Exposure to the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune has been linked to many illnesses, including bladder cancer. Cervical cancer is a condition where the tissues of the cervix, or lower portion of the uterus, become infected with human papillomavirus. This condition can cause severe pain and bleeding during or after sexual intercourse. Although there is no cure for this disease, it can be treated through a bone marrow transplant.
In the 1980s, military chemists began testing the drinking water at Camp Lejeune, which had dozens of water wells. The tests detected trace amounts of organic compounds. However, the military did not investigate the cause of the contamination. It continued to rely on the “hazard evaluation” model, which focused on the strength of evidence that a chemical can cause a specific health complication. It also did not consider the estimated level of contamination and the duration of exposure. There was no comprehensive data on the level of contamination and exposure, and the NRC committee in 2009 was unaware of the historical information on the water use patterns of individual houses at the base.
The toxic water at Camp Lejeune is known to contain chemicals called Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). These chemicals are human-made chemicals that are used in industrial processes. They can be found in paints, fuels, pharmaceuticals, and other products. In addition to their adverse effects on the environment, VOCs can cause health problems.