Has Contaminated Water from Camp Lejeune Caused Scleroderma?
Researchers discovered that water systems supplying Marine Corps Base Camp were contaminated with toxic chemicals. Some of them are known to cause cancer and other illnesses. These dangerous chemicals include trichloroethylene (TCE), tetrachloroethylene (PCE), benzene, and vinyl chloride. (1)
TCE is a “colorless, volatile liquid” that is used as an industrial solvent. (2) Studies have strongly indicated a causal link to scleroderma through exposure to TCE. (3)
Research has also associated vinyl chloride with scleroderma-like skin changes. (4) Vinyl chloride is “a volatile compound used almost exclusively by the plastics industry to produce polyvinyl chloride (PVC)” according to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). (5)
At Camp Lejeune, exposure to these chemicals came primarily through drinking, cooking with, or bathing in contaminated water supplied to the base. It was supplied by two water systems — Hadnot Point and Tarawa Terrace — and was present in two more. (6) In many cases, this exposure was repeated over long periods of time.
What Is Scleroderma?
“Scleroderma is an autoimmune connective tissue and rheumatic disease that causes inflammation in the skin and other areas of the body,” according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS). (7) NIAM goes on to explain, with scleroderma, “Too much collagen in your skin and other tissues causes patches of tight, hard skin.” (8)
There are two main types of scleroderma:
- Localized scleroderma — This affects your “skin and underlying tissues” in patterns. These patterns are either morphea (patches) or liner (lines). Patches of scleroderma can be one half inch or larger. Lines of scleroderma often run along your arms and legs, but may also occur on your forehead and face. (9)
- Systemic scleroderma — This type affects not only your skin and underlying tissues, but also your blood vessels and major organs. It usually entails more organ damage. Systemic scleroderma may be “limited” and come on gradually, affecting your fingers, hands, face, lower arms, and legs below the knees. Or it may be “diffuse” with rapid onset, extending to your thighs and body trunk. (10)
Research on Toxic Chemicals and Scleroderma
Scleroderma “is more common in women and most often develops around age 30 to 50. Systemic scleroderma can affect almost any organ in the body, and there is a large variability of symptoms among affected individuals,” according to the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD). (11)
Scientific evidence indicates exposure to toxins can lead to scleroderma. An assessment found evidence of autoimmune-related effects of trichloroethylene exposure. It focused on the synthesis of data among multiple studies. The researchers concluded, “The consistency among the studies and the concordance between the studies in mice and humans support an etiologic role of TCE in autoimmune disease.” (12)
Yet another study agreed, stating their results “provide evidence that occupational solvent exposure may be associated with an increased risk of SSc.” (13)
Finally, a Review of Veterans Administration Clinical Guidance for Health Conditions Related to Camp Lejeune Legislation acknowledged, “a variety of occupational and environmental exposures have been associated with its [scleroderma] development, including exposure to silica, vinyl chloride… Scleroderma has also been reported with exposure to organic solvents and epoxy resins.” (14) (15)
If you or a loved one have developed scleroderma and have been exposed to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune, contact us today to understand your legal rights.
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What To Do if You Developed Scleroderma Following Exposure to Contaminated Water at Camp Lejeune
Your first step should be to seek medical attention in order to obtain an accurate diagnosis. A written medical diagnosis is vital in supporting your legal claims.
Next, you want to contact an attorney to seek justice and compensation. Your attorney evaluates your claim to see if you may qualify to file a successful lawsuit.
Who Can File a Camp Lejeune Scleroderma Lawsuit?
A new law, the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022, makes it possible for victims of the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune to file lawsuits against the U.S. federal government. These claims seek monetary compensation for serious health issues related to exposure to the toxic chemicals in the water.
To be eligible, you must meet the criteria: (16) (17)
- You lived, worked, or were otherwise present on Camp Lejeune between August 1, 1953 and December 31, 1987.
- Your exposure occurred for at least 30 days, not necessarily in a row.
- You were diagnosed by a doctor with one of the recognized illnesses.
You may also qualify to make a claim if you suffer adverse health effects because your mother lived or worked at Camp Lejeune while she was pregnant with you.
Once your attorney determines your eligibility to file a lawsuit, your attorney helps you explore your legal options.
If you have developed scleroderma as a result of exposure to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune, contact us today for a free case review.
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Legal Options for Victims of Camp Lejeune Water Contamination
The key to your lawsuit often depends on your choice of an attorney, making this decision extremely important. You want to be sure your attorney is up to the task.
Here are some things to look for:
- Has your attorney worked with a wide range of clients, including veterans?
- How much experience does your attorney have in complex environmental personal injury cases?
- Does your attorney have a winning track record in those cases?
W&L has been representing a wide range of clients — including veterans and their families — for almost 40 years. We are a nationally recognized leader in environmental personal injury litigation.
Our attorneys are compassionate and knowledgeable. They work tenaciously on behalf of our clients to obtain justice and the best possible outcomes to their cases.
We have a long track record of winning cases. We see our clients through their legal fight, from start to finish. And, we feel honored to represent those who have suffered so much — through carelessness, negligence, or indifference.
We have held government agencies and large corporations responsible for the harm they have done to ordinary people who could not defend themselves.
How W&L Can Help
Our attorneys have many successful large water contamination case results. We have fought many legal battles on behalf of people who were made sick from toxic chemicals in their water.
Here is a sampling of our successes on behalf of clients:
- W&L helped secure a $65 million settlement for residents of Hoosick Falls, New York due to PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) litigation over water contamination.
- W&L negotiated a $23.5 million settlement for Petersburgh, New York residents in their PFOA water contamination lawsuit.
- W&L achieved a landmark settlement of $423 million in an MTBE (methyl tertiary butyl ether) drinking water contamination case affecting public water providers across 17 states.