Toxic exposure issues on military bases
Many active service members and their families were commissioned by the military to live on military bases where common practices allowed for the dumping of oil, industrial wastewater, and potentially radioactive toxic chemicals into storm drains.
Once an individual has been exposed to a toxic chemical, it can impact virtually every system in the body, resulting in both short-term and chronic health consequences. The most common route by which a chemical may enter the body is through inhalation; other pathways are by means of ingestion and directly through the skin.
At many military bases & installations owned and/or used by the United States Armed Forces, the contamination is so severe that they have been designated Superfund sites by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, meaning that they are among the most hazardous areas in the country that need immediate and intense cleanup.
According to the U.S. Department of Defense, there are over 600 military sites that are Superfund sites. The hazardous chemicals in which the EPA considers for superfund sites include:
- per-and polyfluorinated substances
- carbon tetrachloride
- trichloroethylene (TCE)
- perchloroethylene (PCE)
- 1,1- dichloroethane
- 1,2- dichloroethane
- methylene chloride
- polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB)
- polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs)
- vinyl chloride
- halogenated hydrocarbons
The toxicity of these substances is undeniable, and their persistence and accumulation within the body should be cause for significant concern. These chemicals also accumulate and persist in our environment, with the ability for long-range transport far from the emission points.
Military bases and installations that have records of toxic exposure issues
Many toxic substances such as chlorinated solvents, industrial chemicals, petroleum hydrocarbons, and metals are present in the soil at disused military bases and installations at levels that exceed the Environmental Protection Agency’s health guidelines. The natural and man-made substances that are found on Superfund sites are designated by the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Information System (CERCLIS) as the following:
- cause serious, irreversible, or incapacitating illnesses in exposed individuals;
- pose a threat to the environment when improperly treated, stored, transported, or disposed of.
There are numerous active, closed, and formerly used military installations across the country that are listed as Superfund sites
Each Superfund site varies in the type and the level of contaminants found, so potential health effects could vary depending on the base when you were stationed there, and the length of time spent on the base.
The U.S. EPA’s Superfund website provides a search feature to find Superfund sites near you if you are a veteran exposed to dangerous or toxic chemicals while serving in the military.
Diseases and health issues related to exposure to hazardous chemicals present at military bases
Exposure to toxic chemicals can produce immediate effects that include headaches, rashes, allergies, nausea, dizziness, neurological problems, difficulty swallowing and breathing, and concentration and memory problems. Generally, these effects develop gradually, resulting in serious health complications over time. If you developed any type of cancer while you were stationed on one of these contaminated military bases/installations for 1 year or longer you will qualify to receive a claim.
Types of qualifying cancers include but are not limited to
Other health conditions that make you eligible for filing a claim
Suffering from a disabling condition does not automatically qualify a former service member to receive certain VA disability benefits. In order to establish a service connection on a direct basis, veterans must show evidence of deployment to a place that had documented chemical issues or showing permanent or temporary duty at a military facility that has been placed on the Environmental Protection Agency’s Superfund Site list.
If you have one of the conditions listed above and believe that a preexisting condition was aggravated by exposure to these chemicals, or suspect that you have a secondary condition caused by the contamination, please contact us today for a no-cost case review.
Toxic exposure presumptive conditions
The United States Department of Veterans Affairs provides benefits to veterans who were exposed to toxic substances while serving on active duty. In some instances, the VA presumes that certain conditions began in service or were connected with exposure to toxic agents while on active duty service. These conditions are codified by the VA regulation and allow for what is called “presumptive service connection.”
The VA Presumptive List basically states that if veterans who served in X location/circumstances during certain years developed Y or Z conditions, then those conditions will be automatically considered service-connected.
Examples of diseases subject to presumptive service connection include veterans who were stationed at Camp Lejeune between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987, for a minimum of 30 days. The eight presumptive conditions for disability compensation for Camp Lejeune veterans are:
The VA has decided that service-connected compensation should be awarded for a number of diseases that appear after service for all veterans that meet certain conditions of service, even if there is no record of an event or disability in their particular military service records.
The rate of misdiagnosis is very high among the victims of toxic exposure
According to estimates from the World Health Organization and the International Agency for Research on Cancer, exposure to both manufactured chemicals and natural toxins is responsible for between 7% and 19% of human cancers.
If your doctor suspects you might have a malignant disease, he or she will ask you about any symptoms you are having, such as unexplained weight loss, fatigue, pain, numbness, or weakness, and how long you have had them. You might also be asked about possible risk factors, including exposure to hazardous chemicals.
In order to give your claim the best chance at success, there are certain requirements that must be met, including being able to prove that exposure to toxic chemicals or other hazardous materials during military service has caused your disease or condition to develop. Anyone with a history of chemical exposure during military service should take special note of the symptoms and immediately seek medical attention. An accurate and early diagnosis can increase the chances for successful treatment but also gives you the right to be entitled to compensation.
We work tirelessly to ensure victims of toxic exposure on military bases are compensated fairly
At Environmental Litigation Group, P.C., we can help you move forward in the process to recover compensation in your toxic chemical exposure claim. Some of the recoverable damages you may be entitled to include medical expenses, lost income and wages, pain and suffering, and loss of life.
Environmental Litigation Group has the benefit of a wealth of knowledge and experience with all types of environmental toxic tort cases. Our legal experts can review your medical and service records and determine if the military installations you were assigned to have been impacted by toxic contamination during your enrollment period, and if any conditions you are diagnosed with are related. Family members of personnel stationed at one of these contaminated military bases can also have opportunities for benefits and treatments.
In order for any VA disability claim to be successful, veterans who were exposed to toxic substances while serving on active duty must provide evidence of:
- a diagnosed medical condition by a healthcare provider
- supporting evidence of in-service toxic exposure that could have caused that condition
To make a successful claim, you’ll also need documents that must show a period of active-duty service. Our law firm works on a contingency fee basis, which means that you will not have to pay anything unless we recover compensation for you.
Too often, the VA gives disability ratings that fall short or denies a claim completely. If you are interested in avoiding unnecessary delays in your claim and want to do everything you can to maximize your chances of success, it is a good idea for you to consult with an experienced legal team. Our team of experts can help you gather the documents you need to appeal for a higher disability rating and receive compensation that’s fair.