Nearly a million veterans, reservists, National Guard members, and their family members were likely exposed to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune between 1953 and 1987. In 1982, the Marine Corps discovered volatile organic compounds in the drinking water at Camp Lejeune. The most contaminated wells were shut down by 1985.
The exact number of people exposed to contaminated water, as well as their level of exposure, is difficult to determine because the contamination dates back over 60 years. The health impact of this contamination is even harder to determine because some exposed veterans may have died decades ago, before the contamination had even been discovered.
Health Effects of Contaminated Water Exposure
The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) has conducted several studies to examine the health effects of drinking contaminated water at Camp Lejeune. Trichloroethylene (TCE), perchloroethylene (PCE), benzene, and other volatile organic compounds were the primary contaminants found in the water supply, and the ATSDP attempted to reconstruct the levels of these contaminants during the period between 1953 and 1987 to determine what possible health effects could occur.
The ATSDP found that there is likely an increased risk of certain cancers (kidney, multiple myelomas, leukemia, and others), adverse birth outcomes and other adverse health effects for all those were exposed to Camp Lejeune contaminated water, including family members of veterans.
In response to these findings, the VA has created a presumption of service connection for eight diseases for Veterans, Reservists, and National Guard members who served at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 days during the covered time period. Veterans who served at Camp Lejeune are also eligible for free healthcare for 15 covered conditions, and family members who lived at Camp Lejeune and have these conditions can receive reimbursement for related out-of-pocket medical expenses.
The full health effects of contaminated water exposure at Camp Lejeune are not yet known, and further research may find additional diseases that are related to contaminated water exposure. Veterans who served at Camp Lejeune and suffer from a health condition other than one listed as a presumptive disease may still file a claim for VA disability compensation. The VA decides these claims on a case-by-case basis, and the Veteran must prove that his or her disability is related to the contaminated water.
If you were exposed to the water contaminants and served at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 days and are filing a claim or are suffering from one or more of the associated health conditions, you can get help in filing or appealing your claim. Our veterans attorneys will help you through every step of the process. Contact us to receive your no-cost consultation with a veterans advocate.