Every year, communities across the country are affected by instances of water contamination that make our most essential resource unsafe. Famous cases include Flint and Benton Harbor crises, which you may have heard of before. But these are just the tip of the iceberg. More recently, another incident has also been making headlines: the long-standing water contamination at Camp Lejeune. This water crisis is a public health disaster that has affected the lives of thousands of people in the United States.
Where Is Camp Lejeune?
Camp Lejeune is a military installation located on the Atlantic coast in Jacksonville, North Carolina. Originally opened in 1941, Camp Lejeune was the largest Marine Corps base at the time and subsequently served as a training camp for millions of American service members. These military members lived and worked on the base, often bringing their families to stay with them.
Far from its distinguished beginnings, the camp’s reputation has since become synonymous with a public health emergency and failure of government oversight. However, the story of Camp Lejeune isn’t ancient history. The base is still in operation, and no plans have been announced to close it. This is despite growing awareness and controversy around significant water contamination over 35 years.
Camp Lejeune Water Contamination
Camp Lejeune was home to more than 150,000 Marines and their families between 1953 and 1987. Unfortunately, during this period, residents were exposed to toxic contaminants in the camp’s drinking water supply. This impacted water quality in various base facilities and residential housing on post.
The contaminants at Camp Lejeune included volatile organic compounds, such as benzene and vinyl chloride. These chemicals have been linked to various health issues, from liver cancer to leukemia. Victims are especially at risk if they’ve been repeatedly exposed to these compounds over time, such as the people who encountered them while living and working and Camp Lejeune.
Exposure to benzene and vinyl chloride can result in many side effects, including:
- Liver and kidney damage
- Reproductive damage
- Decreased fertility
- Nervous system disorders
- Lowered immune system function
- Birth defects in infants and children
The camp’s water supply was also affected by dangerous levels of lead, arsenic, and perchloroethylene. Lead and arsenic are both heavy metals and common elements found in the environment, but excessive exposure to these substances can create serious health issues. As a result, camp residents who came into contact with too much lead or arsenic may suffer from illnesses such as:
- Neurological problems
- Heart disease
- Cognitive disorders
- Skin and eye problems
Meanwhile, perchloroethylene is a chemical that can cause lung cancer and liver and kidney damage. With so many hazardous contaminants all in the water supply simultaneously, camp residents were exposed to a truly dangerous cocktail of toxins.
As a result of this widespread contamination, veterans who resided at Camp Lejeune during the affected time have suffered from several illnesses ranging from cancer to birth defects. To date, there are still ongoing legal battles for those seeking compensation for their exposure to the contaminated Camp Lejeune water.
The Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Lawsuit
In response to this crisis, families of camp residents have filed lawsuits to seek compensation for their medical bills and other losses. In 2014, a class action lawsuit was approved by the United States District Court in North Carolina that sought damages for those affected by the camp’s water contamination.
Additionally, the Lejeune Act was passed in 2012 to compensate veterans who served at Camp Lejeune for illnesses that have resulted from their exposure to the camp’s water supply. The law also provides medical care and treatment for veterans and family members exposed to contaminated camp water.
Water Contamination in America
Despite the legal victories for camp residents, water contamination remains an ongoing problem across the United States. Every year, millions of people are exposed to contaminated water — and many may not even realize it. For instance, huge swathes of active infrastructure still rely on lead plumbing, risking serious health consequences and even death. The EPA estimates that there are up to 10 million lead service lines in use across the US.
In addition to lead piping, many areas of the country may fall prey to water contamination due to heavy agricultural and industrial runoff. This can lead to high levels of nitrates, which have been linked to health risks such as cancer, birth defects, and other developmental problems. And there is always a chance that your water supply may become exposed to harmful bacterial contaminants like E. coli, Giardia, or Legionella, leading to serious illness and even death in some cases.
In short, we can’t always trust that the water coming out of our taps is as clean and safe as it may appear. With increasing instances of lead poisoning and other environmental issues, it is important to find ways to protect your drinking water wherever possible.
Protecting Our Water Sources
Despite public crises like the depth of contamination that plagued Camp Lejeune water sources, there are still ways to ensure that your home maintains access to clean and safe drinking water. Thankfully, advances in science have allowed us to better understand how contaminants enter our water supply and what can be done to minimize exposure.
In the case of camp residents, military officials discovered that carbon filtration could be used to reduce contaminants and bring camp water up to standards. For your own home, you can find a variety of water filtration systems that use high-tech carbon filters and other means like reverse osmosis to remove contaminants from your drinking water.
Prioritize Clean, Safe H2O with The Science of Water
At The Science of Water, we understand that tap water safety is a critical priority to protect your health and your family. That’s why we offer free tap water testing and consultations to guarantee the safety of your water supply.
At The Science of Water, we assess and install water filtration systems to meet your unique needs. Using filtration technology backed by NASA and the EPA, our advanced water systems purify your home’s tap water to the highest standard. Whatever you’re looking for in a water filtration system, we can help you enjoy safer, clearer, and more delicious water through every faucet and appliance in your home.
Don’t wait to find out about contamination when it’s already too late. Proactively protect your household with tap water testing and filtration for pure, delicious water that can be relied on. For more information about The Science of Water or to book your free water test, just get in touch with our team today!