The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that as many as 75,000 people may have been exposed to drinking water contaminated by dry cleaning fluid at the Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.
The CDC said Tuesday that the contamination lasted 30 years from 1957 through 1987. An off-base dry cleaners leaked tetrachloroethylene, or PCE, into a septic system near the well of a family housing area, called the Tarawa Terrace.
The federal health agency recommends that former Camp Lejeune Marines and their families who lived in base housing get physicals and monitor their health for any changes.
The Department of Health and Human Services says PCE may be a cancer-causing agent, but the effects of exposure to it in drinking water are unknown.
PCE is in the class of chemicals known as volatile organic compounds. Some of these compounds have been linked with birth defects such as cleft lip and spina bifida, and cancers such as leukemia and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.