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  • Writer's pictureSuzanne Caruso

PACT ACT Falls Short on Presumptive Conditions

Updated: Feb 22

Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs)



The PACT Act of 2022 expands benefits for Veterans exposed to Burn Pits, Agent Orange, and other toxic substances. However, the legislation falls short in its list of presumptive conditions because it only considers 4 core contaminants including TCE, PCE, Benzene and Vinyl Chloride. It does not address some lesser-known but highly toxic chemicals known as EDCs, Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals.

These lesser-known EDCs have a solid causal relationship with numerous cancers and other debilitating diseases suffered by Veterans. So, while the Pact Act offers relief to many Veterans for the well-known EDCs that it addresses, there are solid medical cases to be made that rightfully go farther than the Pact Act, and they apply to countless Veterans and countless bases including Camp Lejeune (see the list of conditions at the end of this article).


What is an Endocrine Disrupting Chemical (EDC)?

Endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) are substances in the environment (air, soil, or water supply), food sources, and in other manufactured products that interfere with the normal function of your body’s endocrine system. Humans are exposed to EDCs in multiple ways including through the air we breathe, the food we eat, and the water we drink. EDCs can also enter the body through the skin.

This large class of chemicals called EDCs includes some familiar names such as PCBs, Dioxins, Pesticides like DDT, Solvents such as TCE and Benzene, and it also includes the so-called 'Forever Chemicals', namely PFAS (Fire-Fighting Foam).

But there are lesser-known EDCs as well including insecticides such as Lindane, and Toluene. Heavy metals are also EDCs including Arsenic, Cadmium, Lead, and Mercury. Notably, nearly all of these lesser-known EDCs are classified as human carcinogens meaning they play a dual role in the process by which normal, healthy cells transform into cancer cells.


Lesser Known EDCs Present at Almost Every Superfund Site

Exposure to lesser-known EDCs is often overlooked, but they are present in almost every Superfund Site as demonstrated by the EPA’s list of groundwater contaminants posing unacceptable risks to human health. Notable examples of affected Military Bases include Camp Lejeune, Camp Pendleton, Chanute AFB, Fort McClellan, and countless other bases.


Long Latencies


Some of the main Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs) have a very long half-life in human tissues, for example 7 years for Dioxins, 3-5 years for PFAS, 1-3 years for PCBs, and 30 years for Cadmium. Such a long half-life in human tissues translates into long latencies for the diseases they may have caused – meaning Veteran’s who were exposed many years ago may still deserve Service Connection.


New Research Expands the List of Causal Connections


In the past couple of years, new epidemiological studies have been published causally linking EDCs with numerous cancers and diseases. For example, the studies are now clear with respect to EDCs and their causal relationship with Thyroid cancer. The specific EDCs causal to Thyroid cancer are: Toluene, Lindane, PCBs, Mercury, and DEHP. Each of these independently increase the risk of Thyroid cancer significantly. The simultaneous exposure to multiple EDCs amplifies the risk from each, making the link even stronger.


So, while the Pact Act offers relief to many Veterans for the well-known EDCs that it addresses, there are clear medical cases to be made that rightfully go further than the Pact Act, and they apply to countless Veterans and countless bases including Camp Lejeune.


Cancers Not on the Camp Lejeune Pact Act Presumptive List


Here are the non-presumptive cancers for which there is solid research in support of causal links:


Thyroid Cancer

Brain Cancer

Breast

Colorectal

Esophagus

Lung

Myelofibrosis

Pancreas

Polycythemia Vera

Prostate

Sarcoma


Non-Cancer Diseases caused by EDCs

Hypothyroidism, Pituitary and Adrenal dysfunction, Diabetes, Obesity, among many other disorders.


In conclusion, Veteran Advocates should understand that the Pact Act is not where the medical connections end. Indeed, countless military bases (as shown by Superfund), including Camp Lejeune, harbor lesser-known EDCs that cause numerous cancers and other debilitating Veteran diseases.


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