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The Impact of Waterborne Volatile Organic Compounds on Women


Water is an essential resource for life, but not all water is free from contaminants. One group of pollutants that can have significant effects on health is volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

These compounds can enter drinking water sources through various means such as industrial discharges, agricultural runoff, and improper disposal of chemicals.

In this article, we will explore the impact of waterborne VOCs on women and the unique risks they face.

What are Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)?

Volatile organic compounds are a group of chemicals that have high vapor pressure and low water solubility. They can easily evaporate into the air, which is why they are referred to as “volatile.” VOCs are found in many everyday products, such as paints, cleaning supplies, pesticides, and fuel. When these products are used or improperly disposed of, VOCs can enter the air and water supply.

One notorious example of the dangers of VOC contamination is the water pollution incident at Camp Lejeune, a U.S. Marine Corps base in North Carolina. The base experienced significant water contamination due to VOCs, which led to widespread exposure among military personnel and their families. This exposure has been linked to various health issues, including cancers and other serious illnesses, as reported by TorHoerman Law.

As a result of the Camp Lejeune water contamination, many affected individuals are pursuing legal actions to seek compensation for the harm they have suffered. The Camp Lejeune settlement amounts for these cases vary depending on the specific details and strength of each case.

Legal proceedings in these matters often involve complex factors such as the duration and extent of exposure, as well as the severity of health effects. Establishing a clear link between the contamination and the health issues experienced is also a key challenge in these cases.

How Waterborne VOCs Affect Women

Women can be more susceptible to the negative health effects of waterborne VOCs due to physiological and hormonal differences. Here are some of the potential impacts:

Reproductive Health

Exposure to waterborne VOCs has been linked to reproductive issues such as infertility and miscarriage. Pregnant women are particularly vulnerable as VOCs can cross the placental barrier and affect fetal development.

Research published in Springer Link studied 76 healthy pregnant women and examined the effects of VOC exposure during the fetal period. The study found that exposure to VOCs could lead to adverse outcomes for children’s health. These include a higher risk of low birth weight and potential disruptions in balanced development. This highlights the importance of monitoring and regulating VOC levels to protect both maternal and child health.

Hormonal Disruption

Many volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are endocrine disruptors, which means they can alter the normal function of hormones in the body. This hormonal imbalance can lead to various health issues, particularly in women.


Since several hormones regulate the menstrual cycle, disruptions in any of them can result in irregular periods. Conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and amenorrhea are examples of hormone-related disorders that can cause irregular menstrual cycles.

Additionally, the Cleveland Clinic emphasizes that hormonal imbalances are a primary cause of infertility in individuals assigned female at birth. Conditions such as PCOS and anovulation can contribute to infertility. Moreover, hormonal imbalances may also be linked to diabetes, thyroid disorders, and obesity.

Neurological Effects

Exposure to volatile organic compounds (VOCs) can impact the nervous system, causing symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, and memory issues. Prolonged exposure may lead to more serious neurological harm.

A study reported in Chemistry World found that consuming water contaminated with the industrial solvent trichloroethylene (TCE) is risky. It may increase the likelihood of developing Parkinson’s disease later in life. The risk can rise by up to 70%.

The study assessed veterans who served at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina for at least three months between 1975 and 1985. Researchers compared health data from 84,824 veterans from Camp Lejeune with that of 73,298 veterans from a non-contaminated site. The findings revealed that 430 veterans had Parkinson’s disease, 279 from Camp Lejeune, and 151 from the control group. This data suggests that the risk of Parkinson’s disease was 70% higher among Camp Lejeune veterans compared to the control group.


Who is eligible for Camp Lejeune settlement?

Individuals who were at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 days from August 1, 1953, to December 31, 1987, could be eligible for settlements. This includes veterans, family members, and workers. This eligibility applies to those who experienced health issues due to water contamination.

What types of health issues may be compensated for?

Compensated health issues may include cancers, neurological disorders, reproductive issues, and other illnesses linked to exposure to VOCs. The specific conditions covered can vary depending on the case.

Can family members of veterans apply for settlements?

Yes, family members who lived at Camp Lejeune during the specified period and suffered health issues from water contamination may qualify for settlements.


In conclusion, waterborne volatile organic compounds pose a significant health risk, particularly for women, due to their unique physiological vulnerabilities. By taking proactive measures and staying informed, women can reduce their exposure to VOCs and protect their health.

Policymakers and communities should collaborate to tackle the sources of waterborne VOCs. Together, they can work to guarantee clean, safe water access for everyone.