Camp Lejeune—located in Jacksonville, North Carolina—is a military training facility that has also been a home and workplace to millions of military families and civilian employees.
In 1982, the U.S. Marine Corps discovered dangerous chemicals known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the drinking water at Camp Lejeune. The contamination began in 1953 and continued to expose base workers, service members, and their families to these VOCs until 1987.
The toxic VOCs found in the drinking water included:
●Benzene: Used to make other chemicals that are components of plastics, resins, nylon, and synthetic fibers.
●Tetrachloroethylene (also known as perchloroethylene or PCE): Used for dry cleaning and metal degreasing.
●Trichloroethylene (TCE): A solvent used to clean metal parts.
●Vinyl chloride (VC): Over time, TCE and PCE in groundwater degrade to become VC.
Benzene, TCE, and VC are all classified as cancer-causing chemicals, while PCE is classified as probably carcinogenic. Exposure to these chemicals can also increase the risk of birth defects and other health problems.
The concentration level of these carcinogenic chemicals at Camp Lejeune was over 2,000 times higher than the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency safety limits.
1. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2017) Camp Lejeune Health and Disability Benefits. Retrieved from https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2017-01-13/pdf/2017-00499.pdf
2. Authenticated U.S. Government Information GPO. (2017, Jan 13). Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 9. https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2017-01-13/pdf/2017-00499.pdf
3. Contaminated Water Supplies at Camp Lejeune: Assessing Potential Health Effects
National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. (2009). https://nap.nationalacademies.org/read/12618/chapter/1
4. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2017) https://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/camp-lejeune/
5. The National Academies (2009) https://nap.nationalacademies.org/resource/12618/camp_lejeune_final.pdf