Drinking-water systems that supplied two areas of housing at Camp Lejeune were contaminated with industrial chemicals from at least 1953 to 1985. The contaminated wells were shut down in February 1985.
The duration and intensity of the exposure at Camp Lejeune are unknown. The geographic extent of contamination by specific chemicals also is unknown.
Studies currently being conducted by The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) may, in the future, provide scientific information to help evaluate possible service-connection for health effects or to make policy changes.
A study on birth defects and childhood cancers released by the ATSDR in Dec. 2013 shows some evidence of an increased risk of neural tube defects, oral clefts, and childhood hematopoietic cancers (such as leukemia) in children whose mothers were exposed to contaminated Camp Lejeune water. The small number of cases in the study did not allow any firm conclusions to be drawn as to whether this small increased risk was caused by exposure to chemicals or occurred by chance.
Scientific studies show some evidence of an increased risk of kidney cancer in workers exposed to high levels of TCE over many years. High-level benzene exposure is associated with an increased risk of leukemia.
According to the National Research Council 2009 report, Contaminated Water Supplies at Camp Lejeune: "It cannot be determined reliably whether diseases and disorders experienced by former residents and workers at Camp Lejeune are associated with their exposure to contaminants in the water supply because of data shortcomings and methodological limitations, and these limitations cannot be overcome with additional study."
If you have health concerns about exposure to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune, talk to your health care provider or local VA Environmental Health Coordinator.
Learn about health benefits for Camp Lejeune Veterans and family members.