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Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Health Issues

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From 1953 to 1987, some water sources at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina were contaminated with hazardous chemicals. Veterans, family members, workers and other residents at the base may have been exposed. As a result, some individuals may have developed related health conditions, such as cancer. Information on these injuries and how to receive compensation can be found below.

01. Contaminated Water and Injuries

Camp Lejeune Water Linked to Cancer and Other Injuries

Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune is located near Jacksonville, North Carolina. For over three decades, contamination of Camp Lejeune’s drinking water exposed veterans, residents and workers to harmful chemicals. The contamination was present in water processed through some of the base’s water treatment plants that base residents drank and used for cooking and bathing. Buildings and areas served by contaminated wells from these plants were affected by the harmful water.

Contaminated water at Camp Lejeune was found to contain the following volatile organic compounds (VOCs):

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

This contaminated water has been linked to an increased risk of several types of cancer, including bladder cancer, kidney cancer, multiple myeloma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. People who developed these conditions because of Camp Lejeune water may be entitled to compensation.

Who Is Eligible for Financial Compensation?

Some Camp Lejeune Marine Corps veterans, family members and workers may be entitled to compensation for their injuries. To be eligible, individuals must have been present on base at Camp Lejeune for 30 or more days between August 1953 and December 1987 and developed a cancer or injury linked to the base’s water contamination.

02. List of Camp Lejeune Injuries

List of Cancers and Illnesses From Contaminated Camp Lejeune Water

The water contamination at Camp Lejeune exposed people to harmful chemicals for more than 30 years. The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) estimates as many as one million military members, civilian staff and their families might have been exposed to the contaminated water.

These diseases fall into several categories, including blood disorders, cancers, reproductive issues and other diseases and disorders. All of these issues should be taken seriously. If you or a loved one believe you were exposed to Camp Lejeune’s contaminated water, you may want to see a doctor.

Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Health Issues

Blood Disorders

  • Aplastic anemia
  • Myelodysplastic syndromes

Kidney Diseases

  • End-stage renal disease
  • Renal toxicity (nephrotoxicity)

Neurologic Disorders

  • Neurobehavioral effects
  • Parkinson’s disease

Reproductive Issues

  • Birth defects (including, but not limited to, choanal atresia, eye defects, low birth weight, neural tube defects and oral cleft defects)
  • Female infertility
  • Fetal death
  • Major fetal malformations
  • Miscarriage

Other Conditions

  • Cardiac defects
  • Hepatic steatosis
  • Scleroderma


  • Appendix cancer
  • Bile duct cancer
  • Bladder cancer
  • Brain cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Cervical cancer
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Esophageal cancer
  • Gallbladder cancer
  • Hodgkin lymphoma (Hodgkin disease)
  • Intestinal cancer
  • Kidney cancer
  • Leukemia
  • Liver cancer
  • Lung cancer
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Non-Hodgkin lymphoma
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Prostate cancer
  • Soft tissue cancer
  • Spinal cancer
  • Thyroid cancer
  • Any other unlisted cancer

Nearly 40 illnesses are currently tied to Camp Lejeune’s contaminated water. Their symptoms vary, but some symptoms, like fatigue and fever, are common to several of these conditions.

People exposed to the base’s contaminated water may want to watch for these common symptoms. If these symptoms occur, affected individuals should consult with their healthcare provider.

Most Common Symptoms of Diseases Associated With Contaminated Camp Lejeune Water

The following symptoms occur commonly across several conditions tied to Camp Lejeune’s contaminated water:

  • Belly pain
  • Blood in the urine
  • Bone pain
  • Bruising or bleeding easily
  • Chills
  • Constipation
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Frequent or severe infections
  • Frequent urination
  • Loss of appetite
  • Low blood counts (low red blood cells, white blood cells or platelets)
  • Swollen belly
  • Weakness
  • Weight loss

03. Blood Disorders

Blood Disorders Associated With Camp Lejeune Water Contamination

Blood disorders, such as aplastic anemia and myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS), have been connected to Camp Lejeune’s contaminated water. Both of these serious conditions affect bone marrow and blood. They often have similar symptoms.

Aplastic anemia is also known as bone marrow failure. It occurs when bone marrow tissue cannot make enough blood cells. Chemicals in contaminated Camp Lejeune water may damage this important tissue and cause aplastic anemia.

MDS occurs when the body cannot produce one or more blood cells correctly. Bone marrow may produce enough cells, but flaws prevent the cells from doing their jobs. Contaminants in Camp Lejeune water may damage the DNA in bone marrow cells. This DNA damage can cause mistakes and flaws in new blood cells, leading to MDS.

Since bone marrow damage triggers both aplastic anemia and MDS, they can cause similar symptoms. These include fatigue, bleeding problems and frequent infections.

Symptoms of Blood Disorders Associated With Camp Lejeune Water Contamination

  • Dizziness
  • Fast or irregular heartbeat
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Frequent infections
  • Headache
  • Nosebleeds, bleeding gums or any bleeding that lasts too long
  • Red or purple spots on the skin caused by bleeding under the skin
  • Shortness of breath when exercising or being active
  • Unexplained or easy bruising
  • Unusually pale skin
  • Weakness
04. Cancers

Cancers Associated With Camp Lejeune Water Contamination

More than 20 types of cancer have been connected to water contamination exposure at Camp Lejeune. Symptoms of cancer are often caused by the body attempting to fight off the intruding cells or by tumors pressing on other organs.

Symptoms of Cancers Associated With Camp Lejeune Water Contamination

  • Bladder changes, such as pain when urinating, blood in the urine or changes in frequency
  • Changes in bowel habits, such as constipation, diarrhea or a change in how the stools look
  • Cough or hoarseness
  • Eating problems, such as reduced appetite, trouble swallowing, belly pain, nausea or vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Fever or night sweats
  • Headaches
  • Mouth changes such as sores, bleeding, pain or numbness
  • Pain, especially new pains or those with no known reason
  • Skin changes, such as a lump that bleeds or turns scaly, a new mole or a change in a mole, a sore that does not heal or jaundice
  • Swelling or lumps anywhere in the body
  • Unusual bleeding or bruising
  • Vision or hearing problems
  • Weight loss or gain of 10 pounds or more for no known reason
05. Kidney Diseases

Kidney Diseases Associated With Camp Lejeune Water Contamination

Camp Lejeune water has been linked to several kidney conditions including renal failure and end-stage renal disease. Renal failure happens when the kidneys stop removing waste and water from a person’s blood. Some cases of renal failure may be treatable. But untreated renal failure may lead to end-stage renal disease, which requires dialysis or a kidney transplant.

In the early stages of kidney disease or injury, patients may experience few to no symptoms. As the condition progresses, more symptoms may start to appear. Symptoms associated with loss of kidney function include fatigue, headaches and muscle twitches.

Camp Lejeune’s contaminated water has also been linked to other kidney issues, including nephrotic syndrome. This syndrome occurs when a person’s kidneys stop filtering correctly. This allows certain proteins to exit the bloodstream in urine. This filtering failure may occur as part of other kidney diseases.

Symptoms of Kidney Diseases Associated With Camp Lejeune Water Contamination

  • Changes in how much you urinate
  • Chest pain, if fluid builds up around the lining of the heart
  • Decreased mental sharpness
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Headaches
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Loss of appetite
  • Metallic taste
  • Muscle twitches and cramps
  • Nausea
  • Persistent itching
  • Shortness of breath, if fluid builds up in the lungs
  • Swelling of feet and ankles
  • Vomiting
06. Neurologic Disorders

Neurologic Disorders Associated With Camp Lejeune Water Contamination

Exposure to Camp Lejeune’s contaminated water has been linked to neurobehavioral effects and disorders. A National Research Council report tied many neurobehavioral symptoms to the contaminated water, including confusion and depression.

Symptoms of Neurobehavioral Effects Associated With Camp Lejeune Water Contamination

  • Alterations in neurobehavioral tests that indicate deficits in attention, reaction time, visuomotor coordination, motor function, digit symbol and contrast sensitivity
  • Confusion
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Lack of coordination
  • Neuropsychological disorders such as learning or behavioral disorders
  • Sensory disturbances
  • Tension
  • Trouble concentrating

The contaminated water has also been linked to Parkinson’s disease. Parkinson’s disease occurs when important brain cells die. The loss of cells causes abnormal activity in the surrounding area of the brain. This interferes with a person’s ability to move the way they want.

It may first manifest as a small tremor. However, the disease is progressive, with symptoms increasing in severity as time goes on. Common signs and symptoms of Parkinson’s disease include slowed movement and tremors.

Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease Associated With Camp Lejeune Water Contamination

  • Impaired posture and balance
  • Loss of automatic movements
  • Rigid muscles
  • Slowed movement (bradykinesia)
  • Speech changes
  • Tremors
  • Writing changes
07. Reproductive Issues

Reproductive Issues Associated With Camp Lejeune Water Contamination

The harmful chemicals present in Camp Lejeune’s water from August 1953 to December 1987 may have caused reproductive issues for some individuals. These issues include difficulties with conceiving and problems giving birth. The chemicals may also have caused conditions to develop in utero, affecting the health of the individuals’ children as well.

Birth defects and fetal malformations may be external and visibly obvious, such as a cleft palate, or internal, such as a heart condition. Infants may not have observable “symptoms” and are too young to report their own symptoms. A doctor can assess visible defects for the best path forward. Internal defects may be discovered when the baby is born or during early development.

In some unfortunate cases, exposure to harmful chemicals can cause fetal death or miscarriage. The mother may experience certain symptoms leading up to these events.

Signs of fetal death include:

  • No fetal heartbeat
  • Spotting or bleeding
  • Stopping of fetal movement and kicks

Signs of miscarriage include:

  • Fluid or tissue passing from the vagina
  • Pain or cramping in the abdomen or lower back
  • Vaginal spotting or bleeding

Chemical exposure from Camp Lejeune’s water may also lead to female infertility. The main sign of infertility is an inability to get pregnant. Changes in menstrual cycle may also be a sign. This can include cycles that are too long, too short, infrequent, inconsistent or completely absent.

If you or a loved one have experienced any of these issues, you may be eligible for compensation.

08. Other Disorders

Other Disorders Associated With Camp Lejeune Water Contamination

Other conditions have also been connected to Camp Lejeune’s contaminated water. These conditions include cardiac defects, fatty liver disease and scleroderma.

Cardiac Defects

Some research ties the Camp Lejeune water contaminants to serious heart defects in infants. These defects occur when parts of the heart or its major blood vessels form incorrectly. In some cases, this means the heart cannot pump oxygen-rich blood to the body efficiently, or at all.

Healthcare providers may find congenital heart defects during pregnancy through a routine ultrasound. If so, the mother may undergo a more specialized ultrasound later in the pregnancy. Aside from a potentially abnormal ultrasound, the mother may not have any symptoms that indicate a problem with the fetus’s heart.

Some congenital heart defects are diagnosed shortly after birth. Symptoms of congenital heart defects in newborns include blue skin and low blood oxygen levels. Children born with serious heart defects generally need prompt treatment, often with surgery. They may also have additional surgical and healthcare needs throughout their lives.

Hepatic Steatosis (Fatty Liver Disease)

Fatty liver disease occurs when extra fat develops in the liver. Most people with fatty liver disease do not have symptoms. But some cases may get worse over time. In such cases, scar tissue can form in damaged parts of the liver. If too much scarring occurs, it can replace healthy tissue, which can lead to liver failure.

Symptoms of fatty liver disease include:

  • Belly pain
  • Confusion
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Feeling of fullness in the upper right side of the abdomen
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Swelling of the belly and legs
  • Weakness
  • Weight loss


Scleroderma is a group of conditions in which certain tissues become hardened and tight. It commonly occurs in the skin but may also affect internal organs.

Scleroderma symptoms vary depending on which tissues it affects. Symptoms may include:

  • Bloating
  • Bumpy calcium deposits under the fingertip skin
  • Changes in skin color (lighter or darker)
  • Constipation
  • Decreased exercise ability
  • Diarrhea
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Fingers turning blue, red or white and feeling painful or numb
  • Heartburn
  • Itching
  • Loss of bowel control
  • Shiny skin appearance
  • Shortness of breath
  • Small red spots on the hands and face (telangiectasia)
  • Swelling of the feet, legs or skin
09. Treating Camp Lejeune Injuries

Receiving Treatment for Camp Lejeune Injuries

Individuals with conditions or illnesses caused by Camp Lejeune water may benefit from regular medical care. The optimal frequency and type of care will vary from condition to condition. People who develop cancer after their Camp Lejeune water exposure should seek care at a qualified cancer center.

Those living near Camp Lejeune have several nearby treatment options:

Duke Cancer Center

Duke Cancer Center

Durham, NC 27710

Wake Forest Baptist Health

Wake Forest Baptist Health

Winston-Salem, NC 27157

UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center

UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center

Chapel Hill, NC 27514

Individuals affected by Camp Lejeune water who no longer live in the area also have treatment options.

Top hospitals around the country with the expertise to treat many related conditions include:

Brigham and Women’s Hospital

Brigham and Women’s Hospital

Boston, MA 02115

Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

Los Angeles, CA 90048

Cleveland Clinic

Cleveland Clinic

Cleveland, OH 44195

Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center

Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center

Boston, MA 02114

Mayo Clinic Cancer Center

Mayo Clinic Cancer Center

Rochester, MN 55905

NY-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center

NY-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center

New York, NY 10032

Some individuals harmed by Camp Lejeune water may qualify for VA medical or disability benefits. This may include reimbursement for medical care, treatment at a VA center or monthly benefits. Even those who moved away from the base may be eligible. Anyone harmed by Camp Lejeune water should speak with a lawyer about their options. An experienced lawyer can help affected individuals understand and pursue their compensation and coverage options.

10. Common Questions

Common Questions About Contaminated Camp Lejeune Water

What are some common symptoms related to contaminated water exposure at Camp Lejeune?

So far, around 40 conditions have been associated with exposure to Camp Lejeune’s contaminated water. Each of these diseases has its own set of symptoms. However, a few common symptoms include:

  • Belly pain
  • Blood in the urine
  • Bone pain
  • Bruising or bleeding easily
  • Chills
  • Constipation
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Frequent or severe infections
  • Frequent urination
  • Loss of appetite
  • Low blood counts (low red blood cells, white blood cells or platelets)
  • Swollen belly
  • Weakness
  • Weight loss

How can I find out if I’m eligible to receive compensation for my injury?

Individuals who believe their disease might be related to contaminated water exposure from Camp Lejeune should contact a lawyer to discuss their options. General eligibility criteria for a Camp Lejeune lawsuit includes:

  • Development of one or more of the qualifying conditions associated with contaminated water exposure
  • Presence at the base for 30 or more days between August 1953 and December 1987

How much time do I have to file a Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuit?

The normal North Carolina statutes of limitations for personal injury and wrongful death do not apply to Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuits. The Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 provides victims of the base’s contaminated water two years to file after its enactment. Veterans and family members who develop a disease associated with the water contamination should speak to a lawyer as soon as possible to get their case started.

Is the water at Camp Lejeune safe to drink today?

Camp Lejeune’s water is safe to drink today and has been for several decades. The base’s most contaminated wells were shut down in 1985. The water has been shown to be safe since 1987.

What if I wasn’t assigned to or did not live in a contaminated area?

You may still be eligible for compensation even if you weren’t assigned to a contaminated area or did not reside there. Veterans and their families may have spent 30 days or more in contaminated areas for a number of reasons including, but not limited to, training, schooling and recreational activities.

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