Posted on August 21st, 2020
Throughout the course of several decades, an undetermined number of service members were exposed to carcinogenic contaminants while stationed at certain military bases. Families of those affected began a long relationship with doctors and, in many cases, the VA - a dynamic that has brought them both support and challenges.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) health estimates, exposure to toxic environmental agents is responsible for between 7% and 19% of human cancers. Therefore, if you have a current cancer diagnosis and your military records show that you were stationed at one or multiple contaminated military bases for one year or longer, you are eligible for compensation, and we will prioritize your claim.
Throughout the course of several decades, an undetermined number of residents, including infants, children, and civilian workers and personnel, were exposed to carcinogenic contaminants while stationed at certain military bases.
A carcinogen is any substance or agent with the capacity to cause cancer in humans. Exposure to carcinogens can occur through inhalation, ingestion, or skin absorption of many different types of substances into our bodies. Carcinogens work by interacting with a cell's DNA and inducing genetic mutations.
These include a change in the rate of cell division, which increases the probability of abnormal DNA synthesis. This can lead to cancer - a group of diseases involving abnormal cell growth to infiltrate and destroy normal body tissue.
Various scientific organizations found that past exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals like heavy metals, PFAS, flame retardants, and industrial solvents likely increased the risk of developing certain types of cancers. The health risks raised by the prolonged presence of these chemicals are deeply concerning to many veterans and military families who were stationed at one of the targeted military facilities.
The level of toxins everywhere from Camp Lejeune to Fort Irwin in California to Patrick Air Force Base in Florida to Fort McClellan in Alabama to Alaska to Guam to Hawaii were significantly higher than acceptable levels for toxic compounds in either drinking water or groundwater sources.
Donald B., an Army veteran, was exposed to various dangerous toxins while stationed at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, a United States military facility located in Hampton, Virginia, from 1978 to 1983. During his military career, Donald faced many dangers, but he had no idea one of his greatest battles would come decades later, fighting an unfamiliar foe, cancer. "I have a form of cancer that can't be cured and isn't responding to treatment," he said.
In 2014, as part of its responsibility to evaluate health hazards at specific superfund sites, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), issued a position on the environmental contamination at Camp Lejeune.
The agency found that compared to the Marines stationed at Camp Pendleton, a well-known Marine Corps Installation in California, active duty military members stationed at Camp Lejeune have about:
There is also some evidence that other cancers, such as cancers of the esophagus, rectum, and soft tissue, may also occur if a person is exposed to dangerous chemicals for a sustained period of time.