About 300,000 people who lived and worked in North Carolina’s Camp Lejeune are being asked to fill out a detailed survey to determine what diseases may be linked to the base’s contaminated water supply. As many as 1 million people may have been exposed to toxins in well water that sometimes registered 40 times higher than safety standards, The Washington Post
The Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry also is surveying more than 50,000 people who lived and worked at Camp Pendleton in California before 1986 for comparison purposes. Officials hope the surveys will provide answers to long-standing questions about the health effects of exposure to such chemicals as benzene, a known carcinogen, and tricholorethylene and tetracholorethylene, possible carcinogens, the Post reported.
Registry Director Christopher Portier said, “If we get a good response, we have the potential to see what is happening in populations in ways that we have been unable to do so before.”
The survey will include Marines and sailors stationed at Camp Lejeune between June 1975 and December 1985, and civilian employees who worked at the base between December 1972 and December 1985, the Post reported.
The 26-page survey asks about cancer, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, miscarriages, and other ailments thought to be related to exposure to contaminated well water. The various chemicals were dumped into storm drains and leaked from tanks, making their way into the groundwater. The problem was identified in 1982, and the wells were shut in 1984.
The first wave of surveys was mailed last week, with another round due in July. They will continue through the fall and are due back in December. The agency hopes to release its findings in 2014, according to the Post.
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