Hampton Roads Veterans Toxic Exposure Similar To Camp Lejeune

In a concerning echo of North Carolina’s Camp Lejeune environmental debacle, Virginia’s Langley-Eustis base has emerged as another focal point for veteran and environmental activists due to its problematic history with toxic “forever chemicals”. This issue has cast a shadow over the health and wellbeing of thousands of veterans in the Hampton Roads area, complicating their lives with a legacy of chemical exposure that mirrors the infamous predicament at Camp Lejeune.

The Toxic Legacy of Military Installations

For decades, military installations across the United States, including Camp Lejeune and now Virginia’s Langley-Eustis, have been sites of significant chemical contamination. The inadvertent exposure of service members and their families to a variety of hazardous substances has raised grave health concerns. Among the contaminants, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), known for their persistence in the environment and resistance to natural degradation, stand out for their widespread use and subsequent health risks.

Camp Lejeune: A Precedent of Pollution

Between 1953 and 1987, Camp Lejeune housed nearly one million troops and their families, exposing them to carcinogens in their drinking water. This contamination led to the base being designated a Superfund site, acknowledging the severe environmental and health hazards present. Subsequent analyses have identified alarming levels of PFAS, underscoring the enduring nature of these pollutants.

PFAS: A Persistent Threat

PFAS chemicals, particularly PFOA and PFOS, have been linked to numerous health issues, including cancers, thyroid disorders, and lower birth weights. Used extensively for firefighting purposes in military contexts, these chemicals have left a toxic legacy at bases like Langley and Eustis in Virginia. Remarkably, PFAS concentrations at Langley have been measured at levels significantly higher than those at Eustis, highlighting the variable impact of these substances across different sites.

Veterans’ Health and Legislative Response

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has acknowledged the health impacts of Camp Lejeune’s contaminants by connecting eight diseases as presumptive conditions. However, illnesses resulting from PFAS exposure have not received the same recognition, leaving many veterans without the acknowledgment and support they need. Furthermore, the VA’s handling of disability claims related to Camp Lejeune’s toxins has been criticized for high rejection rates and bureaucratic inefficiencies.

The Honoring Our PACT Act, signed in August 2022, aims to address a broad spectrum of toxic exposure issues, offering hope for better access to benefits and compensation. Yet, its limitations, including the exclusion of PFAS-related conditions from the list of presumptive illnesses and the absence of a VA-managed PFAS registry, highlight the need for further legislative amendments.

The Path Forward

As veterans and their communities grapple with the health repercussions of toxic exposures, the call for expanded presumptive conditions to include PFAS-related illnesses and the establishment of a comprehensive PFAS registry grows louder. Concurrently, there is an urgent need for the Department of Defense to accelerate cleanup efforts for PFAS contamination, particularly at highly impacted bases like Langley-Eustis.

Source: https://virginiamercury.com/2023/05/05/virginias-langley-eustis-base-shares-toxic-pfas-legacy-similar-to-ncs-camp-lejeune/



A Solution to Contamination

Addressing the contamination issue from a practical standpoint, the implementation of reverse osmosis filtration systems and whole-home water conditioners presents a viable solution. These technologies can significantly reduce the presence of PFAS and other contaminants in water supplies, offering a safer environment for affected communities. By embracing these filtration methods, we can mitigate some of the health risks associated with toxic chemical exposure, providing a clearer path towards recovery and well-being for veterans and their families.