By Dan Shapley
Marines and their families -- as many as 75,000 of them -- were exposed to a toxic chemical present in drinking water at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina for about 30 years. The Marines and their families, while serving their country, were put at risk for birth defects and childhood cancers such as spina bifida, anencephaly, cleft lip, cleft palate, leukemia and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Among contaminants, tetrachloroethylene -- also known as PERC or PCE -- is a well known criminal. After decades of use as a dry cleaning and industrial solvent, it remains one of the most common chemicals found at hazardous waste sites. It is colorless and odorless at levels that put people at risk, and can be absorbed into the body by drinking tainted water or breathing fumes wafting up from the ground. At least 1.1 million people live within a mile
of a site contaminated with the chemical. For more on that story, click here
. In that respect, the sense of fear and tragedy that many who inhabited Camp Lejeune is a feeling that people across the country can relate to. Because the pollution represented a silent sneak attack to military families who pledged to offer their lives in service to their country, that tragedy is sadly compounded, according to a story in the June 13 Atlanta Journal-Constitution.