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Health Concerns at Camp Lejeune

ATSDR is concerned about the health effects of exposures to chemicals found in the drinking water at Camp Lejeune. Before 1986, drinking water from the Tarawa Terrace and Hadnot Point treatment plants were contaminated with volatile organic compounds (VOCs). The main VOC found at Tarawa Terrace was perchloroethylene (PCE). The maximum level of PCE found in the Tarawa Terrace drinking water system was 215 μg/L, which was 43 times higher than the current U.S. maximum contaminant level (MCL) allowed in drinking water of 5 μg/L. The VOCs found at Hadnot Point were trichloroethylene (TCE), vinyl chloride, benzene, and trans-1,2-dichloroethylene (DCE). The maximum level of TCE found in the Hadnot Point drinking water system was 1,400 which was 280 times higher than the current U.S. maximum contaminant level (MCL) allowed in drinking water of 5 μg/L.

TCE, vinyl chloride, and benzene are classified as human carcinogens, while PCE is classified as a “likely” or “probable” human carcinogen (1-6). The carcinogenicity of DCE cannot be classified because of a lack of studies.

The scientifically reported health effects linked with TCE, PCE, benzene, and vinyl chloride exposure can be viewed at http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/sites/lejeune/tce_pce.html.

Because of health concerns from past exposures to the toxic drinking water contaminants at the base, ATSDR is conducting health studies to evaluate specific birth defects (neural tube defects, cleft lip, cleft palate), childhood cancers (leukemia and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma), and adult cancers and other chronic diseases. Information on these studies can be viewed at http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/sites/lejeune/activities.html .

ATSDR has completed the modeling of the Tarawa Terrace water system and estimated monthly average PCE levels in the drinking water can be viewed at http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/sites/lejeune/docs/AppI5.pdf . Estimated monthly average levels of the contaminants in the Hadnot Point water system will be available by 2012.

Information about which housing areas received contaminated drinking water can be viewed at http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/sites/lejeune/watermodeling_summary.html.


References

  1. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Toxicological Review of trichloroethylene. 2011. https://cfpub.epa.gov/ncea/iris/iris_documents/documents/toxreviews/0199tr/0199tr.pdf
  2. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Toxicological review of tetrachloroethylene (perchloroethylene). 2012. https://cfpub.epa.gov/ncea/iris/iris_documents/documents/toxreviews/0106tr.pdf
  3. IARC Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans, Vol 97: 1,3-Butadiene, Ethylene Oxide and Vinyl Halides (Vinyl Fluoride, Vinyl Chloride and Vinyl Bromide). Lyon, France 2008.
  4. IARC Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans, Vol 100F. Chemical Agents and Related Occupations. A Review of Human Carcinogens. Lyon, France 2012.
  5. IARC Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans, Vol 106. Trichloroethylene, Tetrachloroethylene, and Some Other Chlorinated Agents. Lyon, France 2014.
  6. National Toxicology Program (NTP). Report on carcinogens. 14th edition. Research Triangle Park, NC: US Department of Health and Human Services; 2016.
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