There is a causal association between moderate hydrocarbon exposure among veterans and renal toxicity
In the context of toxic exposure occurring at Camp Lejeune, a simple definition of renal toxicity is kidney disease or dysfunction arising as a direct or indirect result of exposure to industrial solvents. The kidney damage solvent toxicity causes usually leads to the inability of the body to remove excess urine and waste. As a consequence, blood electrolytes such as potassium and magnesium will become elevated. Kidney damage is the consequence of muscle tissue breakdown. Therefore, renal toxicity can be responsible for numerous kidney problems, including:
- kidney disease
- kidney failure
- kidney cancer
- kidney injury
According to a study from the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, solvent exposure may have a role in the progression of glomerulonephritis, a condition that causes damage to the tiny filters inside the kidneys. This is a form of kidney injury. If solvent exposure continues, patients with glomerulonephritis can eventually develop end-stage renal disease, a condition in which the kidneys cease functioning permanently, leading to the need for a regular course of dialysis or a kidney transplant to maintain life. The findings of this research support the association of solvent exposure with the progression of glomerulonephritis to end-stage renal disease.
A study from the medical journal Safety and Health at Work found that benzene exposure can result in kidney dysfunction. Benzene was another solvent present in the drinking water at Camp Lejeune. The researchers discovered that exposure to benzene and alkyl benzene was associated with kidney injury and kidney cancer. Other effects benzene exposure might have on the kidneys include:
- renal tubular acidosis
Finally, exposure to perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, commonly known as PFAS or "forever chemicals", can also lead to renal toxicity. A study from the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology suggests that PFAS are linked to poorer kidney function and other kidney problems. The researchers state that the kidneys are very sensitive organs, especially when it comes to environmental toxins that can get into our bloodstream, such as PFAS. After 1967, these harmful chemicals began lurking in the drinking water at Camp Lejeune as a result of military firefighters using the fire suppressant AFFF excessively.
Exposure to PFAS is associated with alterations and disruptions in multiple pathways related to kidney disease. On a cellular level, many studies found kidney-related pathway alterations, some of which included the following:
- disruptions in peroxisome proliferators-activated receptor pathways
- disruption in oxidative stress pathways
- greater endothelial permeability from actin filament modeling
- de-differentiation of kidney tubular epithelial cells