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The Many Symptoms of Water Contamination

Author
Alicia Betz
November 3, 2023

When you turn on the tap to take a drink of water in your home, you typically do so without worrying about the safety of your water. You simply expect the water to be potable. This is because the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates drinking water, making sure any contaminants remain at acceptable levels. 

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If you believe your medical condition was caused by Camp Lejeune water contamination, you may be entitled to compensation.

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Unfortunately, even with regulations in place, drinking water sometimes becomes contaminated. A well-known example of water contamination occurred in Flint, Michigan from April 2014 to June 2016. Another occurrence of mass water contamination happened at Camp Lejeune Marine Corps Base in Jacksonville, North Carolina from 1953 to 1987. In both cases, many people became sick and even died as a result of contaminated water. 

With water being so vital to our existence, any contamination can be devastating. By knowing the symptoms of water contamination, you can protect yourself and your family when you act quickly after suspecting contamination. 

What Causes Water Contamination?  

Due to various reasons, a large number of contaminants can enter the water supply, tainting the water you and your family drink and bathe in. This contamination can happen in both public water and private well water. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), “sometimes unsafe levels of harmful germs and chemicals contaminate public drinking water. The germs and chemicals can get in the water at its source (for example, ground water or water from lakes or rivers) or while water is traveling through the distribution system, after the water treatment plant has already removed germs and chemicals from source water.” Examples of water contaminants can include pesticides, E. coli, salmonella, arsenic, radon, and lead. 

"By knowing the symptoms of water contamination, you can protect yourself and your family when you act quickly after suspecting contamination."

To avoid water contamination, the EPA recommends testing your water at least once per year if you have a private water source, such as a well. Public water sources are routinely tested, but it doesn’t hurt to conduct your own tests on public water annually as well. You may catch contaminants that entered your water supply after it has been treated. It’s a good idea to test your water more often if someone in your family is immunocompromised or if you suspect contamination. 

Signs You Drank Contaminated Water

Because water can be contaminated with various chemicals and germs, symptoms of contamination can vary widely. The people most likely to show symptoms of water contamination include infants, young children, pregnant people, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems. 

Symptoms of water contamination are vast and can include: 

  • Abnormal heart rhythm
  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Body aches
  • Cough
  • Dark urine
  • Decreased blood pressure
  • Decreased red and white blood cell production
  • Dehydration
  • Fever
  • Gas
  • Greasy stool
  • Headaches
  • Increased heart rate
  • Joint pain
  • Lethargy
  • Light stool 
  • Loss of appetite
  • Mouth blisters
  • Muscle aches
  • Nausea
  • “Pins and needles” in hands and feet
  • Rash
  • Runny nose
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sneezing
  • Stomach cramps
  • Upset stomach
  • Vomiting
  • Watery diarrhea
  • Yellow skin or eyes

According to the EPA, “Factors that can influence whether a contaminant will lead to health effects include the type of contaminant, its concentration in the water, individual susceptibility, the amount of water consumed, and the duration of exposure.” Water contamination symptoms may vary in severity from one person to the next. 

Of course, this is a long list of symptoms, many of which can have causes other than water contamination. Because symptoms can vary from one person to the next and because the symptoms can have other causes, water contamination can sometimes be difficult to detect. 

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms and are not sure what caused them, consider water contamination as a possible source. Your healthcare provider may be able to help you determine the cause, and you should have your water tested as well. 

Long-term Effects of Water Contamination 

In addition to the short-term effects of water contamination, which often include gastrointestinal problems, long-term effects can occur as well. For example, radon contamination in water can cause lung cancer, which could take years or even decades to develop. 

In the case of the water contamination at Camp Lejeune, many long-term side effects have been reported. These may include: 

  • Adult leukemia
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease)
  • Aplastic anemia
  • Birth defects
  • Bladder cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Cervical cancer
  • Esophageal cancer
  • Hodgkin lymphoma
  • Kidney cancer
  • Leukemia
  • Liver cancer
  • Liver disease
  • Lung cancer
  • Miscarriages
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Neurobehavioral effects
  • non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Prostate cancer
  • Renal toxicity
  • Stomach cancer 

Many people who drank contaminated water on base in the 1950s are still suffering from the effects today.

"If you drank water that was contaminated at Camp Lejeune Marine Corps Base from 1953 to 1987, you may be entitled to compensation."

Determining whether major health conditions are a result of water contamination can be difficult, particularly if you are unsure if water you drank 20 years ago was contaminated or not. However, if you suffer from any of these conditions and you know you drank contaminated water, it’s important to consider the contamination as a potential cause. 

What To Do if You Drank Contaminated Water 

Before you do anything else, discontinue drinking the contaminated water, even if you only suspect it is contaminated. Until you are certain the water is safe to drink, you should stop drinking it.

Please see your healthcare provider if you have symptoms of water contamination. He or she will be able to help you treat and manage both short and long-term symptoms.

If you drank water that was contaminated at Camp Lejeune Marine Corps Base from 1953 to 1987, you may be entitled to compensation. Camp Lejeune lawyers are asking people who have been affected by the contaminated water to reach out and seek compensation for their injuries. To find out if you are entitled to compensation, get started with a free case evaluation today.

At Select Justice, our team partners with experienced, compassionate attorneys to get you the best outcome for your case. Our partners work on a contingency system that means if you don’t win, you don’t pay. Contact Select Justice today for a free, no-obligation case evaluation and begin your journey to justice.

Free Case Evaluation

If you believe your medical condition was caused by Camp Lejeune water contamination, you may be entitled to compensation.

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