What Led to the Camp Lejeune Water Contamination?

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) were detected at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in two of eight water treatment plants supplying drinking water to the base and surrounding areas. The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) says, “the waste disposal practices at ABC One-Hour Cleaners, an off-base dry cleaning firm” was one source of the contamination. (1)

Exposure to contaminated water occurred between 1953 and 1987. ATSDR estimates that one million military personnel, their families, and civilians living or working on the base may have been exposed. (2)

Using that water, your exposure came through drinking, cooking with, bathing, and washing clothes in the contaminated water. Most victims were repeatedly exposed to VOCs over long periods of time. This can result in negative health effects. (3) No one expects the water they use daily to make them sick with cancer.

What Contaminants Were Found in the Camp Lejeune Water?

VOCs are a group of “compounds that have a high vapor pressure and low water solubility,” according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). These are manmade chemicals “emitted as gases from certain solids or liquids” The EPA goes on to say VOCs contain organic solvents. (4)

Among the VOCs found at Camp Lejeune were: (5)

  • Trichloroethylene (TCE).
  • Tetrachloroethylene or perchloroethylene (PCE).
  • Benzene.
  • Vinyl chloride.
  • 1, 2-dichloroethylene (DCE).

These toxic chemicals were found in concentration levels far exceeding the EPA maximum contaminant standards for drinking water. (6)

All of these toxic chemicals have been linked to adverse health effects, including cancer. (7)

Breast Cancer Overview

“Breast cancer is a disease in which cells in the breast grow out of control. There are different kinds of breast cancer. The kind of breast cancer depends on which cells in the breast turn into cancer,” explains the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (8)

“Most breast cancers begin in the ducts or lobules,” according to the CDC. Lobules are the glands in the breast that produce milk. (9)

There are several types of breast cancer: (10)

  • Invasive ductal carcinoma — Cancer cells begin in the ducts and may spread to other parts of your body.
  • Invasive lobular carcinoma — Cancer cells begin in the lobules and spread to breast tissue.
  • Ductal carcinoma — More common in men than women, “cancer cells are only in the lining of the ducts, and have not spread to other tissues in the breast.” (11)
  • Paget’s disease — A rare type of cancer involving the skin of your nipple. (12)
  • Inflammatory breast cancer — This is “a rare and very aggressive disease in which cancer cells block lymph vessels in the skin of the breast.” (13)

If you or a loved one developed breast cancer after being exposed to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune, contact us today for a free case evaluation.

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Symptoms of Breast Cancer

It is a scary feeling when you know something is wrong, but you are not sure what it is. It may help when you can identify what your symptoms may mean.

Symptoms of breast cancer can vary from person to person and not everyone will experience them. (14)

Here are some of the more common symptoms: (15)

  • Changes in size or shape of breast.
  • Discharge, including blood.
  • Irritation or dimpling of skin.
  • New lump in breast or armpit.
  • Pain in breast area.
  • Pain in nipple area.
  • Redness or flakiness of nipple area.
  • Thickening or swelling of breast.

One scientific study correlates exposure to TCE through drinking water with increased risks of breast cancer in women. Another study, looking at PCE exposure through drinking water, also found increased risks of breast cancer in women. (16) (17)

A third study was specifically focused on male breast cancer. It determined there is an association between exposure to TCE, PCE, DCE, and vinyl chloride with the risk of breast cancer in men through the toxic drinking water at Camp Lejeune. (18)

The ATSDR study found correlations between some cancers and adverse health conditions with exposure to VOCs. Female breast cancer was among the most prevalent diseases reported. (19)

Based on additional research, ATSDR has twice stated that TCE, PCE, DCE, and vinyl chloride possibly accelerate the onset of male breast cancer. (20) (21)

As a Camp Lejeune breast cancer victim, your best legal option is to file a lawsuit.

Victims can now file legal claims against the federal government under a new law, The Camp Lejeune Justice Act. This law allows veterans, their family members, and civilians affected by the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune to obtain compensation for the harm resulting from their exposure. (22)

To be eligible to file a claim you must have been diagnosed with breast cancer (or other health condition) and meet these criteria: (23)

  • Exposure must have occurred at the Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune between August 1, 1953 and December 31, 1987.
  • Exposure must have occurred for a minimum of 30 days overall.

The law also applies to victims who were in utero at the time of their exposure.

Hiring an Experienced Law Firm Is Critical

These cases are highly complex. Critical to your successful outcome is the choice of an experienced attorney. Ideally, your attorney should have a strong and successful background in environmental and personal injury law. Just like the attorneys at Weitz & Luxenberg.

Your Weitz & Luxenberg attorney listens to your story, investigates what happened to you, and files the necessary legal paperwork for your case. Additionally, your attorney would represent you in court or negotiate a settlement on your behalf.

You need attorneys who understand the tremendous impact this toxic chemical exposure had on your life. A team that recognizes everything you are going through, and is there to support you. We want to be with you every step of the way. And to help you get the justice you deserve.

If you or a loved one are suffering from breast cancer due to the Camp Lejeune Water Contamination, contact us today to understand your legal rights.

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How W&L Can Help

W&L has nearly 40 years of experience helping personal injury victims — especially military families and veterans — and litigating environmental cases. We have consistently obtained financial compensation for our clients.

Take a look at some of our record of successful outcomes:

W&L is ready and able to help you get the compensation you deserve in your Camp Lejeune breast cancer lawsuit. Call us now at (833) 977-3437 or fill out our form and submit it. Our team responds to your request as soon as possible.