Vinyl chloride exposure, associated with a high risk of liver cancer in veterans

Treven Pyles

By Treven Pyles

Posted on July 20th, 2023

Also known as chloroethene, vinyl chloride is a chemical used primarily to make polyvinyl chloride, a resin employed in the manufacturing of a variety of plastic products, including pipes, cable coatings, and packaging materials. Vinyl chloride was present in the drinking water at Camp Lejeune in alarming concentrations.

Vinyl chloride is a colorless, highly flammable gas. It does not occur naturally and must be manufactured industrially for the many commercial uses it has. The chemical is a reactive compound but is stable under recommended storage and handling conditions. Exposure to vinyl chloride is associated with a high risk of hepatic angiosarcoma, a rare form of liver cancer, as well as with hepatocellular carcinoma, the most common form of liver cancer. This substance might also cause lung cancer, lymphoma, brain cancer, and leukemia. It is important for Camp Lejeune veterans and family members to know that if they struggle with one of these diseases, they can seek financial compensation.

Before vinyl chloride exposure causes liver cancer, it might initially lead to liver disease, which greatly increases the risk of cancer. People exposed to vinyl chloride might develop cirrhosis, scarring of the liver tissue. Between 80% and 90% of individuals with cirrhosis will develop primary liver cancer. It is worth noting that vinyl chloride exposure has a synergistic effect with other risk factors of liver disease, such as heavy alcohol consumption and chronic viral infection. According to a study from the World Journal of Gastroenterology, exposure to vinyl chloride causes a substantial burden of liver diseases - in the last update of an Italian cohort, 29% of deaths among workers in the highest exposure category were from liver cancer or cirrhosis.

If you lived at Camp Lejeune, either as a veteran or a family member of one, when the drinking water was toxic, and now suspect you might have liver cancer, these are the symptoms you should look out for and for which you should seek medical attention immediately:

  • pain in the abdomen
  • yellowing of the skin
  • pain in the right shoulder
  • swelling of the abdomen
  • pale bowel motions
  • loss of appetite
  • weakness and fatigue
  • nausea and vomiting

In addition to liver cancer, vinyl chloride exposure may cause neurologic or behavioral symptoms, permanent liver injury, and changes to the skin and bones of the hand. According to a study from Occupational and Environmental Medicine, in workers exposed to high levels of respirable vinyl chloride particles, the lung cancer risk increased by 20% for each year of work. This is comparable to the situation of Camp Lejeune veterans and family members, as they were exposed to dangerous concentrations of vinyl chloride from drinking water, often over the course of several years. Therefore, lung cancer is another health risk associated with vinyl chloride exposure.

Finally, in a study from Occupational & Environmental Medicine in which vinyl chloride workers were the participants, there were 11 cases of lung cancer versus 8 expected, 7 cases of melanomas versus 2.07 expected, and 2 cases of thyroid cancer versus 0.34 expected. Vinyl chloride is a known carcinogen, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Consequently, exposure to this chemical can result in numerous malignant diseases.

Quality legal assistance for Camp Lejeune water contamination victims

Since 1990, our diligent attorneys have been pursuing compensation for toxic exposure victims, including many veterans, and they will gladly offer you a free case evaluation if you spent time at Camp Lejeune and now struggle with a disease. To have their claims assessed, veterans will need to provide our legal team with their military records, which they must retrieve, and their medical records.

Family members who intend to file a claim will have to send us evidence of their stay at the military base along with their medical records so we can have a starting point in reviewing their cases.

Because we understand how physically and emotionally draining suffering from a serious disease can be, the legal process will mostly take place over the phone with minimal involvement from you. After a comprehensive evaluation of your situation, we will let you know whether you are eligible to file a Camp Lejeune toxic water claim. Eligible individuals will have their claims expedited so they can obtain the money they deserve pain as soon as possible. We work on a contingency fee basis, which means you will not have to pay anything out of pocket unless we obtain money for you.