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Brain Cancer and Camp Lejeune Water Contamination

Many people do not realize they are drinking contaminated water until it’s too late. Unfortunately, this is the case for an estimated one million people who lived at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, between 1953 and 1987.

Improper waste disposal practices, leaking underground storage tanks, and industrial spills contributed to the unsafe levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) found in Camp Lejeune’s drinking water. These toxic chemicals increase the risk of certain diseases, including cancers and birth defects.

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Did you or a loved one develop brain cancer due to the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune? If so, you may be entitled to financial compensation from the federal government.

The personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC can help you determine the best course of legal action. Contact our product liability law offices today at (888) 424-5757 for a free consultation. All confidential or sensitive information you share with our legal team will remain private under an attorney-client relationship.

Water Contamination History of Camp Lejeune

Camp Lejeune is a 156,000-acre military training facility in Jacksonville, North Carolina. It houses barracks, base administrative services, schools, recreational areas, and enlisted-family housing for service members, civilian workers, and family members.

The water contamination at Camp Lejeune started in the 1950s. Records show that the Marine Corps disposed of oil and industrial wastewater in the storm drains, which were standard practices at the time.

A significant source of water contaminants was an off-base dry-cleaning business. It dumped wastewater containing chemicals used in dry cleaning into the drains, including tetrachloroethylene and trichloroethylene.

Military chemists began testing the camp’s water in earnest in October 1980. Tests found trace levels of organic compounds in treated water. However, there was no action to address the issue. In 1982, Grainger Laboratories in Raleigh, North Carolina, was hired to test the water at Camp Lejeune.

Synthetic Organic Solvents Detected

Scientists found “synthetic organic solvents” in the water from two of the base’s largest residential areas, where thousands of service workers and family members lived.

Water from the Tarawa Terrace water treatment plant was mainly contaminated with PCE. In contrast, water from the Hadnot Point plant was primarily contaminated with TCE, along with PCE, benzene, vinyl chloride, and TCE degradation products.

Despite alarming results, the Marine Corps did nothing to fix the water problem. It wasn’t until 1984, when chemists found high levels of gasoline in the water, that the Corps took action. The most contaminated wells were closed down in early 1984 and 1985.

Sadly, it was too late for the thousands of people exposed to toxic water who would develop health problems later in life.

Toxic Substances Found in the Water at Camp Lejeune

According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), the water supply wells at Camp Lejeune contained the following substances:

  • Trichloroethylene (TCE): Used for cleaning metal parts, making refrigerants, and degreasing metal equipment.
  • Perchloroethylene (PCE): Used for dry cleaning and metal degreasing.
  • Vinyl chloride (VC): TCE and PCE degrade into VC in groundwater over time; they are used to make plastic products and produced as a combustion product in tobacco.
  • Benzene: Used to make other chemicals used for manufacturing plastics, nylons, resins, and synthetic fibers.

Health Problems Associated With Contaminated Water at Camp Lejeune

Exposure to the hazardous chemicals and chlorinated solvents in the water at Camp Lejeune increases the risk of certain diseases, including brain cancer.

The following are health effects with sufficient scientific evidence for illness causation from the harmful chemicals found in the water supply at Camp Lejeune:

TCE

  • Kidney cancer
  • Non-Hodgkin lymphoma
  • Cardiac defects

PCE

  • Bladder cancer

Vinyl Chloride

  • Liver cancer

Benzene

  • Leukemias
  • Non-Hodgkin lymphoma

These substances may also increase the risk of other diseases, but insufficient scientific evidence supports a link between the condition and exposure. These diseases and conditions include but are not limited to:

  • Brain cancer
  • Multiple myeloma
  • End-stage renal disease
  • Parkinson’s
  • Scleroderma
  • Breast cancer
  • Brain cancer
  • Cervical cancer
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Prostate cancer
  • Rectal cancer
  • Lung cancer
  • Miscarriage
  • Birth defects

However, not everyone that is exposed to contaminated water develops health problems. The effects of chemical exposure depend on:

  • When you were exposed to contaminated water (e.g., during childhood, pregnancy, etc.)
  • How much exposure was there
  • How long was the exposure
  • How you were exposed (e.g., via drinking, bathing, etc.)
  • Personal traits and habits

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What Is Brain Cancer?

Brain cancer is an overgrowth of cells in the brain that develops into masses called brain tumors. Not all brain tumors are cancerous, but when they are, they can grow rapidly. A cancerous brain tumor is called malignant and can disrupt the body’s natural processes.

Symptoms of Brain Cancer

Brain cancer signs and symptoms usually don’t manifest in the early stages of cancer. Moreover, brain cancer may share similar signs and symptoms with less serious health problems.

Go to your doctor if you experience the following symptoms for more than a week or if they come on suddenly, especially if you have a family history of brain cancer:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Balance and coordination problems
  • Vision problems
  • Speech problems
  • Memory lapses
  • Difficulty walking
  • Abnormal eye movements
  • Personality changes
  • Muscle jerking or twitching
  • Unexplained loss of consciousness
  • Drowsiness
  • Numbness or tingling in the arms or legs
  • Seizures

Brain Cancer Risk Factors

The following factors may increase your risk of developing brain cancer:

  • Advanced age
  • A family history of brain cancer
  • Long-term smoking
  • Working with carcinogens, including vinyl chloride
  • Exposure to pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizer
  • Ionizing radiation
  • Head injury and seizures

Cancers from other organs may also spread to the brain in a process called metastasis. Cancers that commonly spread to the brain include:

  • Lung cancer
  • Kidney cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Bladder cancer
  • Melanoma

Brain Cancer Diagnosis

If you have signs or symptoms of a brain tumor, your doctor will perform testing to create a diagnosis. First, they may try to identify what type of tumor you have and its grade. A tumor's grade determines its expected growth rate (grade 1 grows the slowest, and grade 4 grows the fastest).

Then, your doctor may conduct the following procedures:

  • A neurological examination to determine whether the tumor is affecting your brain
  • Imaging tests to assess the location of the tumor
  • A lumbar procedure to check for cancer cells in the fluid that surrounds your brain and spine
  • A brain biopsy to determine if your tumor is cancerous (malignant)

Brain Tumor Treatments

The prognosis for brain cancer improves with early detection and treatment. Treatments for brain cancer may include:

  • Surgery
  • Chemotherapy
  • Combination therapy
  • Radiation therapy
  • Immunotherapy
  • Medications
  • Rehabilitation

Brain Cancer and Vinyl Chloride Exposure

Developing cancer is one of the many health concerns of people after exposure to Camp Lejeune’s contaminated water. Scientific evidence shows that the hazardous substances found in the water at Camp Lejeune are associated with an increased risk of several cancers, including:

  • Brain cancer
  • Bladder cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Esophageal cancer
  • Kidney cancer
  • Leukemia
  • Lung cancer
  • Multiple myeloma

However, brain cancer is not included in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) list of covered conditions related to Camp Lejeune water exposure. Part of the reason may be insufficient evidence for brain cancer causation by the chemicals found in Camp Lejeune’s water supply.

According to the ATSDR, brain cancer was found in at least one study that evaluated vinyl chloride exposure only.

Nevertheless, many medical organizations link long-term vinyl chloride exposure with an increased risk of brain cancer. Unfortunately, there is no conclusive evidence to solidify this connection.

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Compensation for Victims Affected by Contaminated Water at Camp Lejeune

If you or a loved one developed brain cancer or other health concerns from exposure to the water at Camp Lejeune, you could be entitled to financial compensation.

VA Compensation for Camp Lejeune Victims

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides disability compensation to veterans injured in service or dealing with illnesses due to military service. Usually, a veteran must prove the connection of their service and their current illnesses or disabilities using:

  • A current diagnosis
  • An in-service event that led to the disability
  • A link between an in-service event and the current medical diagnosis

Active-duty personnel, reservists, and national guards affected by toxic water at Camp Lejeune must submit the following requirements when applying for disability benefits:

  • Documentation showing you lived at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 cumulative days from August 1, 1953, to December 31, 1987
  • Medical records of the condition

Veterans’ family members must submit the following in addition to the previous requirements:

  • Documentation showing a legal dependent relationship to a veteran who served at Camp Lejeune
  • Evidence of payment for medical treatment of a covered condition

The reimbursement for medical costs of veterans’ families depends on when they lived at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune:

  • Between January 1, 1957, and December 31, 1987 - reimbursement for care received on or after August 6, 2012, and up to 2 years before the date of application.
  • Between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1956 - reimbursement for care received on or after December 16, 2014, and up to 2 years before the date of application.

Covered Conditions for VA Benefits

The VA may provide benefits to veterans with the following presumptive conditions:

  • Adult leukemia
  • Aplastic anemia and other myelodysplastic syndromes
  • Bladder cancer
  • Kidney cancer
  • Liver cancer
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Parkinson’s disease

Presumptive conditions are illnesses that the VA presumes were caused by military service.

The VA may also reimburse health care costs to veterans’ family members with the following covered health concerns:

  • Bladder cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Esophageal cancer
  • Female infertility
  • Hepatic steatosis
  • Kidney cancer
  • Leukemia
  • Lung cancer
  • Miscarriage
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Myelodysplastic syndromes
  • Neurobehavioral effects
  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Renal toxicity
  • Scleroderma

Filing a Claim for Brain Cancer

Brain cancer is not included in the list of presumptive and covered conditions of the VA. Therefore, it may be difficult for you to prove that the toxic water at Camp Lejeune caused your brain cancer.

However, a skilled personal injury lawyer can help you prove the connection between your brain cancer and exposure if:

  • You had no other environmental or occupational exposure to carcinogens, including vinyl chloride
  • You have no family history of brain cancer
  • Your overall risk of brain cancer is low

Applying for VA disability coverage for brain cancer may result in denial since it is not covered. If this happens, your Camp Lejeune brain cancer lawyer could help you file an appeal. Alternatively, your lawyer may be able to assist you in seeking compensation through other means.

contact-camp-lejeune-brain-cancer-lawyer

Filing a Camp Lejeune Lawsuit

The US Senate passed The Camp Lejeune Justice Act on August 2, 2022, allowing victims of Camp Lejeune contamination to file lawsuits.

The Act was cleared as part of the Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act of 2021, a bill designed to improve health care benefits for veterans exposed to toxic chemicals while in service.

Previously, victims were barred from filing legal claims. The US Navy claimed no legal mechanism for pursuing damages from the military. With the passing of the Camp Lejeune Act, service members, civilian workers, and their families can now file lawsuits against the federal government.

The Act also overrides the statute of limitations in North Carolina that bars the filing of compensation claims after ten years.

If you developed brain cancer and other health concerns from exposure to Camp Lejeune’s toxic water, you could pursue damages by filing a lawsuit. In doing so, you may receive financial compensation for:

  • Medical expenses
  • Pain and suffering
  • Disability
  • Loss of quality of life
  • Wrongful death

The Role of Your Lawyer

Seeking compensation for an uncovered disease may be challenging without an experienced legal representative. Your Camp Lejeune brain cancer lawyer will help you:

  • Establish the link between your chemical exposure to Camp Lejeune and your cancer
  • Gather evidence to support your claim, e.g., medical records and employment history
  • File a lawsuit on your behalf
  • Prove to the court why you deserve financial compensation

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Talk to a Camp Lejeune Brain Cancer Lawyer Today

With the recent passing of the Camp Lejeune Justice Act, it is now easier for victims to seek financial compensation from the federal government.

If you want your claim or lawsuit to be successful, hire a skilled personal injury lawyer to handle your case. At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, our attorneys work tirelessly to ensure victims obtain the justice they deserve and leave no stone unturned when digging for evidence.

Contact our law offices at (888) 424-5757 for a free initial consultation. All cases are unique and must be evaluated separately, so talk to a lawyer who can delve into your case’s specifics.

All confidential or sensitive information you share with our legal team will remain private under an attorney-client relationship. Our lawyers handle all accepted Camp Lejeune cancer cases on a contingency fee basis, meaning you don’t have to pay for our legal services unless we win your case.

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