Benzene (cyclohexatriene) is a VOC that was found in the Camp Lejeune water supply. Benzene is a naturally occurring chemical and can be manufactured by human activity. This VOC is colorless or appears as a light yellow liquid at room temperature. It smells sweet and is highly flammable. It is naturally found in crude oil, which is converted into gasoline and other products. Benzene dissolves only slightly in water and will float on top of water. Leaks from underground storage sites and dump sites can contaminate groundwater.
Residents, employees, veterans and family members at Camp Lejeune could have been exposed to benzene in contaminated water from the Hadnot Point Water Treatment Plant. Benzene leaked from underground storage tanks, waste disposal sites, and other sources into the water supply.
According to the CDC, benzene causes cells not to work correctly and can damage the immune system. Long term exposure of a year or more can harm bone marrow and cause excessive bleeding that can affect the immune system. Benzene can cause aplastic anemia and other forms of bone marrow damage. The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has determined that benzene causes cancer in humans. The CDC has found that women who have had high levels of exposure to benzene are prone to irregular menstrual cycles and reduced ovary sizes.
The EPA currently sets a maximum contaminant level for benzene in drinking water at 0.005 mg/L (5 ppb). ATSDR’s water modeling found that finished water concentrations of benzene at Hadnot Point Water Treatment Plant exceeded the maximum contaminant level from 1980-1985. The maximum reconstructed concentration of 0.012 mg/L of benzene at Hadnot Point happened in April 1984.
ATSDR has found that there is sufficient evidence for causation for leukemia and Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma to the benzene found in the Camp Lejeune water supply. ATSDR also has found that there is enough research to support a link between multiple myeloma and exposure to benzene found in the Camp Lejeune water supply but there is not enough research to definitively conclude that exposure causes those health effects. ATSDR is conducting more research on the link between benzene exposure at Camp Lejeune to adverse health effects.
The Nations Law Firm is proud to help fight for our Veterans who served at Marine Base Camp Lejeune and all those injured by its contaminated water supply. We will continue to monitor the studies of chemical exposure at Camp Lejeune. To read more about the different chemicals that contaminated the water on base and their connection to serious health problems, please visit our Camp Lejeune page or call our office at 800-800-1102.