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Renal Toxicity

by Civilian Exposure

The following is information on renal toxicity, one of the 15 health conditions covered by the VA for Camp Lejeune victims. The information comes courtesy of Kidney.org:


Nephrotoxic injury is damage to one or both of the kidneys that results from exposure to a toxic material, usually through ingestion.


The kidneys are the primary organs of the urinary system, which purifies the blood by removing wastes from it and excreting them from the body in urine. The kidneys filter about 45 gal (180 l) of blood daily. Because of this high volume, the kidneys are more often exposed to toxic substances in the blood and are very vulnerable to injury from those sources. Acute renal failure can occur. The kidneys suddenly lose their ability to function. The alternative is chronic renal failure, in which kidney function slowly deteriorates. If unchecked, renal failure can result in death.

Causes and symptoms

Several different substances can be toxic to the kidneys. These include:

  • antibiotics, primarily aminoglycosides, sulphonamides, amphotericin B, polymyxin, neomycin, bacitracin, rifampin, trimethoprim, cephaloridine, methicillin, aminosalicylic acid, oxy- and chlorotetracyclines
  • analgesics, including acetaminophen (Tylenol), all nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (e.g. aspirin, ibuprofen), all prostaglandin synthetase inhibitors
  • contrast agents used in some diagnostic tests, such as sodium iodide
  • heavy metals, such as lead, mercury, arsenic, and uranium
  • anti-cancer drugs, such as cyclosporin, cisplatin, and cyclophosphamide
  • methemoglobin-producing agents
  • solvents and fuels, such as carbon tetrachloride, methanol, amyl alcohol, and ethylene glycol
    herbicides and pesticides
  • overproduction of uric acid

Risk Factors

  • Age
  • Underlying kidney disease
  • Severe dehydration
  • Prolonged exposure to heavy metals or solvents
  • Presence of diseases that cause the overproduction of uric acid

Symptoms depend upon the type of toxin involved. Symptoms can include azotemia, anemia, acidosis, overhydration, and hypertension. If symptoms go unchecked, more serious symptoms may occur, including seizures and coma.


Through a combination of physical examination, blood tests, urine tests, and imaging procedures, diagnosis of nephrotoxic injury as the underlying cause results from a thorough investigation of the patient’s history.


Treatment takes place in the hospital and focuses on removing the toxin from the patient’s system, while maintaining kidney function. Removal methods are targeted to specific toxins and may include the use of diuretics or chelates to enhance excretion of the toxin in urine, or, in extreme cases, the direct removal of toxins from the blood via hemodialysis or passing the blood over an absorbent substance such as charcoal. Support of kidney function depends on the extent of damage to the organs and ranges from monitoring fluid levels to dialysis.


In cases where damage has not progressed beyond acute renal failure, kidney function can be fully restored once the toxin is removed from the system and equilibrium restored. However, if permanent damage has resulted in chronic renal failure, lifelong dialysis or a kidney transplant may be required.

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Willie Copeland May 12, 2015 - 10:53 am

I’m a former marine stationed on lejeune from 83 to 85, I just wanted to comment on this because my condition and symptoms are closely related to those described in the definition above. But, to take it a lil farther, my arms and legs were riddled with knots and open gout wounds to the point that the VA amputated both my legs above the knees, I only have limited use in my thumbs, which allow me to type. My kidneys have completely shutdown a couple of times, but thank God, they started to function again. In conclusion, Renal Toxicity is real. I’m a total care patient, bedridden and in a nursing home, and all the while my case is in appeal, they say,..whether the VA give me help or not, I’m thankful to be alive!

Civilian Exposure
Civilian Exposure May 19, 2015 - 1:09 am

God bless you, sir. Thank you for sharing your story, not just here on the site with Civilian Exposure, but also by phone with me and all of the other CAP members present at the recent CDC/ATSDR Camp Lejeune CAP meeting in Greensboro. Your story touched many of us. We wanted to make sure you were heard by the VA, the ATSDR, the USMC and Congressional staffers present. I hope that you will start to see some sort of real action regarding getting the help you need and deserve from those responsible to provide it.

Crystal Diane Dickens October 19, 2015 - 2:54 pm

I was at the Camp Lejeune water Contamination CAP Meeting on my birthday this year, May 12, 2015. Yo should have been there and heard how the VA (Washington, D.C.) SMOOGED all of the people that traveled to NC to hear some good news. The in Atlanta August 2015, same BS. Well someone needs to do something. The next CAP Meeting is in December 2015. Every Marine that can ahold go and or be online to speak out.

Civilian Exposure
Civilian Exposure October 20, 2015 - 12:30 pm

Hi Crystal,
Glad to know you were at the May meeting. Actually, I was there too when I served on the CAP. I was the one who asked in the public forum about the claims process, who decides on the subject matter experts and what processes were involved. Of course, that was left unanswered as usual. Otherwise, I heard the same tired commentary that I have always heard from the VA in previous CAP meetings. Fortunately, the public was there in May to finally witness it as well. That said, people are doing something. CAP folks are working to help military victims and I believe the VA is finally coming around to establishing presumptive status for several illnesses. That doesn’t compensate for loss, time, illness, years of struggle, etc. It just doles out some health checkups and coverage for the future. Not saying that’s a bad thing, but I wouldn’t expect much else to be frank. With the statute of repose upheld in Circuit Court, and with the Supreme Court last week saying it will not take it up this year, no one can file a suit for negligence or any other issue about Lejeune. Therefore, why would the VA answer any tort claims in the positive when they know that if they deny a tort claim, additional court litigation pursuing further legal action will be dead on arrival in court. Unless a law is passed to set up a comprehensive compensation and health care fund for all claims for ALL folks (military, civilian, spouses, children, etc. alive or dead), presumptive status is about as far as this will ever go. They know it. Fiscally, and not surprisingly, it would be the “cheapest” option for them. Good luck and I do encourage everyone to go to Tampa to hear it for themselves this December. More important, however, is the action we can take together to create a better solution in Congress, if at all possible. – GS

Vallery Hart May 29, 2015 - 1:01 am

sorry for your problems, hope things get better for you and hope va starts helping you soon. My husband was also a marine stationed there. Their are many out there that have not even been contacted by va and informed about the health problems that are connected to this camp. Maybe with your help they will all learn. keep talking.

Civilian Exposure
Civilian Exposure June 15, 2015 - 4:00 pm

Vallery: Thank you for your kind words of support. We are trying to extend outreach on this issue across America. We’re still a bit small but gaining ground as more and more people learn about our non-profit and those that we seek to help. Will keep talking, very loud! 🙂

Crystal Diane Dickens October 19, 2015 - 2:51 pm

I would like to comment as well on the Camp Lejeune water contamination. I have been submitting claims and been denied many times. I have renal toxicity, CHF, hypertension , skin conditions, and the list goes on. I was prescribed pain medication 800MG of Ibuprofen for years 3 times per day and all of a sudden my kidneys started to fail and now I also have diabetes. Well what am I to do now? My life has been tainted however I cannot get compensated for what has been knowingly done to me as well other Marines. I have a Tort Claim pending since 2010 and when I call to ask about it I am told they could not locate it, submit another one because they was no action to date they are just sitting, and that it did not matter any way because I could always sue to government. Well that was a slap in the face for me someone who is dying way before her time I am only 57. I need representation and do not know who can help me get through this Tort claim situation. I wrote to the White House and asked for an investigation. I have heard nothing to date. So what next? I need some help. Anyone out there? Let me know please. Semper Fi! VA is a lie!

Civilian Exposure
Civilian Exposure October 20, 2015 - 12:32 pm

Hi Crystal,
I already responded to your other comment, but as far as legal goes, you can file a claim with JAG but then you’ll have to wait for them to answer. That could be months or years, if ever. My understanding is that after 6 months, you can assume no response from them means a rejection, and then you can pursue further legal action. The catch is this: With the statue of repose in place in NC, you will not be able to pursue a lawsuit based on time limitation. You’re essentially stuck at that point, unless something changes at the top.

Robert Griffin February 16, 2016 - 12:18 pm

I was born at Camp Lejeune 9-28-56. I have an extremely rare renal condition that causes my body to waste magnesium. If Camp Lejeune water can damage kidneys in these other ways it certainly could have caused my mutation. (google Hypomagnesemia 6 Renal). Symptoms include the over production of epithelial cells (skin and nails) thin brittle skin, and muscle weakness. I tried very hard to get stronger all my life but could not. Turns out magnesium is necessary to both muscle contraction (electrical process) and muscle relaxation. I started supplementing magnesium at 57. At 59 — without exercise — I am physically stronger than I have ever been, the skin on my feet no longer falls apart in just 5 minutes in bare feet, and my ADHD and other problems have vanished. My life was profoundly effected by this conviction but I did well anyway and got to have a life. My heart goes out to the marines, sailors, and their dependents; as well as the civilian workers. Shame on the Marine Corps for covering this up for so long. Let them “keep their honor clean” by doing every thing they can to assist the victims of Camp Lejeune water. The government should waive its statute of limitations defense. God Bless America

Civilian Exposure
Civilian Exposure February 22, 2016 - 12:07 pm

RG: I’m sorry to hear of your health issues. We’ll take a look into that specific type of toxicity condition and see what comes up. In the meantime, I’m sure most everyone will agree with your expressed sentiments. Honor must be restored and accountability must be secured to solve this problem. We continue to fight to make sure that the government agencies involved eventually do the right thing. We’re watching. – GS

Robert J. Doherty March 5, 2016 - 2:56 pm

I served at Camp Lejeune in 1960-1961. I’ve been diagnosed with stage 3 kidney failure from an unknown cause. I applied and was added to the Camp Lejeune registry, but I have been billed for all my treatments and medications as the VA decided it was not related.The VA said this was determined through a utilization review, but no one will give me anything in writing as to how they made that determination and for which treatments or prescriptions. I wrote to the billing dispute office in Lebanon PA and was told they cannot answer any of my questions. He referred me to a Facility Review technician at East Orange NJ VA hospital. She said renal toxicity means kidney cancer and I don’t have cancer so it’s not covered. I can’t get anything at all in writing except the bills which threaten to garnish my SS pension if I don’t pay. The camp Lejeune registry is worthless.

Civilian Exposure
Civilian Exposure April 21, 2016 - 10:16 am

RJ: What a mess. This is a classic example of the obstacle course of bureaucratic red-tape and double-speak that is endemic of the VA structure. I’m sorry you’re getting the runaround. I wouldn’t necessarily agree that the registry is worthless. It’s the handling of claims and the ambiguous process deployed by the VA that is the real issue. If you don’t mind, I’ll share this story with our subscribers, because it I’m sure you’re not the only one with this hassle. Maybe someone has some feedback that can help. -GS

WILLIAM F. RETALLICK July 25, 2016 - 11:54 am


Civilian Exposure
Civilian Exposure July 28, 2016 - 2:18 pm

Thank you for sharing and thank you for your service. For those that are unaware, neurogenic bladder is a problem in which a person lacks bladder control due to any neurological disorder. These may include spinal cord injury, spina bifida, cauda equina syndrome, multiple sclerosis, stroke, transverse myelitis, brain tumors, cerebral aneurysms, Parkinsons, Alzheimers, multiple system atrophy (MSA), and other degenerative nerve disorders or renal damage. Therefore, this may indeed be an offshoot of renal toxicity derived from Lejeune contamination. You are correct that the VA has been told to rule in favor of the Veteran when in doubt. However, their subject matter expert system for review has, in the past, denied up to 96% of all claims to date. They may be improving that rate since last report, and they may also have to change their SME system at some point thanks to pressure in Congress. We’ll see. Do let us know and keep us updated on the results of your pending claim so that others can learn from what you may find out. -GS


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