A common neurological effect among children who spent time at Camp Lejeune is hyperactivity
As the name suggests, neurobehavioral effects occur when the way the brain affects emotion, behavior, and learning becomes impaired. It is important to note that neurobehavioral effects can be the result of toxic exposure that occurred at Camp Lejeune during the last century.
The following are some examples of neurobehavioral effects whose source is exposure to dangerous chemicals such as organic solvents, which lurked in the drinking water at the military base for nearly 35 years in dangerous concentrations:
- poor memory
- poor concentration
- motor problems
- lack of coordination
- sensory disturbances
- deficits in reaction time
- behavioral disorders
- learning disorders
According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, frequent exposure to low concentrations of trichloroethylene is linked to neurobehavioral deficits. While in general, the main exposure route to solvents is inhalation, in the case of Camp Lejeune veterans, it was ingestion, as the drinking water was heavily contaminated. A study found that exposure to these solvents, which were present in the drinking water at Camp Lejeune, is responsible for neurobehavioral effects:
- vinyl chloride
The acute health effects of organic solvents on the central nervous system include headache, dizziness, lightheadedness progressing to unconsciousness, seizures, and, eventually, death. Early research suggests that long-term, high-level solvent exposure might be associated with a syndrome of personality change, memory impairment, and neurological deficits known as chronic toxic encephalopathy, psycho-organic syndrome, or solvent neurotoxicity.
According to a study from the Archives of Environmental & Occupational Health, prolonged exposure to low levels of organic solvents was associated with adverse neurobehavioral effects among male printing workers. The researchers observed 115 printing workers exposed to organic solvents from the printing divisions of 3 printing factories. Their exposure to organic solvents can be comparable to that of veterans stationed at Camp Lejeune, as it would occur regularly.
Finally, a study from the medical journal Neurotoxicology and Teratology reveals that short-duration exposure to solvents at even low concentrations can induce signs of mild toxicity, such as mucous membrane irritation, tearing, nasal irritation, headache, and nausea. With higher exposures, the adverse effects are more pronounced and can refer to intoxication, incoordination, exhilaration, sleepiness, stupor, and the beginning stages of anesthesia.