Sunday, March 14, 2010

Agent Orange's Effects on Vietnam

By Chris Brancato

Agent Orange, since being first exposed during the Vietnam War, has had long lasting effects that have left many feeling unexpected repercussions.

First being used as a chemical to wipe out the “enemies” crops, Agent Orange was a herbicide that contained TCDD, which proved to be extremely effective in causing damage to anything that it made contact with. The main issue that the Vietnamese people have been facing is the effects that it has had not only on the people who were first exposed to it back in the late 60’s, but to their offspring.

Five of every 100 children are born with some form of physical or mental abnormality, a fourfold increase since the start of the war, according to Vietnamese scientists, reported the Chicago Tribune in a recent investigation.

Congress allocated at least $125 million to fight HIV/Aids in Vietnam, while roughly only $46 million has been provided to help Vietnamese who lost limbs from unexploded bombs dropped by the United States. Many people question whether the U.S. should take direct responsibility to aid Agent Orange victims, since the U.S. were the initiators of this ongoing problem over 40 years ago.

A study conducted by Columbia University professor Jeanne Stellman, published in the peer-reviewed journal Nature, estimated that 2.1 million to 4.8 million Vietnamese civilians were exposed to the chemicals during the war. Yet certain U.S. officials still view these accusations as forms of propaganda.
Nearly 24,000 gallons of Agent Orange and 21,000 gallons of Agent Blue – contained Arsenic – were sprayed in a small village in Vietnam called Shu’s village, according to data from spraying missions. The liquid made contact with almost all of the villagers, which has undoubtedly caused a lasting problem for any of these individuals that wish to have children.

In the same Chicago Tribune article, examples of children with visible blue veins, unhealthy, below average weight issues, even to mental retardation have been likely links to the contact made with Agent Orange through past generations.

It doesn’t seem like the state of things are really getting any better, especially considering the fact that this article was published only three months ago. Regardless of the politics that were at play during the time of war, we should aid those who are facing life-threatening health problems in direct correlations to our actions. Shrugging it off as propaganda is not only ignorant, but also complete, invalidated denial.

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