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Posted on August 12th, 2020
Some chemicals are often referred to generally as "reprotoxic substances". They include a variety of potentially harmful chemical agents e.g. metals, some solvents, and other chemicals. If they are inhaled or ingested, these reprotoxic substances may produce impairment of male or female reproductive functions or capacity.
According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, the contamination was discovered in 1982 in several wells that fed into two of the treatment plants located on the main portion of the Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune. The agency, which has been studying the contamination since 1993, blamed leaking underground storage tanks, spills, and drum disposal as well as solvent-disposal practices at an off-base dry cleaner.
As many as one million military and civilian staff and their families at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina were exposed to toxic chemicals that may have caused sexual dysfunction, congenital abnormalities, and cancers of the reproductive organs.
12 pounds of elemental mercury were found in a pipe at Hadnot Point. Elemental mercury does not naturally degrade in the environment.
Once in the environment, mercury persists and can cycle between air, soil, plants, and animals for extended periods.
Some chemicals with hormonal activity, so-called endocrine disrupters, may alter the function of the endocrine system and consequently cause adverse reproductive effects. Researchers warn that benzene - another toxic contaminant identified at Camp Lejeune - may disrupt people's hormone systems at levels deemed "safe" for use.
Effects of the hazardous contaminants on the reproductive system of men and women can manifest as:
Exposure to chemicals that contain high levels of toxicity can cause direct cell damage in the developing sperm and eggs. Maternal exposure during pregnancy may disturb fetal development by either directly or indirectly interfering with maternal, placental, or fetal membrane functions. The mother's ingestion of harmful substances may also cause contamination of her breast milk.