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Camp Lejeune and non-Hodgkin Lymphoma

Marines, their loved ones, and others who have developed non-Hodgkin lymphoma after living or working at Camp Lejeune between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987, are filing lawsuits. The water at Camp Lejeune was polluted with toxic cancer-causing chemicals, exposure to which has been linked to non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has estimated that 500,000 to 1 million people were exposed to the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune between 1953 and 1987, when authorities closed the last of several contaminated wells.

Camp Lejeune Water and non-Hodgkin Lymphoma

Contaminants in the water at Camp Lejeune  included the volatile (unstable) organic compounds trichloroethylene (TCE), perchloroethylene (PCE), and benzene as well as vinyl chloride and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Scientific research has established a causal link between non-Hodgkin lymphoma and exposure to these toxic chemicals

  • Benzene: Benzene is produced by both natural and man-made processes. It is used in industries such as the chemical and oil industries, and studies have linked exposure to benzene with the development of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
  • Perchloroethylene (PCE): PCE is an organic chemical and is toxic to humans, even in low concentrations. It is the primary solvent used in industrial and commercial dry cleaning, and tests showed extraordinarily high levels of PCE in Camp Lejeune’s water. One source of the PCE in the water at Camp Lejeune is thought to be an off-base dry-cleaner named ABC One-Hour Cleaners.
  • Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs): PCBs were commonly used in electrical equipment and other industrial applications until they were banned in the 1970s. PCBs are known to linger in the environment for many years and contaminated water sources at Camp Lejeune. Drinking water contaminated with PCBs has been scientifically linked to an increased risk of developing NHL.
  • Trichloroethylene (TCE): TCE is a colorless volatile organic compound. It was widely used in industry as a cleaning agent and a degreaser, mainly for metal. At Camp Lejeune, TCE was used, among other things, to clean machinery. It is likely the TCE contamination in the water came from that cleaning use, from spills at industrial sites on-base, and from leaks from storage drums and underground tanks. Another source of the TCE contamination was an off-base dry-cleaner named ABC One-Hour Cleaners. That dry cleaner used some of the TCE sludge left over from its cleaning process to fill potholes, and also simply dumped it into the drains. Rainwater then carried off the discarded sludge, which eventually leached into the drinking water.
  • Vinyl chloride: Vinyl chloride is a man-made chemical used in the production of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a plastic material.

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, found that the levels of these four carcinogenic chemicals in the water at Camp Lejeune were well above the maximum contaminant levels allowed in the United States. The maximum levels for PCE, TCE, and vinyl chloride are 5 parts per billion (ppb), and the maximum is 2 ppb for benzene. The ATSDR reported that, “In the Hadnot Point system, the median monthly estimated average concentrations of TCE, PCE, vinyl chloride and benzene was 366 ppb, 15 ppb, 22 ppb and 5 ppb, respectively. In the Tarawa Terrace system, the median monthly estimated average concentrations of PCE, TCE and vinyl chloride were 85 ppb, 4 ppb and 6 ppb.”

Almost without exception, the levels of those carcinogenic chemicals found in Camp Lejeune water are far over the legal limit. In fact, they are generally multiples of the legal maximums—exceeding 70x the legal limit in the case of the PCE level in the Hadnot Point system. Compare the 5 ppb and 2 ppb legal limit to the average concentrations of 366 ppb, 15 ppb, 22 ppb, and 85 ppb.

non-Hodgkin Lymphoma

NHL is not just one disease; it is a group of blood cancers that all begin in the lymphocytes, which are white blood cells in the body’s immune system. Your immune system helps your body fight infections and some diseases; it also helps fluids move through your body.

Lymphoma affects the body’s lymph, or lymphatic, system. It can start anywhere in the body where lymph nodes or lymph tissue are found and can also affect the skin. Lymph tissue can be found throughout the body, including in:

  • Lymph nodes, which are groups of lymphocytes and other immune system cells found throughout the body including the abdomen, chest, and pelvis. Lymph nodes are about the size of a bean.
  • The digestive tract (intestines, stomach, and other organs in the abdomen).
  • Your tonsils and adenoids.
  • Bone marrow, where new blood cells are made, including some lymphocytes.
  • The spleen—an organ that also makes lymphocytes and other immune system cells.
  • The thymus, which is an organ in front of the heart.

Camp Lejeune, the PACT Act, Contaminated Water, and non-Hodgkin Lymphoma

The Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 allows those affected by the toxic water and who lived or worked at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 consecutive days between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987, to file a lawsuit in federal court to be compensated for their pain and suffering and for expenses related to their diagnosis and medical treatment.

Even veterans who have had claims related to their service at Camp Lejeune denied by the Veterans Administration may qualify for compensation under this new law.

But there are strict time limits for filing a Camp Lejeune lawsuit. People diagnosed before June 2020 must file their lawsuit by August 2024 (two years from the passage of the Act). And there are other requirements, too. So, if you served or worked at Camp Lejeune between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987, and have been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, contact us for a free consultation



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