A study from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) reveals a link between water contamination in Camp Lejeune military base in North Carolina and birth defects and cancer cases among children in the area born between 1965 and 1980.The contaminants included benzene, a component of gasoline, and industrial solvents such as trichloroethylene, or TCE.
The recent study validates the claims made by nearly 230,000 inhabitants of the area.
The findings of the study are based on a survey conducted on the parents of 12,598 children born in Lejeune between 1968 and 1985, the year when most of the tainted water sources in the area were closed down. The mothers who consumed the polluted water during that time conceived babies with serious birth defects and were also detected with cancers, reports tampabay.
The study says that babies born to mother who drank the defective water were four times more likely to be born with birth defects such as Spina Bifida. The total number of birth defects (39) and the cancer cases (13) found are not that high yet the researchers claim the study is significant as it will help in furthering research in other detrimental effects of the tainted water over the residents.
"The study is an important contribution to the scientific knowledge about the health effects of these chemicals," the ATSDR said in a statement. "The information from this study, together with other information about the health effects of these chemicals, will play an important role in policy and regulatory decisions concerning regulating these contaminants in drinking water."
The ATSDR report shows a total of 106 cases including the birth defects and cancer but the researchers have been able to substantially prove only 52 cases as of now, according to a recent post on Reuters.
The scientists claim that the infected water affected nearly a million people in the area. Incidents of cancer in the area have increased and 85 men were diagnosed with rare breast cancer, the researchers say.
The residents of Lejeune have long been demanding compensation for the health hazards suffered due to the contaminated water but lack of substantial evidences hampered their plea.
"The Marine Corps has been telling everyone for a long time that they were waiting for the science to speak. Well, the science has spoken," said Jerry Ensminger former Marine Corps drill instructor, in a statement. His 9-year-old daughter, Janey, suspected to be affected by the polluted water died of leukemia in 1985.