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General (FAQs)


1. How are ATSDR’s studies going to help people who have already been diagnosed with a health problem?


Only a few studies have examined the link between birth defects, cancers, and non-cancer diseases and exposures to volatile organic compounds in drinking water. These studies will evaluate the possibility of a link between the drinking water contaminants found at Camp Lejeune and specific health problems.

People who were potentially harmed by the contaminated drinking water at Camp Lejeune will receive no direct benefit from the survey.  However, information gained during the survey will help advance research on this topic.  It could also help people in the future by improving drinking water standards and the quality of our drinking water.

2. Can I have any tests done to see if my family might have been affected by these contaminants?


Volatile organic compounds leave the body within a week after the last exposure, which at Camp Lejeune was many years ago. Therefore, testing will not determine whether you were exposed to these chemicals at Camp Lejeune.

There are no specific medical tests that are recommended for these exposures. Instead, we recommend that you monitor your health by having regular medical check ups. We encourage you to discuss this information with your physician, who can advise you on your personal health questions.

3. I'm sick or my family is sick. Are these contaminants to blame?


Exposure to the drinking water contaminants trichloroethylene (TCE), perchloroethylene (PCE), vinyl chloride, benzene and other volatile organic compounds found at Camp Lejeune have been linked with some types of cancer, birth defects, and other health problems. Still, even if you were exposed, ATSDR cannot confirm that these health problems are a result of that exposure. Many persons exposed to these contaminants do not suffer any health problems, but others do. Whether someone will or will not develop health problems depends on several factors, including

  • the chemicals to which you were exposed,
  • the dates you were exposed (the levels varied over time in the drinking water system),
  • when you were exposed (e.g., as a fetus, a child, or an adult),
  • how much exposure you received (if you were exposed as a fetus, this would depend on your mother's exposure),
  • how long you were exposed,
  • your genes,
  • any other exposures to environmental or occupational hazards you have received during your lifetime,
  • your lifestyle-for example, your diet, your tobacco or alcohol use, and your physical activity,
  • illnesses you may have had from other causes, and
  • medications you have taken during your lifetime.

ATSDR’s website http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/sites/lejeune/tce_pce.html has more information on the health outcomes linked with TCE, PCE, vinyl chloride and benzene exposure, both in workers and those who drank contaminated water.

We encourage you to contact your family physician regarding any concerns you may have regarding your health or your family's health.

4. What about the effects on future generations?  


It is uncertain whether future generations would be affected by these exposures.  No human studies have been done to answer this question.  The evidence from animal studies suggests that future generations would not be affected by these exposures.

5. What are the results of the 1998 ATSDR study on volatile organic compounds in drinking water and adverse pregnancy outcomes at Camp Lejeune?


ATSDR’s study on adverse pregnancy outcomes included children born from 1968 through 1985 to mothers who gave birth at Camp Lejeune.  This study was done to determine if there was a link between mothers who were exposed to contaminated drinking water at Camp Lejeune and infants who were small for gestational age (SGA). The study also looked at preterm birth and lower birth weight babies. The study showed that exposure to VOC-contaminated drinking water was linked with higher risk for SGA among male infants. Exposure to VOC-contaminated drinking water was also linked with SGA and lower birth weight among infants born to subgroups of the mothers.

However, because of errors in the exposure information available at that time, ATSDR will reanalyze this study when the water modeling is completed. 

6. I am a Marine Corps/Navy retiree. How can I get copies of my medical records?


You can get your medical records by contacting the National Personnel Records Center. The National Personnel Records Center, Military Personnel Records (NPRC-MPR) is the repository for personnel, health, and medical records of discharged and deceased veterans of all services while they were in the military. NPRC-MPR also stores medical treatment records of retirees from all services, as well as records for dependent and other persons treated at naval medical facilities. To the extent allowed by law, information from the records is made available upon written request (with dated signature). Requests must contain sufficient information to locate the record. This information includes

  • Complete name as it appears on the service records
  • Service number or social security number
  • Branch of service, and
  • Dates of service.

Date and place of birth may also be helpful, particularly if the service number is unknown.

If the request pertains to a record that may have been involved in the 1973 Records Center fire, also include place of discharge, last unit of assignment, and place of entry into the service, if known. Send the written request to the following address:

National Personnel Records Center
Military Personnel Records
9700 Page Avenue
St. Louis, MO 63132-5100

The NPRC-MPR Web site has additional information. Its address is www.archives.gov/facilities/mo/st_louis/military_personnel_records.html

7. What is the relationship between ATSDR and the Marine Corps? They’re both part of the federal government, so isn't ATSDR’s investigation of the Marine Corps a conflict of interest?


ATSDR is an independent agency under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is a federal public health agency that assesses potential human health effects of hazardous substances found at or near toxic waste sites. Because of a concern about conflict of interest, Congress made ATSDR a separate agency responsible for health consultations, assessments, and studies at toxic waste sites. This includes toxic substances found on property owned by other parts of the government, in this case the Marine Corps. Although the Marine Corps cooperates with ATSDR’s requests for information, ATSDR’s activities—including its conclusions and recommendations regarding the Camp Lejeune water contamination problem—remain independent.

8. Why wasn’t I notified about the drinking water contamination at Camp Lejeune?


For questions about notification, contact the Marine Corps. The Call Center staff can be reached at 1-877-261-9782, Monday through Friday, between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m., or by email at clwater@usmc.mil.

Former residents and employees of Camp Lejeune can now register at the official Marine Corps water study website for notification and information regarding past drinking water contamination. The address is https://clnr.hqi.usmc.mil/

9. How can I register to receive information about Camp Lejeune?


Former residents and employees of Camp Lejeune can register at the official Marine Corps water study website for notification and information regarding past drinking water contamination. The address is https://clnr.hqi.usmc.mil/. You can also contact the Marine Corps Call Center staff at 1-877-261-9782, Monday through Friday, between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m.

10. What are the latest findings about the health effects at Camp Lejeune?


There are no new findings about the health effects at the base.  Once the study on birth defects and childhood cancers is completed, ATSDR will report its findings about whether the drinking water exposures are associated with increased risk of neural tube defects, oral clefts, or childhood cancers.  ATSDR will also re-analyze the 1998 study of adverse birth outcomes (i.e., "small for gestational age" or low weight for the child's gestational week at birth) when the water modeling results become available.

The National Academy of Sciences, National Research Council (NRC) published a report in 2007 that updated what is known about the health effects of trichloroethylene (TCE) exposure.  Most of this information comes from occupational studies of workplace exposures.

In February 2010, an NRC panel published a report reviewing the information available on the health effects of tetrachloroethylene (also known as perchloroethylene or “PCE”). 

11. What is the Community Assistance Panel (CAP)?


The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) created a Community Assistance Panel (CAP) for the Camp Lejeune site.

The purpose of the CAP is to:

  • voice the concerns of the affected community of marines and their families; and
  • provide input to ATSDR for future health studies.

The community members on the CAP provide individual input and represent the views of the groups and communities they belong to.

One independent expert, a professor from Boston University, serves as a resource for the CAP. There is also a representative from the Department of Defense.

CAP meetings are broadcast live on streaming video on the ATSDR Camp Lejeune website http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/sites/lejeune/index.html. Transcripts of the meetings are provided on the ATSDR Camp Lejeune website after meetings are held.

12. Can the public attend the ATSDR community assistance panel (CAP) meetings on Camp Lejeune?


All Community Assistance Panel (CAP) meetings are open to the public. Interested persons may register to attend upcoming meetings and may sit in the audience.

Information about the CAP and dates of upcoming meetings are posted on the ATSDR Camp Lejeune website http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/sites/lejeune/. Information about the CAP and their meetings can be found under the "Calendar of Events" link.

13. How can I file a claim? / How can I get compensation?


The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) is a health research agency. ATSDR’s mission is to provide health information and to prevent harmful exposures and diseases related to toxic substances. ATSDR cannot provide advice about claims or compensation.

For questions about claims or compensation, you need to contact the Navy JAG at 202-685-4600. 

If you need additional advice to help you file a claim, you may wish to consult a private attorney.

 
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