Monday, April 11, 2016

Agent Orange Effects Still Unfolding

Veterans For Peace Agent Orange Campaign

By Jonathan Sanzari

Agent Orange was a toxic herbicide used during 1961 to 1971 in the Vietnam War. According to the Aspen Institute, it was created to “defoliate trees and shrubs and kill food crops that were providing cover and food to opposition forces.” However, it was uncovered that Agent Orange had horrendous side-effects that could harm the health of whoever it came in contact with. “It was a 50/50 mixture of two herbicides: 2,4-D and 2,4, 5-T. It remained toxic for only days or weeks and then degraded. but it had a toxic contaminant, dioxin, that did not degrade as readily and is still causing health problems in Vietnam.”

The Vietnam war took place from 1954 to 1975, according to Britannica, with the bulk of US troops serving from 1965-1972. According to, “about 3 million people served in the US military in Vietnam during the course of the war, about 1.5 million of whom served during the period of heaviest herbicide spraying from 1967 to 1969.” When veterans returned from Vietnam symptoms would vary. Some veterans got cancer, children with birth defects skin rashes and other health problems.

A recent study done by the National Academy of Sciences that was published on March 10 regarding the effects that Agent Orange has on humans found that Agent Orange and other herbicides that were used during the war may lead to bladder cancer, spina bifida, hypothyroidism, and Parkinson’s disease, among other health problems.

Although Agent Orange was discontinued, chemical companies continued selling a harmful herbicide in that formula. According to Penn Live, “Production of Agent Orange halted in the 1970s. While the herbicide is not used, one of its components remains widely used in dozens of garden products.” 

The continued use of 2,4-D should raise concerns to everybody who is looking for lawn care products. People must do their research on a lawn-care product before you apply it to your property. You don’t want your dog or children to be inhaling such harmful herbicides into their lungs. Later in life, they could potentially develop a health problem that could of been avoided by simply reading a label for the chemical that was used in Agent Orange.

The government has been neglecting its actions to rightfully compensate those Vietnam veterans who were affected by the deadly Agent Orange. The first lawsuit was filed in 1978 against Dow Chemical and other chemical companies that produced it. The government, however, still hasn’t compensated all Vietnam veterans in 2016. 

Many veterans feel that the government is trying to sweep the problem under the rug. “About a million and a half of us are already gone,” Paul Sutton, former chairman of the Vietnam Veterans of America’s Agent Orange Committee, told the Chicago Tribune in 2009.

The report done by the National Academy of Sciences is the last one that is mandatory to produce due to the Agent Orange Act of 1991. However, according to Science Daily, “the [Veterans and Agent Orange] committee also called for a careful review of evidence concerning whether paternal exposure to any toxicant has definitively resulted in abnormalities in the first generation of offspring.” There are still organizations dedicated to carrying out the fight against Agent Orange, regardless if veterans who were affected have passed on.


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