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Marine with Ulcerative Colitis Files Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Lawsuit

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A former U.S. Marine diagnosed with ulcerative colitis has filed a Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Lawsuit against companies that made, sold and distributed aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) firefighting products.

Camp Lejeune, NCA former marine stationed at Camp Lejeune was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, which he claims was directly caused by PFAS contamination in the water he drank and bathed in from 1985 to 1987.

Joseph Harper’s AFFF complaint (PDF) was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina on July 6, which joins over 2,400 similar AFFF lawsuits currently pending against 3M Company, Buckeye Fire Equipment, Co. Dupont De Nemours, Inc. and other companies. The lawsuits all claim that that the companies knew or should have known AFFF firefighting products would pose serious health risks for firefighters, military personnel and others, including civilians at Camp LeJeune, exposed to PFAS chemicals in drinking water.

If not for the internet, the marine wouldn’t know that PFAS was a cause of the harm until 2020. The defendants certainly didn’t share their knowledge with Harper or the public, or the government, which they allegedly knew about since at least the 1970s. According to Harper’s lawsuit, the defendants also knew that ulcerative colitis is a disease linked to PFAS contamination, and that:

In the 1970s:
  •  Further testing by 3M and Dupont…provided the information that PFOA and PFOS had in fact been found to have accumulated in the blood of humans, specifically their employees.
  • Defendants also learned that the toxic compounds affected a wide portion of the population in general (who had been exposed via use and/or soil or water contamination), including the fact that each exposure accumulated in the human body.
  • Defendants failed to disclose this knowledge and did not notify or warn their clients, the public at large nor even the appropriate government agencies, but instead continued sales to unsuspecting users.
In the 1980s:
  • Research by Defendants continued (including 3M and Dupont) and provided data that exposure to the subject matter toxic chemicals, specifically PFOA, resulted in increased incidence of substantial risk of birth defects, cancers, and adverse liver enzyme impact in humans.
  • Defendants continued in their failure and/or refusal to disclose such findings/indicia.
In the late 1990s:
  • Defendants did not report their findings to any public agency, did not publish any relevant data, and did not notify or warn any clients or the public.
  • Defendants knew that PFC’s (PFOA and PFOS) were an extreme biohazard, specifically including their inability to break/degrade in soil or water which permitted the chemicals to remain for years, if not decades, their abilities to travel through air, water and soil once introduced into the environment, their ability to be absorbed into the human body in multiple manners (consumption, inhalation, dermal), and their ability to build up in the human body with each exposure.
  • Defendants also learned that the toxicity of the chemicals was extreme/ultra-hazardous even when used for their intended purposes (including firefighting) and that the chemicals were found to be accumulating in the bloodstream, liver and kidneys of humans and animals in the human food chain. Further, that the chemicals were being associated with numerous diseases such as cancer (testicular, pancreatic and liver), high cholesterol levels, thyroid changes, autoimmune issues, and pre-eclampsia.
  • It was understood by Defendants that the manifestations of disease could occur many years after original exposure to the chemicals. Moreover, Defendants knew that the chemicals design permitted their toxicity to remain a bioaccumulation threat with severe physical adverse effects as above for years, if not decades, in each place where the chemicals were used as intended, i.e.: a known significant potential latency period.
In 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a formal health advisory finding that PFOA and PFOS (two types of PFAS) constituted a health hazard if found in drinking water at levels over 70 parts per trillion (ppt). In his lawsuit, Harper states that PFAS levels in the Camp Lejeune drinking water were much higher than that.

Meanwhile, is hundreds of military sites are being tested nationwide by the Department of Defense for contamination with PFAS.

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