The water at Camp Lejeune, a Marine base that began operating in 1941, isn’t just bad – it’s unprecedented, according to a new federal report.
The study, conducted by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, created a historical model to estimate the levels of carcinogens in the drinking water from 1953 to 1985. To accomplish this, the scientists examined data from tens of thousands of federal and state documents during the period when the water wasn’t tested.
The results of the study, which are considered highly reliable, are staggering. Certain carcinogenic substances are believed to have reached levels 33 to 153 times higher than what federal regulators consider safe. These toxic chemicals came from several potential sources, including industrial solvents used at the base.
While it has been known for years that the water at Camp Lejeune was contaminated, the release of this report renews serious health concerns for the more than 1 million people that lived and worked on the base from 1953 to 1985.
Richard Clapp, an epidemiologist who peer-reviewed the study, said that the findings are dramatic and that Camp Lejeune is the most highly contaminated drinking water in the U.S. that he is aware of. Residents of the base have reported a wide range of types of cancers, including more than 80 instances of men diagnosed with a rare form of breast cancer.
The Marine Corps has not yet commented on the results of this study. Former residents are hopeful that the government will conduct a cancer incidence study to determine if the contaminated water has caused abnormally high cancer rates. Unfortunately, without legislation, a study is unlikely to occur.
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