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Chemical In Camp Lejeune Water Linked to 500% Increased Risk of Parkinson’s Disease
A chemical commonly used for dry cleaning and degreasing metal, which heavily contaminated water at the Camp Lejeune Marine base in North Carolina, could increase the risk of Parkinson’s disease by a factor of five, according to the findings of a new study.
Researchers with the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York report that exposure to trichloroethylene (TCE), which has been in use for a century, could be helping to power increases in the rates of Parkinson’s disease diagnosed in recent decades. Their findings were published on March 14 in the Journal of Parkinson’s Disease.
TCE is a solvent used for metal degreasing, decaffeinating coffee, and dry cleaning, among other uses. It has been in commercial production since the 1920s. It is often found in cleaning wipes and other cleaning products, spray adhesives, carpet cleaners and spot removers.
Past studies have linked TCE exposure to an increased risk of congenital heart disease, miscarriage and cancer. The chemical has been found to contaminate up to a third of groundwater in the U.S., with particularly high concentrations at more than a dozen toxic Superfund sites, as well as the waters of the Camp Lejeune Marine training base, which is now the subject of a growing number of Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuits.
Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Lawsuit
In this new study, researchers conducted a review of existing scientific literature and a number of exposure cases, concluding that TCE is contributing to a global increase in Parkinson’s disease rates.
The researchers note that the number of people with Parkinson’s disease has more than doubled over the last three decades, and will likely double again by 2040. However, the researchers say this cannot be accounted for by genetic factors or other environmental contaminants, including pesticides.
According to their review, some studies suggest TCE is linked to a 500% increased risk of Parkinson’s disease, and warn that widespread contamination of drinking water should be a cause of concern.
“In 1987, nearly 56 million pounds of TCE were released into the air in the U.S. alone. TCE can also leak from storage tanks or be dumped into the ground where it contaminates up to one-third of the drinking water in the U.S.,” the researchers noted. “TCE has also polluted the groundwater in at least twenty different countries on five continents.”
Camp Lejeune Parkinson’s Disease Lawsuits
The researchers indicated TCE is found at half of the 1,300 most toxic Superfund sites in the U.S. and on military bases like Camp Lejeune, where it was frequently used in dry cleaning and is now known to have widely contaminated the drinking water on the base between the mid 1950s and late 1980s.
“The U.S. military has stopped using TCE, but numerous sites have been contaminated, including the Marine Corps base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina,” the researchers warned. “For 35 years, the base – which housed a million Marines, their families, and civilians – had levels of TCE—in the drinking water 280 times safety standards.”
As the researchers noted, estimates suggest more than a million Marines and their family members were exposed to contaminated Camp Lejeune water between the early 1950s and late 1980s, and some other reports have suggested that toxic chemicals in Camp Lejeune water may be responsible for more than 50,000 cases of breast cancer, 28,000 cases of bladder cancer, and 24,000 cases of renal cancer, as well as thousands of cases involve Parkinson’s disease and other health complications. It is also believed Camp Lejeune water caused birth defects and wrongful death for thousands of unborn children exposed in utero.
Although the U.S. government has known for decades that contaminants in the Camp Lejeune water supply may cause a number of different types of cancer, neurological disorders and other diseases, all claims previously presented by veterans and family members living on the base have been routinely denied under qualified immunity defenses and the North Carolina Statute of Repose, which was already expired for many claims by the time information about the water contamination was publicly disclosed.
On August 10, 2022, President Biden signed landmark new legislation, known as the Camp Lejeune Justice Act, which corrected the federal governments failure to compensate veterans and military family members, opening a two year window for Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuits to be filed to be filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina.
Research has specifically linked an increased risk of death to Parkinson’s disease among former Camp Lejeune employees, and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs specifically list Parkinson’s disease as a qualifying condition for Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuits.
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