Thursday, March 4, 2010

Agent Orange" Let Bygones Be Bygones? Not So Much

By Sharon Meyer

Agent Orange was a chemical used during the Vietnam war that contained the deadly toxin dioxin or TCDD, which is considered one of the most dangerous toxins in the world. This information can be found on any website or google search. What is harder to find out is the current situation of Agent Orange. What you do find is that there are still recent articles about people who are still being affected by this deadly toxin release in Vietnam. I found an article published on December 4, 2009 that discussed the illnesses of a young 19-year-old girl from Vietnam and two sisters from Indiana.

The first discussed was Carrie Price -Nix and Amanda Price, two girls from Indiana who suffer from Chiari malformation. It is a “structural defect in the base of the brain associated with spina bifida.” This definition is taken from the article from the Chicago Tribune written by Jason Grotto and Tim Jones. The father of the two was an Air Force mechanic who served at the U.S. Air base in Dang Nang in 1967. The article reports that he battled diseases like Leukemia, diabetes, and chloracne. He passed away in April of 2008. So not only was this man affected when he was off at war fighting for our country, but it was passed down unintentionally to his daughters. The article adds that the disease that the girls have is “recognized by the VA as a defoliant-related birth defect in the offspring of male veterans.” So it is recognized and still not being taken care of by the government. How many people must STILL be affected by a chemical that has not been used since 1970? Thousands obviously, because there are articles and stories being written as recent as less than a year ago about the people who are being affected by Agent Orange.

Let’s move to Central Vietnam to Do Thi Hang, the 19-year-old who I mentioned earlier in the blog. She suffers from “seizures caused by the fluid that accumulates in her brain. She can’t walk and has trouble controlling her bowels,” according to the Chicago Tribune. Because of the undeveloped health care in Vietnam, this young girl was never given a proper diagnosis. The article tells about the girls’ father, Diu, who also fought in the Vietnam war. He was stationed in an abandoned US air base, that has areas that new studies found are “still contaminated with extremely high levels of TCDD.” He was stationed there for four years. This man was unknowingly breathing in these deadly toxins for four years. Since the war ended, Dui and his wife have had 15 children; 12 of them died before the age of three suffering from similar symptoms of their 19-year-old Do Thi Hang, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Agent Orange had only stopped being used in the 1970’s after a study was done that it was deadly. What about other wars? Was this chemical unknowingly used then? What does this say to many of the diseases that doctors have no explanation for? There are people living in Vietnam and the United States who are still being affected by this deadly chemical that was obviously not researched enough before or even now, to get a grasp on the after effects of it.

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