Environmental contamination at Camp Lejeune linked to an increased risk of reproductive health problems

By Michael Bartlett

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.

Chemicals identified at Camp Lejeune can induce impairments in the reproductive function

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:

  • alterations in sex hormone levels
  • diminished libido and potency
  • menstrual disorders
  • premature menopause
  • delayed menarche
  • ovarian dysfunction
  • impairment of semen quality
  • reduced male and female fertility

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.

We help veterans who suffer from critical illnesses like reproductive disorders receive the compensation they deserve

Prior to 1987, veterans who served at U.S. Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, were potentially exposed to dangerous substances. The chemical compounds involved - volatile organic compounds used in industrial solvents and components of fuels - have been associated by various scientific organizations with the possible development of certain chronic diseases.

Currently, veterans who suffer from critical illnesses like reproductive disorders, receive no presumptive disability compensation. However, the VA will consider claims from veterans based on illnesses caused by exposure to toxins at Camp Lejeune. Consequently, veterans must have a medical opinion indicating that their current illness was caused by toxic exposure. Likewise, veterans must have served at least 30 consecutive or non-consecutive days at the base between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987, and must have been discharged under conditions other than dishonorable.

Veterans who suffer from critical illnesses related to Camp Lejeune contamination may be eligible for VA health and compensation benefits. Contact Environmental Litigation Group, P.C. to learn more about your right to these benefits. We provide free consultations to veterans nationwide.