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Defense Health Care: Issues Related to Past Drinking Water Contamination at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune

GAO-07-933T Published: Jun 12, 2007. Publicly Released: Jun 12, 2007.
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In the early 1980s, volatile organic compounds (VOC) were discovered in some of the water systems serving housing areas on Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune. Exposure to certain VOCs may cause adverse health effects, including cancer. Since 1991, the Department of Health and Human Services' Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) has been examining whether individuals who were exposed to the contaminated drinking water are likely to have adverse health effects. ATSDR's current study is examining whether individuals who were exposed in utero are more likely to have developed certain childhood cancers or birth defects. GAO was asked to testify on its May 11, 2007 report: Defense Health Care: Activities Related to Past Drinking Water Contamination at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune (GAO-07-276). This testimony summarizes findings from the report about (1) efforts to identify and address the past drinking water contamination, (2) the provision of funding and information from the Department of Defense (DOD) to ATSDR, and (3) an assessment of the design of the current ATSDR study. GAO reviewed documents, interviewed officials and former residents, and contracted with the National Academy of Sciences to convene an expert panel to assess the current ATSDR study.

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Birth defectsCancerCancer researchChemical agentsChemical exposureChemicalsContaminantsContaminationEnvironmental monitoringHealth hazardsInvestigations by federal agenciesNaval basesPotable waterPublic healthVolatile organic compoundsWater pollutionWater pollution control