Marine Superfund Bases To Be Compared In Health Survey

The Agency for Toxic Substances Disease Registry (ATSDR) is planning on performing two health surveys, one from Camp Lejeune and one from Camp Pendleton, and then comparing the two. They are making the comparison to determine the health levels of those people serving on these bases between certain years.

Between June and December, ATSDR will be surveying people who either worked or lived at Camp Lejeune  prior to 1986. This group of people run the risk of being exposed to toxic drinking water as Lejeune’s wells were contaminated between 1957 and 1987 with toxic chemicals. The contamination could have affected between 500,000 and 1 million people.

Researchers will compare the health of those people with those of Camp Pendleton, an “external, unexposed comparison group.” This means it is demographically similar to Camp Lejeune save for being exposed to contaminated water.

Apparently, the survey is attempting to determine if there are higher rates of birth defects, cancer, and other health complications for those people exposed to the contaminated water than should naturally exist. Discovering higher rates will likely make it easier on veterans filing for disability based on their exposure while at Lejeune.

Why Lejeune is being directly compared to Pendleton raises certain questions. One of those questions is why not just make a cross country comparison as opposed to another military post?

Like Lejeune, Pendleton is a superfund site, meaning the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has determined there is hazardous waste on site. It doesn’t make sense for the direct comparison, as two superfund sites are likely to have higher levels of cancers and other health problems. The probable result is Lejeune’s cancer and health problem rates will not appear to be as high as they likely are.

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