Camp Lejeune FAQ: What Was in the Water at Camp Lejeune?

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Toxic Substances Found in the Water at Camp Lejeune

One of the most significant legal controversies currently happening is the Camp Lejeune water contamination case.

This massive legal case can be traced back to 1953-1987, when a U.S. Marine Corps Base in Jacksonville, North Carolina, was exposed to a highly toxic water source.

As shared by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), countless civilians and veterans were exposed to contaminated water and later developed cancer and other serious health issues.

What was in the water at Camp Lejeune?

On this page, we’ll discuss the toxic substances found in the water at Camp Lejeune, how the water became contaminated, symptoms and health effects linked to the contaminated water, and what legal action you can take if you’ve been effected.

Camp Lejeune FAQ: What Was in the Water at Camp Lejeune?

In August 2022, the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 was signed into law, allowing victims of water contamination at Camp Lejeune to recover damages for developing adverse health effects.

If you or a loved one lived or worked at Camp Lejeune for 30 days or more between 1953 and 1987, you may be eligible to file a Camp Lejeune Lawsuit.

Contact TorHoerman Law for a free consultation. You can also use the chatbot on this page to find out if you qualify for the Camp Lejeune lawsuit instantly.

Our Camp Lejeune lawyers are here to help you and walk you through your legal options. Contact us for more information.

Frequently Asked Questions

Water contamination at Camp Lejeune was caused by spills or leaks from underground storage tanks, waste disposal sites, businesses, and more.

Because of this, Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) were found in the water serving the base housing and a variety of other buildings.

These VOCs included:

  • Dry cleaning solvents
  • Degreasers
  • And almost seventy (70) other hazardous chemicals

The Camp Lejeune Justice Act, which has been signed into law by President Biden as part of the PACT Act, will allow victims who meet the qualifying criteria to pursue a claim and/or legal action.

The Camp Lejeuene Justice Act allows victims to file an administrative claim with the Navy JAG/Tort Claims Unit.

If not adjudicated and settled within six (6) months, claimants are able to file a lawsuit in the US District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina.

You can see if you qualify for the Camp Lejeune Lawsuit in 1 minute by using our chat bot below!

The base is located in southeastern North Carolina in Onslow County – along the Atlantic Coast.

Camp Lejeune can be found in the city of Jacksonville, North Carolina.

Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Lawsuit
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Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Lawsuit

Camp Lejeune FAQ: What Caused the Toxic Water at Camp Lejeune?
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Camp Lejeune FAQ: What Caused the Toxic Water at Camp Lejeune?

16 Diseases & Symptoms Of Camp Lejeune Water Contamination
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16 Diseases & Symptoms Of Camp Lejeune Water Contamination

Table of Contents

How Did Camp Lejeune Get Contaminated?

How Did Camp Lejeune Get Contaminated?

According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), one of the primary causes of the contaminated drinking water was an off-base and privately owned dry-cleaning store, the ABC One-Hour Cleaners.

Two of the eight water treatment plants in Camp Lejeune, Tarawa Terrace and Hadnot Point, were contaminated by the dry cleaner’s waste disposal.

The U.S. Marine Corps would cycle between different underground storage tanks.

Every time they used the wells from the contaminated plants, they mixed them with clean water from other wells.

In doing so, the volatile organic compounds entered the drinking water supply through multiple water treatment plant locations.

After countless health complaints regarding the water supply, the government launched an investigation to uncover the truth.

The Environmental Protection Agency later discovered the presence of tetrachloroethylene (perchloroethylene) in Tarawa Terrace.

The ATSDR also revealed the presence of trichloroethylene at the Hadnot Point treatment plant.

What Were the Toxic Substances Found in The Drinking Water?

The ATSDR found numerous toxic volatile organic compounds in the water supply of Camp Lejeune.

What Was in the Water at Camp Lejeune?

The five (5) most common pollutants found in the water supply at Camp Lejeune were:

Trichloroethylene (TCE)

Trichloroethylene (TCE) is a liquid volatile organic compound (VOC) used as a degreaser solvent.

This compound doesn’t occur naturally and is usually a product of chemical synthesis.

This chemical is often found in cleaning solutions, paint strippers, spray adhesives, and spot removers.

Since this chemical doesn’t occur naturally, it has no natural way to break down or decompose.

In other words, this toxin can last in the environment for years and cause significant health risks to those exposed.

Contaminated drinking water and aerosol inhalation are the most common ways people are exposed to TCE.

Exposure to TCE could lead to kidney cancer, liver cancer, and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Tetrachloroethylene (PCE)

Tetrachloroethylene or perchloroethylene (PCE) is another synthetic VOC often used as a dry-cleaning agent, spot remover, and degreaser solvent.

This is a clear and non-flammable liquid chemical at room temperature with a fast evaporation rate.

When evaporated, most people can smell a sweet, sharp odor even if there’s a minute amount (1 ppm) of PCE in the air.

PCE exposures often occur in laundromat workers regularly exposed to PCE vapor.

Another route of exposure is through drinking contaminated water or consumer products.

Prolonged exposure to PCE could cause significant kidney and liver damage.

This chemical is not yet identified as a carcinogenic agent; the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services considers it a probable human carcinogen.

Dichloroethylene (DCE)

Dichloroethylene (DCE) is a highly flammable and colorless liquid used mainly as a degreaser and solvent.

This chemical evaporates quickly with a sharp, ether-like odor.

A specific form of DCE is available commercially for electronic cleaning and specialty foams.

The most common way people are exposed to DCE is through drinking contaminated water or breathing in air containing DCE vapors.

Prolonged exposure to high doses of this chemical can damage the central nervous system, causing encephalopathy.

This solvent also damages the eyes and the respiratory system.

Vinyl Chloride (VC)

Vinyl Chloride (VC) is a synthetic chemical commonly found in industrial products like PVC pipes, wire coatings, and plastic packaging.

This is a colorless gas produced from the degradation of chlorine-based compounds in water.

Because it can burn quickly, it’s also often used in tobacco smoke.

Facility workers are the primary population often exposed to this volatile compound.

Smokers and second-hand smokers are also at risk of exposure due to the presence of VC in tobacco smoke.

Long-term exposure to this potentially carcinogenic agent increases the risk of brain, liver, and lung cancer.

This chemical is also associated with a rare form of liver cancer, hepatic angiosarcoma.


Unlike most chemicals in this list, benzene is the only one found naturally and can be produced synthetically.

In nature, benzene is found in volcanoes, forest fires, and crude oil.

This colorless liquid is a hydrocarbon often used as an intermediate in the manufacturing process of many plastics and rubber products.

The most common source of exposure to benzene is through inhalation or skin contact with contaminated water or soil.

Indoor exposure often occurs by inhaling furniture wax, detergents, and glues.

Long-term exposure to this VOC could lead to bone marrow damage, excessive bleeding disorder, and anemia.

What Are the Symptoms of Exposure to Contaminated Water at Camp Lejeune?

The signs and symptoms of contaminated water consumption in Camp Lejeune manifest differently depending on the disease a victim develops.

For example, liver cancer patients may experience jaundice, abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting.

Those who develop leukemia may have excessive fatigue and bruising.

Additionally, those exposed to TCE may experience headaches, confusion, dizziness, vision changes, and difficulty breathing.

What Are the Symptoms of Exposure to Contaminated Water at Camp Lejeune?

However, here are some tell-tale signs of prolonged exposure to multiple volatile organic compounds:

  • Skin irritation
  • Eye redness, soreness, and sensitivity
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headaches and blurry vision
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Memory issues or cognitive impairment.

If you lived in Camp Lejeune from the 1950s to the 80s and are now suffering from unexplained life-threatening conditions, there’s a chance that you ingested contaminated water.

It’s advisable to check with your doctor and get tested if you’re experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above.

What Are the Health Effects of Ingesting Contaminated Water at Camp Lejeune?

The National Research Council (NRC) studied the long-term health effects of contaminated water supplies in Camp Lejeune in 2009.

The study concluded that the diseases veterans are suffering are not linked to the water contamination of Camp Lejeune.

The paper was criticized for not covering other harmful compounds in the water.

The Director of the government agency demonstrated the limitations of the study by the NRC.

What Are the Health Effects of Ingesting Contaminated Water at Camp Lejeune?

We outline below some of the most commonly reported health problems among veterans of Camp Lejeune:

The main health issues and symptoms linked to Camp Lejeune water contamination include:

Other associated conditions include:

Various Types of Cancer

Volatile organic compounds have been linked to the development of various cancers, such as leukemia, breast cancer, liver cancer, and bladder cancer.

Cancer is a life-threatening illness characterized by uncontrolled cell growth and can spread to other parts of the body if left untreated.

Complete recovery is possible depending on the cancer type and severity of the condition.

Cancer treatments often include radiation therapy, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and surgery.

According to the National Institutes of Health, newer cancer treatments yield up to 50% clinical success.

Aplastic Anemia

Aplastic anemia is a disease of the bone marrow characterized by low production of functional red blood cells and platelets, which can often leave patients lethargic and immunocompromised.

Exposure to chemicals, especially those containing benzene, could lead to aplastic anemia.

The only way to lessen a person’s risk of developing aplastic anemia is by preventing exposure to benzene-containing chemicals.

Depending on the damage to a patient’s bone marrow, a blood transfusion might be enough to improve the condition.

However, more severe cases require bone marrow transplantation.

Multiple Myeloma

Multiple myeloma is a type of leukemia that affects the plasma cell.

Plasma cells help your body fend off infection by recognizing antigens (foreign bodies) and producing specific antibodies.

In multiple myeloma, plasma cells collect in the bone marrow and don’t produce antibodies to fight infections.

The exact cause of multiple myeloma is still a mystery, but as a cancer-type disease, carcinogenic compounds might be a factor.

Treatment for multiple myeloma could include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, stem cell transplantation, and immunotherapy.

Adult Leukemia

Leukemia is a type of cancer that affects white blood cells and the organs responsible for producing these cells (i.e., the bone marrow and the lymphatic system.)

Those who develop leukemia may have excessive fatigue and bruising.

Additionally, those exposed to TCE may experience headaches, confusion, dizziness, vision changes, and difficulty breathing.

An acquired gene mutation usually causes this disease but it can also be caused by benzene exposure and cigarette smoking.

Similar to most cancer types, the treatment options for leukemia are radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and bone marrow transplantation.

Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma

Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is a type of cancer that specifically affects the lymphatic system.

Enlarged lymph nodes, fever, night sweats, and extreme fatigue commonly characterize this cancer.

Depending on the affected organ, a non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma can be a B-cell or follicular lymphoma.

Similar to multiple myeloma, the exact cause of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma remains a mystery, but several factors, like genetics and environmental toxins, might aggravate the condition.

Treatment for this cancer type is usually chemotherapy and radiation therapy, although some cases might require immune-targeting drugs or bone marrow transplantation.

Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease is a neurological condition that affects the brain’s movement centers and might lead to tremors, balance issues, muscle rigidity, and slowed movements.

Early stages of Parkinson’s disease might manifest as difficulty in showing facial expressions and speech impairments.

Parkinson’s disease is primarily genetic, but exposure to toxins affecting the central nervous system (e.g., trichloroethylene) could trigger this condition.

Treatments for this disease include carbo-levodopa medications and physical therapy, such as speech and occupational therapy, to restore normal facial movement.

Can Camp Lejeune Victims Take Legal Action?

Since the Camp Lejeune Justice Act was enacted in August 2022, those affected by the Camp Lejeune water contamination can take legal action and obtain financial compensation for their health issues.

The act allows veterans and affected civilians to file claims against the federal government if they have developed any illnesses related to contaminated water.

Can Camp Lejeune Victims Take Legal Action?

In most cases, the federal government has immunity against cases filed by a military service member for incidents occurring during active duty.

However, the Camp Lejeune Justice Act removed this barrier and granted veterans access to compensation for illnesses related to water contamination in Camp Lejeune.

How Can You File a Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Claim?

Suppose you were a service officer from stationed in Camp Lejeune at the Marine Corps Air Station or the Marine Corps Base during your active service years between the 1950s and 1980s.

In this case, you might be eligible to file a Camp Lejeune water contamination claim.

Here’s what you need to do to file a claim:

  1. Prove you were at Camp Lejeune: You’ll need to provide evidence that you were stationed there during the incident. This can be established through military records and orders.
  2. Get medical assessment and documentation: You’ll also need to provide medical documents that confirm your diagnosis of an illness related to water contamination in Camp Lejeune.
  3. Find a reliable and experienced lawyer: An experienced attorney can help you navigate the claims process and build a strong case for maximum compensation.
  4. File a claim with the VA: Once you have collected the necessary documents, you can file your claim to Veterans Affairs (VA) electronically or by going to a VA regional office near you.
  5. If it fails, file a lawsuit: If your claim is denied, you can file an appeal or a lawsuit against the government.

Contact TorHoerman Law for a Free Consultation

Camp Lejeune water contamination took the lives of countless individuals and put many veterans at risk of developing long-term illnesses.

For many years, these victims couldn’t find justice.

With the new legislation, however, victims finally have a way to seek compensation and hold the government accountable for its negligence.

Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Lawyers

If you or a loved one were exposed to toxic substances in the water at Camp Lejeune between 1953 and 1987, you may be eligible to file a Camp Lejeune Justice Act claim and get compensated for what you’ve been through.

Contact us for a free consultation.

You can also use the chatbot on this page to find out if you qualify for the lawsuit instantly.

Tor Hoerman

Tor Hoerman

Owner & Attorney - TorHoerman Law


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