Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Linked to Cancer, Other Issues

In 1942, the U.S. Marine Corps established Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. It is the home of expeditionary forces in readiness where Marines as well as Sailors train, operate, launch and recover from specialized missions. Forty years after its founding, the Marine Corps discovered specific volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the base’s drinking water. Camp Lejeune water contamination occurred due to chemicals present in some of the base’s water treatment plants.

Tests from routine water treatment plant sampling – and samples of water supply wells – identified the presence of the following chemicals in three of the eight water distribution plants on base:

  • Trichloroethylene (TCE)
  • Tetrachloroethylene (PCE)
  • Vinyl chloride (VC)
  • Benzene

All colorless chemicals, these compounds are unfortunately linked to several cancers and other chronic conditions. TCE is a solvent that mechanics use in order to clean metal parts. PCE is a dry cleaning and metal degreasing compound. TCE and PCE degrade in groundwater over time to become VC. Benzene is used to make other chemicals. In turn, manufacturers use those chemicals to make plastics, resins, and nylon and synthetic fibers. The Camp Lejeune water contamination stemmed from three water-distribution plants that supplied finished water to most family housing units, including the base itself. The three water-distribution plants that tested positive for VOCs were:

  • Hadnot Point
  • Tarawa Terrace
  • Holcomb Boulevard

What Impact Did Chemicals Linked to Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Have on Those Living on the Base?

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, or ATSDR (part of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services), compiled studies on Camp Lejeune. A 2013 CDC study, for example, found that pregnant women who drank the base’s tap water were four times more likely to have babies born with serious birth defects such as spina bifida. These babies were also more likely to develop leukemia in childhood.

As a result of this suffering, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs pays presumptive disability to military veterans or anyone who lived on base prior to 1988 with 30 days of exposure to toxic chemicals in Camp Lejeune’s water. According to the CDC, the effects of exposure to any chemical depend on several factors, including:

  • When during your life the exposure occurs
  • How much of the VOC you are exposed to
  • How long your exposure lasts
  • The method of your exposure to these chemicals (i.e., breathing, drinking)
  • What your personal traits and habits are

As a result of these variable factors, not everyone who was exposed to the contaminated water will or did develop a health problem.

Related: Who Can File a Camp Lejeune Water Exposure Lawsuit?

PACT Act Passes

The PACT Act is a 2022 law that lets people exposed more than 30 years ago file cash claims for compensation now. It “provides eligibility for Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical care, including mental health services and counseling, to veterans who (1) participated in a toxic exposure risk activity; (2) served in specified locations on specified dates; or (3) deployed in support of a specified contingency operation.”

If you or your loved one lived at Camp Lejeune prior to 1988, it’s smart to take action to recover payment before 2024. That’s because the bill “establishes the Cost of War Toxic Exposures Fund in the Treasury to be administered by the VA to invest in the delivery of veterans’ health care and benefits associated with exposures to environmental hazards during military services and medical and other research relating to exposure to environmental hazards.”

It provides appropriations to the Cost of War Toxic Exposures Fund to remain available through fiscal year 2024.

IMPORTANT: If you or a loved one were at Camp Lejeune before 1988, you may qualify for a cash settlement. Anyone exposed to contaminated water there for at least 30 days may qualify. Click here to fill out a survey and connect with legal help. Do it now.

Which Diseases or Health Effects Are People Reporting After Exposure to Camp Lejeune Water Contamination?

The ATSDR identified diseases or health effects where there is sufficient evidence for causation in people exposed to the same chemicals responsible for the Camp Lejeune water contamination. These are:

  • Kidney cancer
  • Non-Hodgkin lymphoma
  • Cardiac defects
  • Bladder cancer
  • Leukemias
  • Liver cancer

The agency also identified health effects without sufficient evidence to conclude that a causal relationship exists. Put another way, there is enough research to support a link between the health effect and the exposure. But there is not enough research to definitively conclude that exposure causes the health effect. However, more research is currently underway. These health effects are:

  • Multiple myeloma
  • End-stage renal disease (i.e., kidney failure)
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Scleroderma

Some other health effects are linked to TCE, PCE, benzene, and/or vinyl chloride exposure in populations other than those at Camp Lejeune. These health effects appeared in individuals who worked with and/or drank water contaminated with these chemicals. These health problems include:

  • Choanal atresia (i.e., nasal passages blocked with either bone or tissue)
  • Eye defects
  • Low birth weight
  • Fetal death
  • Major malformations
  • Miscarriage
  • Neural tube defects
  • Oral cleft defects (including cleft lip)
  • Babies born small for their gestational age
  • Breast cancer
  • Cervical cancer
  • Esophageal cancer
  • Lung cancer
  • Hodgkin’s disease
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Prostate cancer
  • Rectal cancer
  • Impaired immune system function
  • Neurological effects (i.e., delayed reaction times, problems with short-term memory, visual perception, attention, and color vision)
  • Neurobehavioral performance deficits (i.e., delayed recall and deficits in visual perception), decreased blink reflex, and mood effects (i.e., confusion, depression and tension)
  • Severe, generalized hypersensitivity skin disorder (which is an autoimmune-related disease)

You May Qualify for Compensation

If you or a loved one spent 30 days or longer at Camp Lejeune before December 31, 1987, you may qualify for financial compensation.

You have no more than two years to file. Click and then complete the form at the link above to see if you may qualify. Act soon so you can get a cash settlement for your life-threatening contaminated water injuries before it is too late.

Want to speak with someone right now about your claim? Call 24/7 to speak with an expert and see if you may qualify: 1-866-904-5812.

Laura Schaefer

Laura Schaefer is the author ofThe Teashop Girls,The Secret Ingredient, andLittler Women: A Modern Retelling. She is also an active co-author or ghostwriter of several nonfiction books on personal and business development. Laura currently lives in Windermere, Florida with her husband and daughter and works with clients all over the world. Visit her online at and