U.S. Water News Online
JACKSONVILLE, N.C. -- A federal agency says it will conduct
more studies to determine whether prenatal exposure to contaminated
water at Camp Lejeune housing complexes caused cancer and birth
A survey made over a four-year-period by the Agency for Toxic
Substances and Disease Registry looked at children born when their
parents lived in the Tarawa Terrace or Hadnot Point areas of Camp
Lejeune between 1968 and 1985.
Researchers believe they were exposed to water contaminated by
trichloroethylene and tetrachloroethylene, which may have entered
wells from a nearby dry cleaning store or motor pool.
The wells were capped in 1985, and current residents face no known
hazard from the sites.
No direct link was established by the study between the health
problems and the contamination, but enough questions were raised to
search for a connection, said Dr. Wendy Kaye, an agency
epidemiologist with the survey and the follow-up study.
The study is scheduled to be completed by 2006.
Of the 12,598 people who responded to the survey, researchers
found 33 possible cases of neural tube birth defects such as spina
bifida and anencephaly, 42 possible cases of oral clefts, 22 possible
cases of childhood leukemia and seven cases of childhood lymphoma.
So far, researchers have confirmed 36 cases of the 46 people for
whom they have obtained medical records. They are trying obtain the
Lt. Gen. Rick Kelly, deputy commandant of the Marine Corps for
installations and logistics, said the Corps would help the agency
conduct the study.
``You may be assured the (Marine Corps) will support this study,''
he said. ``I want you to know that the welfare of our extended Marine
Corps family is very important to the commandant and me.''
Researchers don't know how many of the Lejeune-based mothers drank
contaminated water and how many drank clean water. They also don't
know how many of the 103 reported cases of health problems they will
be able to confirm with medical records.
Kaye said so far researchers haven't found a comparable group to
the Lejeune children.
Jerry Ensminger, a retired Marine whose daughter, Jane, was
conceived on Camp Lejeune and died of childhood leukemia when she was
9, said he thinks the 22 cases of leukemia reported in the survey are
about 16 times higher than would be expected under normal
He said the figure was based on an average of cancer rates among
control groups in nine other studies looking at children born between
1975 and 1988.
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