Veterans have risked their lives to protect our country, but their lives may have also been at risk due to questionable chemicals on and off base. Whether it be drinking water on-site or in veteran housing, our beloved veterans may be exposed to a range of toxic chemicals. These toxins include asbestos, radon, and PFAS, which have all been linked to serious health risks.
Hidden Toxin On-Base
In the past, military personnel were exposed to Agent Orange, but there is a newer, less evident chemical within bases today that also has extremely dangerous effects. Not only are soldiers facing danger during battle, they may also be exposed to danger in their drinking water. Testing by the Department of Defense (DOD) found extremely high levels of a cancer-causing chemical, known as PFAS, in the drinking water at military bases across the U.S.
PFAS chemicals, commonly referred to as Forever Chemicals, are usually found in household products like food packaging, non-stick products, polishes, and waxes, but are also used in firefighting foam. Since military bases are grounds for fire-fighting training, this toxic foam can slip into soldiers’ drinking water.
Dangers of PFAS
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) used animal studies to determine the levels of PFAS exposure that are toxic for humans. Long-term exposure to PFAS is highly toxic for humans, yet soldiers were never warned of the dangers in their drinking water. PFAS have been linked to:
- Liver cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Testicular cancer
- Pancreatic cancer
- Blood cancers
- Hypo or Hyperthyroidism
- Ulcerative colitis
- Liver problems
- Premature babies and low birth weight
PFAS are nicknamed ‘Forever Chemicals’ because it can take several years for these toxins to leave someone’s body. Research shows it can take four years for even half the chemical levels to decrease in the body, even if no more are consumed. If veterans believe that they have been exposed to these chemicals, it is best to consult a medical professional. There are blood tests that can determine whether there is a concerning amount of PFAS in the body.
The Department of Health suggests that if high levels of PFAS are found in water sources, people can reduce their risk for illnesses by drinking bottled water. However, bottled water may not always be an option for soldiers. If bottled water was not available on the base, veterans may have had no choice but to drink this contaminated water.
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Toxic Chemicals Off-Base
Even when soldiers return home, they may still be exposed to toxins in veteran housing centers. These facilities can be a helpful way for veterans to return to society, but many contain harmful chemicals such as radon, asbestos, lead-based paint, and mold. The DOD recently found that 38,000 military housing units in the U.S. lack proper precautions for radon and asbestos exposure.
Radon and asbestos can cause lung cancer in veterans, yet most of these facilities failed to monitor for these toxins that commonly seep into buildings. Veterans should be warned that their housing centers may contain life-threatening chemicals. These facilities should be a safe place for veterans to recover after their service, but many veterans may be unknowingly inhaling harmful carcinogens.
Unfortunately, military veterans were not told that they were drinking PFAS chemicals during their time of service. However, veterans have come forward about signs they saw near water sources on the base that read ‘Warning: Toxic Chemicals.’ They were not provided any more information than that. Veterans deserved detailed verbal and written warnings about the possibility of being exposed to these toxic chemicals.
Many veterans have started speaking out on the issue of PFAS-related illnesses. Veterans lived, worked, and trained on their military bases for extended periods of time. Cancer survivors that served in the military are working to publicize the dangers of PFAS so that military bases will appropriately measure levels of these chemicals in drinking water. If high levels are found, the base must put proper systems in place to protect soldiers from the contaminated water.
Pintas & Mullins Can Help
If you developed a serious illness after serving in the military, let our team of experienced toxic chemical lawyers assist you in filing a legal claim. You may be entitled to significant compensation for your injuries. Call us for a free legal consultation today. You don’t need any money to hire us, and we don’t get paid unless we secure a settlement or verdict on your behalf.