What Is Agent Orange?

Agent Orange Was The Code Name For A Herbicide Developed For The Military
Primarily To Be Use In Tropical Climates
The Purpose Of The Product Was To Deny An Enemy Cover And Concealment In Dense Terrain By Defoliating Trees And Shrubbery Where The Enmy Could Hide
Although The Product Dates Back To The 1940's
Serious Testing For Military Applications Did Not Begin Until The Early 1960's

"Agent Orange" Was A Code Name For The Orange Band That Was Used To Mark The Drums It Was Stored In
It Was Principally Effective Against Broad Leaf Foliage
Such As The Dense Jungle Like Terrain Found In Southeast Asia
Agent Orange Was Tested In Vietnam In The Early 1960's
And Brought Into Ever Widening Use During The Height Of The War (1967-68)
It's Use Was Diminished And Eventually Discontinued In 1971

Agent Orange Was A 50-50 Mix Of Two Chemicals
They Were Known Conventionally As 2,4,D And 2,4,5,T
The Combined Product Was Mixed With Kerosene Or Diesel Fuel And Dispersed By Aircraft
And Hand Spraying
An Estimated 19 Million Gallons Of Agent Orange Were Used In South Vietnam During The War

Fears That Agent Orange Can Cause Human Illness
Stem From The Presence In It Of A Contaminant Called TCDD
TCDD Is Only One Of A Family Of Substances Called Dioxins
Dioxin Is An Undesired Contaminant
It Is Produced During The Manufacture Of 2,4,5-T
TCDD Is Short For 2,3,7,8-Tetrachlorodibenzo-P-Dioxin
Some Are Found In Nature And Are Cousins Of The Dibenzofurans And Pcb's
The TCDD Found In Agent Orange Is Thought To Be Harmful To Man
Tests Show That It Is A Potent Teratogen For Some Laboratory Animals
Exposure Of Pregnant Females To Exceedingly Small Amounts Of Dioxin Causes Malformed Offspring

In Laboratory Tests On Animals TCDD Has Caused A Wide Variety Of Diseases
Many Of These Diseases Are Fatal
TCDD Is Not Found In Nature
But Rather Is A Man Made And Always Unwanted ByProduct Of The Chemical Manufacturing Process
The Agent Orange Used In Vietnam Was Later Found To Be Extremely Contaminated With TCDD
Some Investigators Believe That The Rate Of Birth Defects In Vietnamese Women Was Increased In The Sprayed Areas

The Most Clearly Established Health Effect Of Dioxin In Humans Is A Skin Eruption
This Skin Eruption Is Called Chloracne
An Explosion In A Chemical Factory In Seveso Italy In 1976 Contaminated The Vicinity With Dioxin And Caused Many Cases Of Chloracne
Many Vietnam Veterans Believe That Exposure To Dioxin While They Served In Vietnam Later Caused Them To Father Babies With Birth Defects
However Careful Study Of Several Thousand Families In The Area Of Atlanta Georgia Revealed That The % Of Babies Born With Birth Defects To Fathers Who Had Served In Vietnam
2-3% Was The Same As For Fathers That Had Served Elsewhere In The Military
And The Same For Fathers Who Had Never Had Military Service At All

A Study In 1987 Of Vietnam Ground Troops That Served In Sprayed Areas Revealed That They Averaged 4 Parts Per Trillion "Ppt" Of Dioxin In Their Blood
The Half Life Of Dioxin In The Body Is 6-10 Years
So Assuming That These Men Got All Of Their Dioxin Exposure In Vietnam
They Would Have Had Some 20 Ppt The Maximum Permissible Amount In U.S. Civilians At That Time

But This Assumption Is Certainly False

Dioxins Are Produced Whenever Organic Matter Is Burned
From Backyard Barbecues
Municipal Incinerators
Or Wood Burning Stoves

Furthermore 4 Ppt Of Dioxin Was Also Found In The Blood Of An Otherwise Matched Group Of Veterans Who Did Not Serve In Vietnam
U.S. Civilians With No Known Exposure To Tcdd Should Not Have Serum Levels Of TCDD Exceeding 20 Ppt
The Highest Level Found In Persons Living Near Seveso Was 1,800 Ppt
The Health Of Vietnam Veterans Is Still Being Monitored
Those That Were Directly Involved In The Spraying Itself Called "Operation Ranch Hand"
They Are Now Developing Diabetes At A Significantly Higher Rate Than The Others

The Vietnamese Have Long Claimed That Agent Orange And The Dioxin It Contained
Has Seriously Damaged The Health Of Those Living In The Areas Where It Was Used
The US Says There Is No Proof And That All This Is Just Propaganda
And Yet In The States Vietnam Veterans Who Handled Agent Orange Can Claim Compensation For A Whole Range Of Diseases Recognised As Being Associated With Dioxin
This Ranges From Skin Diseases Such As Chloracne
Through To Conditions That Affect The Nerves And Lymphatic Glands
As Well As A Range Of Cancers Of The Lung Larynx And Prostate

Vietnamese Scientists Studying Dioxin Levels Have Been Hampered By Lack Of Resources
An Independent Canadian Team Hatfield Consultants Have Studied The Levels Of Dioxin That Still Exist In One Area That Was Heavily Sprayed And Found Disturbing Results

Team Member David Levi Said

We Should Not Think Of This As A Historical Problem
This Is A Present Day Contamination Issue
The Dioxins That Are Present Are Entering The Food Chain Today
It Is Also Being Taken Up By The People Living In The Area Today
The Lasting Legacy Of The Agent Orange Drop Has Even Staggered Some War Veterans

Chuck Starey Of The Vietnam Veterans Of America Foundation Said

Any Sprays Poisons That Are Sprayed From The Airplanes And Helicopters You Have To Have Some Concerns About
But I Never Imagined It Would Be As Devastating As It Apparently Has Been Over The Years
Vietnamese Scientists Have Been Shocked By The Canadian Team's Findings
There Is Talk Of Evacuating Contaminated Areas A Quarter Of A Century After The Spraying Stopped

Dr Nguyen Viet Nhan Who Has Studied Child Health In Areas Where Agent Orange Was Used
Is Aware That Dioxin Is Known To Cause Cancer And Brain Damage In Children
But Argues That It Is Also Causing The Large Amount Of Deformities Found In The Sprayed Areas
Dr Nguyen's Pilot Study Compared The Health Of Children In One Area That Had Been Sprayed With Those In Another That Had Not

Children In Areas That Had Been Sprayed Were

More Than Three Times As Likely To Have Cleft Palates

More Than Three Times As Likely To Be Mentally Retarded

More Than Three Times As Likely To Have Extra Fingers Or Toes

Nearly Eight Times As Likely To Suffer Hernias

The Vietnamese Government Claims There Are So Many Children Born With Problems Caused By Dioxin That They Have Had To Set Up A Network Of 11 Special Schools
They Are So Called "Peace Villages" All Across The Country

Agent Orange Is Not The Only Still Remaining Lethal Legacy Of The Vietnam War

Areas Such As Quang Tri Province North Of The Aloui Valley Are Still Littered With Unexpoded Bombs
In Total It Is Estimated That Six Million Are Still Scattered Across Vietnam
Detonating Unexploded Bombs In Areas Where Dioxin Is In The Soil Is Likely To Reactivate The Chemical
This Means Demining Must Be Followed By Decontamination If Land Is To Be Made Fully Safe
In Addition To The Aluoi Valley It Is Thought There Could Be At Least Nine Other Heavily Contaminated "Hot Spots"

The Cost Of A Clean Up Operation Could Be Enormous

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