Thursday, April 10, 2014

Agent Orange: U.S. Government Helps Americans, Not Vietnamese

By Brianne Bishop

The herbicide Agent Orange was used in the Vietnam War between 1962 and 1971. The main reason for using this chemical was to remove vegetation that could be used for enemy cover. The effects of the herbicide were unknown at the time, but have since been discovered. This chemical not only affected the people of Vietnam, but the American soldiers as well.

Approximately 20 million gallons of this herbicide were released on enemy territory. Agent Orange includes a type of dioxin. Dioxins are released in every day life from burning waste to diesel exhaust, chemical manufacturing and other processes. The type of dioxin that was used in the Vietnam War, TCDD, is categorized as the most dangerous and toxic of all dioxins. It has also been listed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as a known human carcinogen.

According to the American Cancer Society, extensive research has been done in order to make a connection between herbicides and cancers. It has been tested if dioxins specifically can cause increase risk of cancers. During studies it was found that people who come into regular contact with this herbicide could be linked to cancers. These cancers include soft tissue sarcoma, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, Hodgkin disease, lung and other respiratory cancers, prostate cancer (which is by far the most common), multiple myeloma, and other cancers including leukemia in the children of veterans. Many of these cancers can also be linked to people who come into contact regularly with chemicals such as herbicides and pesticides, who are mostly farmers.

About 3 million American served in Vietnam during the 1960s and early 1970s. Many veterans have been suffering from lasting health effects, which includes cancer. A study was done in 1970 that found that Agent Orange causes birth defects in lab animals. The United States now provides compensation for veterans who are suffering from the effects of Agent Orange. However, the United States does not provide compensation to the Vietnamese who were harmed during the sprayings.

Vietnamese children are suffering from the afteraffects of Agent Orange. The chemical caused major birth defects; according to Sophie Jane Evans' report in the Mail Online News about photographer Matt Lief Anderson’s first hand experience with these children with birth defects. She wrote that the orphans suffered from abnormalities such as birth defects and mental disorders. Some of the orphans' spines are curved and others have missing or deformed limbs. Other birth defects include being deaf, blind, and or mute. Other children in the orphanage also have in non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, cancers, type 2 diabetes, soft tissue carcinoma, and reproductive abnormalities. These children were born decades after the Vietnam war, but are still unfortunately suffering from the consequences of the war.

I found it extremely interesting how the United States doesn’t offer any compensation to people in Vietnam. The orphanages are low funded operations. They survive on donations for food and clothing. The U.S. government has denied that these birth defects can be linked to the use of Agent Orange on the Vietnamese vegetation. Therefore, the U.S. has not offered any aid to these Vietnamese victims, and probably never will.

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