Effects from Chemical Exposure at Camp Lejeune

People who used Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune’s contaminated water from 1953 through 1987 suffered from of illnesses that were eventually traced to the water. They were affected from chemical exposure at Camp Lejeune. The presence of three primary VOCs, or volatile organic compounds, trichloroethylene (TCE), perchloroethylene (PCE), benzene, and vinyl chloride, plus several others. These chemicals were regularly ingested by military personnel, their families, and civilian workers at rates thousands of times higher than the EPA’s levels considered safe.

patient exposed to camp le jeune contamination talking with nurse

Ingestion through drinking, bathing, and other uses allowed the chemicals to build up in their systems. Many VOCs have a longer half-life, taking much longer to be metabolized out of the body. Health effects associated with exposure to these chemicals can vary widely and depend on factors such as the duration and intensity of exposure, as well as individual susceptibility.

People who spent time at Camp Lejeune during the affected period reported a wide range of illnesses that were seemingly unrelated at the time. Many years later, after the government admitted the contamination, did anyone make the connection? Observations made over time indicate a series of specific effects that can be traced directly back to the contamination. These are called presumptive conditions since they are known to be directly related.


Multiple types of cancers have been traced to the Camp Lejeune contamination, including:

• Kidney
• Liver
• Bladder
• Breast
• Leukemia
• Lung
• Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma

There are only a few that have enough evidence to prove causality. Other cancers, such as brain, lung, gallbladder, or prostate cancer, may also be caused by water, but not enough research yet exists. This doesn’t mean someone can’t file a claim for their illness, however.

Neurobiological Effects

These are conditions that directly impact how the brain communicates with the central nervous system. This can manifest in a wide range of issues that may not have been previously attributed to the chemical exposure at Camp Lejeune, whether physical, emotional, or behavioral. The symptoms depend on how much exposure the brain has had that led to damage.

Individuals who experience neurobehavioral effects often describe alterations in mood, personality, attention, and memory. Additionally, neurological symptoms may manifest as motor dysfunction, which can include difficulties with coordination or balance.

Neurological illnesses can include:

• Parkinson’s Disease
• ALS, aka, “Lou Gehrig’s Disease”
• Depression or anxiety
• Confusion
• Dizziness
• Headaches
• Fatigue
• Tremors
• Learning problems
• Trouble concentrating
• Mood or personality changes
• Involuntary muscle movements
• Motor problems, i.e., balance, coordination

Short-term exposure may be reversible. But long-term exposure can cause permanent and severe damage that impacts a person’s ability to work and function independently.

Reproductive Disorders

Infertility of both men and women, miscarriages, and birth defects were also prevalent at Camp Lejeune. Some women suffered more than one miscarriage or stillbirth. Many children of women who had a successful pregnancies had birth defects because of the in-utero impact of the chemicals in the water.

The water contamination also led to these reproductive effects:

• Menstrual disorders
• Delayed menarche (beginning of menstruation)
• Changes in sex hormone levels
• Diminished libido and potency
• Premature menopause
• Impaired semen quality
• Reduced fertility in both males and females

Exposure to trichloroethylene also increased a baby’s risk of immune disorders and cardiac defects.

Liver And Kidney Issues

Cancer isn’t the only water-related condition affecting the kidneys. Chronic kidney dysfunction as well as other damage and dysfunctions resulted from long-term exposures to the VOCs. Fatty liver disease, also called Hepatic steatosis, has been shown to be from exposure.

These are some of the known effects of the contamination. If you or someone you know spent time at Camp Lejeune and became ill later, it’s very possible that their illnesses were caused by chemical exposure, even if their illness isn’t a presumptive condition.

Camp Lejeune Claim? Contact The Herren Law Firm Today

Until recently, only veterans could request help through the VA for their medical conditions. After the signing of the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022, family members and civilian workers can now file a claim for compensation due to the harm they suffered from the contaminated water.

If you or someone you know became ill after working or being stationed at Camp Lejeune, contact us immediately for help filing your claim. We’ve helped over 4,000 people, and we can help you as well. Contact us today by calling (713) 682-8194 or using our online contact form our consultation is free, and you won’t owe us a fee until we win your case.

Camp Lejeune Cancer

The most prominent illness that resulted from the water contamination at Camp Lejeune is cancer. Contaminant carcinogens in the water system caused a myriad of different cancers from 1953 through 1987 before they were discovered in the base’s water supply.

camp lejeune water contamination

These conditions have been positively identified as cancers that resulted from the contamination. Multiple studies have concluded that drinking water contaminants were responsible for cancers and other diseases found in the base population during that period. Conditions on the definitive list all have sufficient evidence that positively proves their connection, making them “presumptive.”

The Known Conditions

The primary chemicals found in the drinking water included the carcinogens trichloroethylene (TCE), perchloroethylene (PCE) also known as tetrachloroethene, vinyl chloride, and benzene. Whether a person becomes ill with cancer depends on multiple factors, such as length of exposure and frequency.

Of the 15 identified health conditions, these are all the cancers:

1. Esophageal cancer

2. Breast cancer (in both men and women)

3. Kidney cancer

4. Multiple myeloma

5. Renal toxicity

6. Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma

7. Lung cancer

8. Bladder cancer

9. Leukemia

10. Cervical cancer

11. Myelodysplastic syndromes

The VA recognizes these as “presumptive,” meaning that a veteran is presumed to have developed the condition based on his or her service record. Some are eligible for VA disability benefits while others are only eligible for out-of-pocket medical expense reimbursement.

Other Related Cancers

Rectal cancer and soft tissue cancer are also known to be related to the water contamination at Camp Lejeune, along with cancers such as:

• Brain

• Cervical

• Ovarian

• Pancreatic

• Prostate

• Liver

• Bile duct

• Intestinal or colorectal

• Gallbladder

• Sinus

• Thyroid

• Spinal

• Other tumors, cysts, and polyps

These are connected to the contamination but are not yet considered presumptive.

Conditions Not On The List

The list above contains the cancers and other medical conditions that have been positively identified as containing a presumptive condition linked to water contamination. But if you were exposed and have been diagnosed with something different, that doesn’t mean it was unrelated to the chemicals in the water. Other cancers and conditions are “as least likely as not” to have a connection to water contamination.

There are other medical conditions that have not yet been identified as presumptive conditions by the Veterans Administration, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Public Health Service, or the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR.) Cancers and conditions not listed will require medical records and proof of residency or work history at Camp Lejeune.
So many people became ill after living and working there during that time that many illnesses have not yet been connected to water contamination. Others could be identified later, so it’s a good idea to file a claim. You may still qualify for compensation, but you won’t know unless you file.

If you were at Camp Lejeune between 1953 and 1987, speak with a Camp Lejeune water contamination attorney to assess your rights. You will only have until August 2024 to file your claim or lose your right to compensation.

Contact The Herren Law Firm Today For Help With Your Claim

For more than 20 years, the Herren law firm has helped veterans and other disabled people with their benefits claims and appeals. We have extensive experience dealing with governmental agencies and the claims that are filed with them.

If you or someone you know became ill after being stationed at Camp Lejeune, get in touch with us immediately.

We’ve helped over 4,000 people, and we can help you as well. Contact us today by calling (713) 682-8194 or using our online contact form our consultation is free, and you won’t owe us a fee until we win your case.

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