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Camp Lejeune veterans have a 70% higher risk of developing Parkinson's disease

As a neurological disorder whose symptoms include difficulty with balance and coordination, tremors, muscle stiffness, and slowed movement, Parkinson's disease is just one of the dozens of health issues Camp Lejeune veterans can develop as a result of drinking toxic water at the military base during the last century.

However, their risk of coming to struggle with this disease is higher than expected, according to a new study from JAMA Neurology.

The researchers found a strong association between exposure to trichloroethylene, one of the harmful chemicals present in the drinking water at Camp Lejeune, and Parkinson's disease in veterans. Specifically, Marines who spent time at this military base are 70% more likely to develop the disorder than veterans stationed at other military bases, as they were inevitably exposed to trichloroethylene during active duty.

Trichloroethylene exposure increases the risk of developing Parkinson's disease

Trichloroethylene is a colorless volatile organic compound that was used in the military as a cleaning agent and degreaser, mostly for the metal parts of weapons and equipment. It is also used in the manufacturing of refrigerants and can be found in paints, coatings, sealants, and some automobile products such as brake cleaners. The solvent was synthesized in 1864, but it was not until the 1920s that it became one of the most widely used solvents. It started falling out of fashion in the 1960s after the medical community began suspecting that exposure was dangerous to human health. Nevertheless, it is still used in some industrial applications today.

The trichloroethylene level at the Hadnot Point water plant was 280 times over the safe exposure limit, which means service members who spent time at Camp Lejeune unwittingly drank tremendous concentrations of this chemical. Trichloroethylene exposure can cause damage to the nervous system and brain, which can, in turn, lead to Parkinson's disease. It can damage a part of the brain known as the substantia nigra, which is responsible for the production of dopamine. This neurochemical affects many systems of the central nervous system, including movement control, cognitive executive functions, and emotional limbic activity. Some of the most common symptoms of Parkinson's disease Camp Lejeune veterans should be aware of are the following:

  • rhythmic shaking, known as tremors
  • slowed movement
  • loss of automatic movements
  • difficulty with balance and coordination
  • speech changes
  • muscle stiffness
  • difficulty swallowing and chewing
  • urinary problems

A higher risk of Parkinson's disease for Camp Lejeune veterans

The researchers examined the health records of 340,000 servicemembers who were stationed at Camp Lejeune between 1975 and 1985, a time in which the drinking water at the military base was known to be contaminated with trichloroethylene and other volatile organic compounds. According to the new study, tests have shown that the solvent concentration in the water during the studied time period was 70 times over the maximum permissible limit. To assess the risk of Parkinson's disease, the researchers compared Camp Lejeune veterans' records to data from Camp Pendleton. Subsequently, they followed up with the same group of veterans, looking at their health records from 1997 until 2021 to see who developed Parkinson's disease. The study found the risk of Parkinson's disease to be 70% higher in veterans who lived at Camp Lejeune than in those stationed at Camp Pendleton.

If you spent time at Camp Lejeune, either as a veteran or a family member of one, and came to struggle with Parkinson's disease, we encourage you to contact our team of professionals, as you might be eligible to file a claim and obtain financial compensation for your suffering. Atraxia Law will carefully and thoroughly assess your case to determine your eligibility. The process is very simple and will mostly take place over the phone, as we understand how challenging having Parkinson's disease can be.

File your Camp Lejeune Parkinson's disease claim with our expert assistance

With over 35 years of experience in evaluating toxic exposure cases, Atraxia Law can help you file a Camp Lejeune water contamination claim if you developed Parkinson's disease. The only documents we will request to review your case are your military records or proof of your stay at the military base and your medical records. If we determine that you are entitled to compensation, we will promptly direct you to a reliable attorney.