Exposure to toxic agents on military bases can result in neurotoxicity

By Treven Pyles

Posted on April 11th, 2021

When a person is frequently exposed to a toxic substance, neurotoxicity affects the normal activity of the nervous system. People who were stationed at military bases on which PFAS were present are at high risk of coming to struggle with neurotoxicity. However, this diagnosis is very challenging to assign.

Neurotoxicity causes great damage to the brain or the peripheral nervous system. The person exposed to the toxic agent eventually alters the nervous system's activity by disrupting or killing the nerves. Because nerves are essential for transmitting and processing information in the brain and other areas of the nervous system, individuals with neurotoxicity will experience significant distress in their everyday lives. Some of the most common substances that can be neurotoxic to humans are radiation, heavy metals such as mercury and lead, pesticides, industrial and cleaning solvents, certain food additives, and formaldehyde.

However, PFAS, a group of toxic fluorinated chemicals, are also neurotoxic to humans, which is why numerous people who were stationed at military bases contaminated with these substances come to struggle with neurotoxicity. At the moment, PFAS are deemed potentially neurotoxic by health agencies throughout the United States.

The main source of PFAS on military bases is the use of aqueous film-forming foam, commonly known as AFFF, by firefighters and trainees. While very effective in extinguishing jet fuel and petroleum fires, this fire suppressant inevitably releases PFAS in the environment, where they persist since they are forever chemicals.

What is neurotoxicity?

Defined as the poisoning of the brain and the nervous system, neurotoxicity is a known effect of exposure to a wide range of toxic chemicals. However, doctors often fail to recognize it, making assigning a correct diagnosis very difficult for the injured person. Usually, people with neurotoxicity experience a confusing array of symptoms and have no medical diagnosis assigned.

Furthermore, their symptoms may seem vague and unconnected. Nevertheless, once the dots are connected and the person receives a diagnosis of neurotoxicity, they will receive the treatment they need. Anyone who suffered a serious chemical injury is very likely to have sustained considerable damage to their brain and nervous system.

The chemicals that cause neurotoxicity are known as neurotoxins. Depending on the profile of the neurotoxin, it will cause damage to certain portions or specific cellular elements of the nervous system. The body's response to neurotoxins highly depends on factors such as the neurotransmitter affected, the cellular membrane integrity, and the presence of detoxifying mechanisms.

Some neurotoxins act directly on neural cells, whereas others interfere with metabolic processes on which the nervous system is particularly dependent. Others disrupt neural function or induce maldevelopment or damage to the nervous system. Disturbances may appear and disappear rapidly, evolve slowly, and regress over the years or cause permanent damage.

How to recognize neurotoxicity

Most of the symptoms of neurotoxicity can be documented, but not in the way most people may think. The ability of a person to think, perceive, control emotions, plan, and manage their life can diminish significantly without anything being visible to a radiologist or neurologist on MRI or CT scans. For this reason, the most reliable way to assess brain function in people with neurotoxicity is through a neuropsychological evaluation.

Imaging techniques provide little help in assessing neurotoxicity. Nonetheless, they may be useful for showing abnormalities caused by neurotoxicity and forensic purposes, but they are not helpful for routine screening. Some of the most common symptoms of neurotoxicity include the following:

  • chronic pain
  • anxiety
  • neurobehavioral performance deficits
  • confusion
  • headaches
  • panic attacks
  • depression
  • cognitive decline
  • memory problems
  • concentration problems
  • multiple sclerosis
  • impaired control of the limbs
  • headaches or migraines
  • sleep disorders
  • balance and hearing problems

Furthermore, people with neurotoxicity may experience multi-organ system malfunction, lower or upper respiratory problems, chronic sinus problems, multiple chemical sensitivity, liver or kidney problems, and fibromyalgia or other pain disorders.?If you were stationed at one or multiple military bases contaminated with PFAS and experienced some of the above symptoms, please seek medical attention as soon as possible, as you may have developed neurotoxicity due to toxic exposure.

If you suspect you have this diagnosis but are not assigned neurotoxicity upon your first medical appointment, you should look for a second and even a third opinion from other specialists, as pinpointing the exact cause of your symptoms is often challenging for healthcare professionals if your suffering is the result of toxic exposure.

What to do if you believe you have neurotoxicity

If you suspect you developed neurotoxicity as a consequence of exposure to toxic agents in the military, there are several ways in which you can gather pertinent evidence of your diagnosis. These are the steps you should follow if you believe you struggle with neurotoxicity:

  • Document your chemical injury: You can document your chemical injury in numerous ways, such as providing evidence of your symptoms by using your medical records and using official data to prove the existence of toxic agents on the military base you were stationed at.
  • Undergo a neuropsychological evaluation: Because this procedure reveals both the most detailed view and the most subtle problems of the working brain, it is ideal for determining whether you have neurotoxicity or another diagnosis. A neuropsychological evaluation typically includes a full battery of tests that can take up to 12 hours to complete. It will assess crucial brain functions such as memory, concentration, the ability to learn new information, plan, manage, and carry out a plan, perceptual functions, motor functions, personality, emotion, and motivation. In addition, a neuropsychological evaluation can often detect whether the changes in your brain occurred as a result of a toxic injury.
  • Have your personality and emotional function assessed: People who suffered a chemical injury can suffer personality changes resulting from brain damage. Therefore, the neuropsychologist should consider your medical history and conduct a record review to determine whether any personality disorders were preexisting or caused by the chemical injury. Unfortunately, it is not unusual for individuals suffering from neurotoxicity to be misdiagnosed with psychological issues because of their depression and anxiety, the sheer number of their symptoms, and their belief that chemicals made them ill. To minimize this error, you should choose the most qualified experts you can find familiar with chemical injury and neurotoxicity.
  • Test your body for the signs of toxic exposure: While looking for concrete evidence of toxic exposure on the body is often extremely challenging for medical professionals, it can be done by testing the blood or urine for traces of the chemical you were exposed to if toxic exposure occurred recently. If it occurred in the distant past, proof can still be found in fat and tissues. Thereby, collecting a piece of fat or tissue from your body and having it examined by a specialist can prove toxic exposure if you are trying to obtain financial compensation for your diagnosis of neurotoxicity.

On which military bases are PFAS present at the moment?

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, there are more than 700 military sites where PFAS are currently lurking. Nonetheless, not all of these military sites are military bases where people are stationed.

It is worthy of note that there are numerous other military bases where PFAS are present. Therefore, regardless of the military base you were stationed at, if you know, AFFF had been used there and experience symptoms that point to neurotoxicity, we strongly encourage you to have your health assessed by multiple medical professionals.

Quality legal assistance for people injured by toxic agents on military bases

With over 25 years of experience in pursuing compensation on behalf of victims of toxic exposure, our law firm specializes in this area of practice. It is ready to go to great lengths to help you recover the compensation you may be entitled to from the liable companies if you were injured by toxic agents in the military. Although the legal process is quite complex and tedious, it will require minimal involvement on your part, as we are aware that victims of toxic exposure are often in great physical and emotional pain.

It is important to know that you cannot recover financial compensation for neurotoxicity, as this diagnosis does not have a definitive causal relation with exposure to PFAS. However, if you have any other diagnosis that makes you eligible for filing a toxic exposure claim, we may be able to help you. We will only need your military records, which you must retrieve if you are a veteran or evidence of your stay at the contaminated military base, and your medical records. If you decide to work with our skilled legal team, you may receive the compensation available for your diagnosis.