A recent study in a prominent, peer-reviewed journal has concluded that hundreds of thousands of military veterans who were stationed at Camp Lejeune from 1975 to 1985 are 70% more likely to have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease than vets who were stationed elsewhere. 

The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association’s JAMA Neurology, examined medical records of over 170,000 service members stationed at the U.S. Marine Corps base in North Carolina at a time when the military installation was contaminated with trichloroethylene and other volatile organic compounds. Those toxic substances are the focus of approximately 100,000 claims, with 60,000 of those filed administratively with the U.S. Navy under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act (CLJA) of 2021-2022. 

The CLJA allows certain individuals to sue and recover damages for harm from exposure to contaminated water if they lived at Camp Lejeune between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987, and were exposed to contaminated water for at least 30 days. The legislation also prohibits the U.S. government from asserting immunity in response to a Camp Lejeune toxic water lawsuit. 

The JAMA Neurology study also concluded that veterans in the Camp Lejeune cohort who were not diagnosed with Parkinson’s were more likely to show early signs of the disease. 

An estimated one million people are believed to have been exposed to contaminated water during the quarter century the base’s drinking supply contained toxic chemicals, which have been linked to numerous other health problems, including birth defects. 

The study compared two cohorts of U.S. Marines and Navy personnel stationed for at least 3 months during the decade-long period at two bases: 172,128 at Camp Lejeune and 168,361 at Camp Pendleton outside of San Diego,  with a follow-up from January 1, 1997, until February 17, 2021. Veterans Health Administration (VA) and Medicare databases were searched for International Classification of Diseases diagnostic codes for Parkinson’s and other diagnoses that indicated diseases that could progress into Parkinson’s. The researchers noted that veterans stationed at Camp Lejeune were exposed to levels of trichloroethylene greater than 70 times the permissible amount. 

There were three primary sources of contamination at Camp Lejeune: chemicals from a dry-cleaning business located in close proximity to the base, underground water storage tanks, and chemical spills from nearby industries. The contamination wasn’t discovered until 1982. 

Recently, congressional members have demanded to know why the U.S. Navy has done little to resolve Camp Lejeune toxic water claims. As of early May, over 900 Camp Lejeune lawsuits had been filed in North Carolina federal court.

Camp Lejeune veterans or their family members can still check if they are eligible to file a claim here