Potential Chemicals Found in Camp Lejeune

Camp Lejeune is one of the Marine Corps’ biggest military bases. Established in 1941, Lejeune occupies a massive area along the North Carolina coast just north of Wilmington, NC. Camp Lejeune is essentially like a small town and over the years it had an on-base resident population of over 50,000.

Some examples of aliphatic solvents include gasoline, kerosene and hexane. Aromatic solvents. Widely used as degreasing agents as well as in the manufacture of paints, inks and agricultural chemicals, these solvents contain a benzene ring structure.

What is Hexane and Where Can it Be Found?

Hexane is a chemical commonly extracted from petroleum and crude oil. It is a colorless liquid that gives off a subtle, gasoline-like odor. Hexane is highly flammable, yet it can be found in many household products such as stain removers for arts and crafts projects. Because of its potential dangers, it is important to know how to handle and store this chemical properly and what to do in the unfortunate event of a fire or human exposure.

Health Hazards Associate with Hexane

Short-term exposure to air contaminated with hexane affects the nervous system and can cause dizziness, nausea, headaches, and even unconsciousness. Chronic exposure can cause more severe damage to the nervous system. If swallowed, it may cause severe abdominal pain and impact the respiratory system, resulting in shortness of breath, coughing, burning of the mouth, throat or chest, and even chemical pneumonitis. Personal protective equipment is recommended whenever handling hexane.

What is Benzene and Where Can it be Found?

Benzene is also a dangerous and poisonous chemical that is a natural part of crude oil, gasoline, and cigarette smoke. It also ranks within the top 20 among chemicals for production volume and is used in everyday items such as cleaning products or glue. Many industries use the chemical to make plastics, resins, nylon, and synthetic fibers. Benzine is also used for lubricants, rubbers, dyes, detergents, drugs, and pesticides.

People are exposed outdoors to benzene every day from gas stations, tobacco smoke, motor vehicle exhaust and industrial emissions. The indoor level of benzene, however, is generally higher due to products such as detergents, paints, glues, and furniture wax. Hazardous waste sites and gas stations typically have the highest levels of benzene compared to other areas and those who work in industries that make or use the chemical are at risk for being exposed to the highest levels of it.

How Does Benzene Affect the Body?

The way benzene affects the body is by causing cells not to work properly. For example, it may lead to bone marrow not being able to produce enough red blood cells, leading to anemia. It also has the potential to damage the immune system by altering blood levels of antibodies which causes the loss of white blood cells.

The severity of benzene poisoning is entirely dependent on the amount, route, length of time of exposure in addition to any preexisting medical conditions and age of the person exposed. Side effects of benzene exposure include drowsiness, dizziness, vomiting, rapid/irregular heartbeat, headaches, tremors, confusion, unconsciousness, and death at the highest levels.

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