Marine Uniform

History of PFAS Forever Chemical Contamination at Camp Lejeune

Sadly, many current and former Marines, their families, and contract workers who lived or work at U.S. Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune are discovering the connection between the cancers that devastated their lives and the forever chemicals that contaminated the water at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.

History of Contamination at Camp Lejeune

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) determined that people living and working at Camp Lejeune between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987, were exposed to drinking water that was contaminated with PFAS “forever chemicals” that are linked to several types of cancer. The Department of Veterans Affairs issued a final rule that became effective in March 2017 and solidified the connection between the contaminated water and the cancers. The rule explained that veterans, former reservists, and former National Guard members who served at Camp Lejeune during the contamination period for no less than 30 days (consecutive or nonconsecutive) and were diagnosed with any of the 8 associated diseases are entitled to VA benefits because the diseases were presumably caused by the contaminated water.

The 8 associated diseases include:

  • Adult leukemia

  • Aplastic anemia and other myelodysplastic syndromes

  • Bladder cancer

  • Kidney cancer

  • Liver cancer

  • Multiple myeloma

  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma

  • Parkinson’s disease

What Contaminated the Water at Camp Lejeune?

The chemicals that contaminated the water at Camp Lejeune are known as polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) which are commonly referred to as “forever chemicals.” They are known as forever chemicals because they do not naturally break down in the human body or in nature and actually accumulate in the human body.

Forever chemicals are commonly found in firefighting foam (an aqueous film-forming foam known as AFFF) which is used to combat petroleum and fuel-based fires. The chemicals were originally used in the 1940s in manufacturing because they are resistant to heat, grease, stains, and water. However, exposure to these chemicals is dangerous and has been linked to liver damage, thyroid disease, decreased fertility, high cholesterol, obesity, hormone suppression, and cancers.

ATSDR testing revealed that Camp Lejeune’s drinking water was contaminated with multiple forever chemicals, including trichloroethylene (TCE), tetrachloroethylene (PCE), vinyl chloride (VC), and benzene.

Forever Chemicals Testing Details

PCE was the main contaminant at the Tarawa Terrace Treatment Plant at the camp. The maximum level detected in the drinking water there was 215 parts per billion (ppt) in February 1985 which exceeded the EPA’s maximum contaminant level of 5 ppt. The levels consistently exceeded the EPA’s maximum from November 1957 through February 1987. Over time, PCE degrades in groundwater and turns to TCE, DCE (dichloroethane), and VC. Benzene was also detected in the Tarawa Terrace drinking water system samples in 1985.

Chemicals found at the Hadnot Point Treatment Plant on base included TCE, DCE, PCE, benzene, and VC. TCE was the main contaminant at this location and the maximum contamination level was 1400 ppt in May 1982 which exceeded the current EPA maximum of 5 ppt.

The testing also included two mortality studies and a Cancer Incidence Study regarding the water contamination at Camp Lejeune. The mortality studies examined the death and medical records of nearly 200,000 former employees and Marine personnel who lived or worked at Camp Lejeune during the contamination period. The mortality studies determined that individuals who lived at Camp Lejeune during the contamination period had a higher mortality rate for kidney cancer, bladder cancer, prostate cancer, and leukemia.

How GoldenbergLaw Can Help You

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with cancer after living or working at Camp Lejeune between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987, contact the Forever Chemical Contamination Attorneys at GoldenbergLaw. Our team has more than 35 years of experience providing the Gold standard of advocacy to our clients. You need a legal team that has the expertise needed to qualify you for the maximum compensation you deserve in the Camp Lejeune claims process. Contact us today for a free consultation.
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