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Myelodysplastic syndromes related to Camp Lejeune toxic exposure

By Shaniqua Williams

Posted on August 17th, 2020

Reportedly, the Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune was contaminated with high levels of benzene, a dangerous chemical known to cause harm to the bone marrow. Long-term exposure to certain industrial chemicals such as benzene can trigger myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) - rare and serious disorders also known as pre-leukemia.

Soil pollution occurs when man-made products such as oil, gas, and other organic compounds, seep into the natural soil environment. Some of the most common sources of these contaminants are storage tanks, septic systems, hazardous waste sites, landfills, and businesses that use hazardous materials.

The toxic exposure at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune will likely go down in history as the stage of one of the worst chemical pollution in the country. Between 1957 and 1987, as many as one million Marines at Camp Lejeune and their family members were exposed to extremely toxic volatile organic compounds, to include:

  • benzene
  • vinyl chloride
  • perchloroethylene (PCE)
  • trichloroethylene (TCE)

Exposure to benzene affects the development of white blood cells

Instances of industrial discharge, both accidental and deliberate, have caused widespread benzene exposure in entire communities through soil, rivers, streams, lakes, and ponds. One notable case was at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, United States military training facility in Jacksonville, North Carolina where as many as 800,000 gallons of fuel leaked from underground storage tanks near a well that served base barracks, officers' quarters, and the base hospital.

Long-term exposure to benzene and certain chemicals used in the petroleum industry has been shown to cause hematological toxicity and an increased incidence of myelodysplastic syndromes in humans.

Myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) are a group of diseases caused by abnormal blood cells forming in the bone marrow which generally occur in older adults but may also affect children. There are several types of MDS, and they are classified based on how many types of blood cells are affected. Some types of MDS are more likely to turn into leukemia, an aggressive blood cancer.

Patients who do not progress to leukemia may experience a gradual fall-off in marrow function leading to worsening anemia, bleeding, and infection which despite transfusions of red cells and platelets, and antibiotics to treat the infection, can ultimately be fatal.

Financial compensation for Camp Lejeune veterans diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndromes who meet the time-on-station and service date requirements

Any veteran who served at Camp Lejeune between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987, and who is diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndromes, is strongly encouraged to file a disability claim with the VA as soon as possible to maximize their benefits.

Veterans with at least 30 days of service (consecutive or nonconsecutive) at Camp Lejeune within that time period may be eligible for service connection on a presumptive basis for certain conditions associated with the toxic exposure, including myelodysplastic syndromes. In order to receive a presumptive service connection for myelodysplastic syndromes, Camp Lejeune veterans must show that they served during the specified time period and have a current diagnosis.

For more information on how our attorneys can help you, please complete our free case review form today. There is no cost or obligation to have your claim evaluated by Environmental Litigation Group, P.C.