Posted : Sunday Jun 14, 2009 13:03:31 EDT
RALEIGH, N.C. — Contaminated drinking water at a North Carolina Marine Corps base can’t definitively be linked to health problems among people who lived there over a three-decade span, according to a congressionally ordered report released Saturday by the National Research Council. The report, by the working arm of the National Academy of Sciences, says there is evidence people who lived and worked at Camp Lejeune in eastern North Carolina between the 1950s and 1985 were exposed to the industrial solvents tricholorethylene (TCE) or perchloroethylene (PCE) through tainted well water. But the 341-page report, which reviews past studies of the base’s water and health issues there, said there are severe scientific barriers to connecting contaminants to any birth defects, cancer and many other ailments suffered by people who lived and worked on base. It “cannot be determined reliably whether diseases and disorders experienced by former residents and workers at Camp Lejuene are associated with their exposure to contaminants in the water supply,” the report states. “Even with scientific advances, the complex nature of the Camp Lejeune contamination and the limited data on the concentrations in water supplies allow for only crude estimates of exposure,” David Savitz, chairman of the committee that wrote the report, said in a statement. The study does say the Marines and Navy shouldn’t wait for more scientific studies before deciding how to deal with health problems reported by former base residents. But it calls into question the value of further studies.