Agent Orange: Vietnam’s Ongoing Calamity

The U.S. government’s crime of saturating large swaths of Vietnam with poisonous Agent Orange got short shrift in PBS’ “The Vietnam War,” but it remains an ongoing calamity, write Marjorie Cohn and Jonathan Moore.

By Marjorie Cohn and Jonathan Moore

Watching the Ken Burns-Lynn Novick 18-hour series, “The Vietnam War,” is an emotional experience. Whether you served in the U.S. military during the war or marched in the streets to end it, you cannot remain untouched by this documentary. The battle scenes are powerful, the stories of U.S. veterans and Vietnamese soldiers who fought on both sides of the war compelling.

A U.S. military helicopter spraying the defoliant Agent Orange over Vietnam during the Vietnam War. (U.S. Army photo)

The toll in human terms caused by the war is staggering. Nearly 58,000 Americans and 2 million to 3 million Vietnamese, many of them civilians, were killed in the war. Untold numbers were wounded. Many U.S. veterans of the war suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. More U.S. Vietnam War vets have committed suicide than died in the war. However, those numbers do not begin to tell the complete story of the war.

In one of its most serious omissions, the series gives short shrift to the destruction wreaked by the U.S. military’s spraying of deadly chemical herbicides containing the poison dioxin over much of Vietnam, the most common of which was Agent Orange. This is one of the most tragic legacies of the war. Yet, aside from a few brief mentions, the victims of Agent Orange/dioxin, both Vietnamese and American, are not portrayed in the series. More importantly, the ongoing harm created by this chemical warfare program is never mentioned.

Agent Orange/dioxin was an herbicidal chemical weapon manufactured by U.S. chemical companies like Dow and Monsanto and sprayed by the U.S. military from 1961 to 1971.  Dioxin is one of the most toxic chemicals known to humankind. Approximately 3 million Vietnamese and thousands of U.S. and allied soldiers were exposed to Agent Orange/dioxin.

The U.S. government was aware that the use of poison as a weapon of war was forbidden by international law well before it authorized its use in Vietnam. In fact, the U.S. government suppressed a 1965 report, called the Bionetics study, that showed dioxin caused many birth defects in experimental animals. It was not until the results of that study were leaked that the use of Agent Orange/dioxin was stopped.

Horrific Birth Defects

Those exposed to Agent Orange/dioxin often have children and grandchildren born with serious illnesses and disabilities. There is a virtual unanimity of opinion within the international scientific community that exposure to Agent Orange/dioxin caused some forms of cancers, reproductive abnormalities, immune and endocrine deficiencies, and nervous system damage.

Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C.

Second- and third-generation victims continue to be born in Vietnam, as well as to U.S. veterans and Vietnamese-Americans in the United States. For many of them and their progeny, the suffering continues.

Mai Giang Vu was exposed to Agent Orange while serving in the Army of South Vietnam. He carried barrels of chemicals to spray in the jungle. His sons were unable to walk or function normally. Their limbs gradually “curled up” and they could only crawl. By age 18, they were bedridden. One died at age 23, the other at age 25.

Nga Tran, a French Vietnamese woman who worked in Vietnam as a war correspondent, was there when the U.S. military began spraying chemical defoliants. A big cloud of the agent enveloped her. Shortly after her daughter was born, the child’s skin began shedding. She could not bear to have physical contact with anyone. The child never grew. She remained 6.6 pounds – her birth weight – until her death at the age of 17 months.

Tran’s second daughter suffers from alpha thalassemia, a genetic blood disorder rarely seen in Asia. Tran saw a woman who gave birth to a “ball” with no human form. Many children are born without brains; others make inhuman sounds. There are victims who have never stood up. They creep and barely lift their heads.

Rosemarie Hohn Mizo is the widow of George Mizo, who fought for the U.S. Army in Vietnam. After he refused to serve a third tour, Mizo was court-martialed, spent 2½ years in prison and received a dishonorable discharge. Before his death from Agent Orange-related illnesses, Mizo helped found the Friendship Village where Vietnamese victims live in a supportive environment.

Dr. Jeanne Stellman, who wrote the seminal Agent Orange article in Nature, said, “This is the largest unstudied [unnatural] environmental disaster in the world.”

Dr. Jean Grassman, of Brooklyn College at the City University of New York, stated dioxin is a potent cellular disregulator that alters several pathways and disrupts many bodily systems. She said children are very sensitive to dioxin, and the intrauterine or postnatal exposure to dioxin may result in altered immune, neurobehavioral and hormonal functioning. Women pass their exposure to their children both in utero and through the excretion of dioxin in breast milk.

These were some of the witnesses who testified at the International Peoples’ Tribunal of Conscience in Support of the Vietnamese Victims of Agent Orange, held in Paris in 2009.

Empty Promise of Compensation

In the 1973 Paris Peace Accords, the Nixon administration promised to contribute $3 billion for compensation and postwar reconstruction of Vietnam. That promise remains unfulfilled.

President Richard Nixon with his then-National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger in 1972.

In 2004, both U.S. veteran and Vietnamese victims sued the chemical companies who knowingly manufactured Agent Orange and other herbicides, which they knew contained an unnecessary but lethal amount of dioxin. The victims were prevented from suing the U.S. government because of the doctrine of sovereign immunity.

Despite agreeing to compensate U.S. veterans in an earlier lawsuit for some maladies caused by their exposure to Agent Orange and other herbicides, the U.S. government and the chemical companies maintained before the courts and to this day that there was no evidence to support a connection between exposure and disease.

The efforts by veterans’ groups and others to take care of our vets has resulted in a compensation scheme administered by the Veterans Administration. It annually pays out billions of dollars to veterans who can demonstrate they were in a contaminated part of Vietnam and have an illness that is associated with exposure to Agent Orange.

Unfortunately, the Vietnamese who were exposed to Agent Orange on a scale unheard of in modern warfare have been left out in the cold. The failure to include this history in the Burns/Novick series is unconscionable. Indeed, one could argue that even the mention of Agent Orange in the series was seriously misleading. For example, in the last episode, the narrator notes the spraying campaign but does so against a verdant backdrop of green fields and abundant crops.

The actions of the U.S. government and the U.S. manufacturers of Agent Orange and other deadly herbicides is a moral outrage. The U.S. government has funded the cleanup of dioxin at the Danang airport, only one of the 28 “hot spots” still contaminated by dioxin. But this effort ignores the damage caused to the people who live there and eat the crops, animals and fish from the surrounding area. All of these hot spots need to be remediated.

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-California) has introduced H.R. 334, the Victims of Agent Orange Relief Act of 2017, which has 23 co-sponsors. The bill would lead to the cleanup of dioxin and arsenic contamination still present in Vietnam. It would provide assistance to the public health system in Vietnam directed at the 3 million Vietnamese people affected by Agent Orange. It would also extend assistance to the affected children of male U.S. veterans who suffer the same set of birth defects covered for the children of female veterans. It would enable research on the extent of Agent Orange-related diseases in the Vietnamese-American community and provide them with assistance. Finally, it would support laboratory and epidemiological research on the effects of Agent Orange.

If you agree that much more needs to be done to address this ongoing calamity of the Vietnam War, contact your representative and ask him or her to sign on as a co-sponsor of H.R. 334. Effective compensation for Agent Orange/dioxin victims is a moral imperative.

?Marjorie Cohn http://marjoriecohn.com/, a veteran of the antiwar movement, is on the national advisory board of Veterans for Peace. She is co-author (with Kathleen Gilberd) of Rules of Disengagement: The Politics and Honor of Military Dissent. And she served as one of seven judges from three continents at the International Peoples’ Tribunal of Conscience in Support of the Vietnamese Victims of Agent Orange, held in Paris in 2009. Jonathan Moore was one of the attorneys who filed a lawsuit to gain compensation for Vietnamese who were exposed to Agent Orange/dioxin. Cohn and Moore are co-coordinators of the Vietnam Agent Orange Relief & Responsibility Campaign.

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59 comments for “Agent Orange: Vietnam’s Ongoing Calamity

  1. Zachary Smith
    October 9, 2017 at 1:27 pm

    The authors have fallen into a common trap some journalists make when writing about things like Agent Orange. Their mistake was to interview characters like “victims” and “scientists”. When an intrepid reader goes to the internet to check on their work, he immediately discovers The Other Side Of The Story. Most searches I made using “dioxin” and related search terms located “dioxinfacts.org” at the top or close to the top of the results list.

    Sample text:

    Dioxin Cancer Potency Lower Than Once Thought
    Dioxin Toxicity and Toxic Equivalency Factors: The Importance of Getting it Right
    Dioxin Toxicity: Not a Simple Matter

    “dioxinfacts.org” doesn’t mention anything about sponsors, so on to more searches. Turns out americanchemistry.com are the grandpappies, and that site happened to have a member list. There were many names, and I noticed Dow and Monsanto were included.

    We’ve learned that gun violence in the US and Agent Orange just aren’t as bad as so many people let on. Would the NRA or the American Chemistry Council lie?

    Another missing term was “depleted uranium”. My first search was made to find the “half life” of Agent Orange in the environment, and I never did locate an answer to that. One thing I’m pretty sure about is that the number isn’t in the range of “hundreds of thousands” to “hundreds of millions” of years like the heavy metals.

    My contention is that bad as Agent Orange was, it pales in comparison with the depleted uranium now contaminating parts of southern Indiana, Yugoslavia, Iraq, and Syria. That’s a crime – and war crime – of the highest rank, and hardly anybody is talking about it at all.

    For all practical purposes, that depleted uranium and the contaminants associated with it will go on killing humans for as long as mankind is on earth.

    • R Davis
      October 11, 2017 at 5:30 am

      “for as long as mankind is on earth”

      Have you got a rough estimate ?
      * 1.000 years
      * 2.000 years
      Mankind on earth has already reached below replacement levels of fertility & I can’t see fertile aliens coming to live here any time soon.
      Can you.

      • TammyWayne
        October 17, 2017 at 2:10 am

        ‘Mankind on earth has already reached below replacement levels of fertility’. This only applies to those of European descent. People of color are having no problem with fertility levels. No ‘aliens’ needed. As it was in the beginning, so shall it be in the end.

  2. October 9, 2017 at 3:18 pm

    Sample text:

    Dioxin Cancer Potency Lower Than Once Thought
    Dioxin Toxicity and Toxic Equivalency Factors: The Importance of Getting it Right
    Dioxin Toxicity: Not a Simple Matter Yeah Nicotine is great for you as well.

    So you are playing Devils Advocate here. You are creating doubt. Much like the tobacco companies did in their efforts against tobacco legislation. Or against Fracking because it contaminates ground water.

    You belong to a particularly sleasy brand of lawyers. I guess that the next thing you will be minimizing is the birth defects caused by depleted uranium used by the US armed forces in Iraq. Or stating that cluster bombs are good for cultivating fields because when they explode they remove the need for plowing. or land mines are really benign because so long as no one trips over one they won´t go off.besides everyone knows that one legged land mine victims live to ripe old ages. And they still have one leg left. Also that point about gun violence not being so bad in the US with 515 mass shootings in the last 447 days somehow or other appears to be a good thing to you. Or 33,000 gunshot deaths . Oh well, whats a thousand or two lives when the profits of the gun industry are at stake. Or 66,000 opiod deaths, what the hell, not so bad in a population of 323 million people is it?

    You and Martin Skrilli have a lot in common, it is called a lack of humanity. You suffer from a birth defect that has eliminated empathy from your makeup.. Lawyers like you should have been taken to the bathroom right after birth and drowned in the bath tub. Then flushed down the toilet. You would not have been missed.

  3. October 9, 2017 at 3:23 pm

    Zacary Smith.

    I have looked for a section that would allow me to delete my previous post. I owe you an apology. I stopped reading your post in the middle and of course I messed up because oif it.

    • Zachary Smith
      October 9, 2017 at 4:27 pm

      That’s a built-in risk of being sarcastic. What really bothers me is when I make a straight post with brimming with logic and “facts” only to have some fanatic trash it because it tramples one or more of his fantasies.

      :)

      • R Davis
        October 11, 2017 at 5:38 am

        Truth & reality stands on it’s own strengths.
        Truth & reality & always win out.
        You will never convince some people because they can’t see – is all.

  4. john wilson
    October 9, 2017 at 4:34 pm

    Notwithstanding the monstrous crime of the mass use of chemical weapons against civilians in Vietnam, the Americans have the audacity to get on their high horse when Syria was accused (falsely) of using chemical weapons recently. The Americans are still using chemical weapons today in the form of white phosphorus to burn men, women and children to death. These horrible people refer to this criminal activity as “shake and bake” First they bomb them then they burn them alive. 58,000 dead Americans is nothing compared with the two to three million on the Vietnam side and anyway, who cares, the Americans went there of their own accord to kill, maim and destroy. They’re still at it in Iraq and Syria today. The Americans will soon be setting men, women, children, whole families on fire in North Korea and we will here the same story about how noble they are and their brave boys are facing danger etc. How about you rsoles just staying in your own country and leave other people alone?!

    • Zachary Smith
      October 9, 2017 at 5:01 pm

      The Americans are still using chemical weapons today in the form of white phosphorus to burn men, women and children to death.

      The legal fiction is that the WP was used only to make an “obscuring smoke”.

      By the way, the US NEVER tortures either.

  5. Dnoah
    October 9, 2017 at 5:16 pm

    As a combat Vietnam veteran I have to admit to mixed reactions on this topic. Certainly the environmental legacy and ongoing human toll is disturbing. On the other hand the reduction of the jungle and foilage removed the hiding places of the enemy. In my experience this reduced our casualties. If the American public and politicians had permitted us to fight the war without so many restrictions maybe we could have ended it more quickly without agent orange.

    • Zachary Smith
      October 9, 2017 at 5:41 pm

      Care to share what those “many restrictions” were?

      • October 9, 2017 at 11:06 pm

        Zach, I will speak from experience, having served 2 tours in nam. The military had it’s hands tied in that police action(it was not a war in the political sense). Practically every move we made was directed from the Pentagon or White House. Weather permitting there was a helo orbiting any engagement, directing field commanders. This was not to assist, this was to second guess and micro-manage everything. So, yes, Zach there were “many restrictions”. And I’m just talking about infantry, the air force and navy had even less freedom of action. By the way, the use of Agent Orange was not a crime. At that time, no one knew the long term effects of dioxins. The military was just trying to save our troops lives by denying the enemy a place to hide. These are the same arguments that were are voiced about bombing Hiroshima.

        • Rita Chandler
          October 10, 2017 at 1:11 am

          Yes maybe and that’s a big maybe Monsanto didn’t know but when they did they should have owned it or the Government should have offered and pushed screaning for Vets. It would have saved lives here at least. It would have saved my fathers life. Instead we got a measly settlement through a class action lawsuit. Sad part is he tried to get a colonoscopy the Dr told him he was too young. He knew something was wrong and by the time he was diagnosed it was too late. Only reason he was diagnosed when he was is he almost cut off his thumb on duct work and his blood work at the hospital came back off. They promised my mom my sisters and mine college would be paid for through war orphans but because we moved from Ohio to Kentucky they wouldn’t pay. There is a huge list of of physical and mental issues passed down to children and grandchildren all 3 of my kids have at least 2 and my sister and I have multiple medical problems all of which are on the list. I don’t want money I want Monsanto to be honest about their roll in this. Although the government has accepted responsibility to an extent now Monsanto continues to deny and problems because of Agent Orange. Now when asked about it they get down right angry.

          • Xerxes
            October 10, 2017 at 11:17 am

            Monsanto/Dow was in the war to make money. It must have been seen as a godsend, by its business managers, when offered an entire country to conduct a key experiment, the extensive aerial spraying of a variety of poisons, which could provide them crucial genomic infomation from surviving fauna and a lead of decades, over their competition, for a marketable GMO. Evil? You bet! But, only in America.

        • Nancy
          October 10, 2017 at 1:32 pm

          You have obviously suffered brain damage due to your “service.”
          My condolences.

        • Zachary Smith
          October 10, 2017 at 10:09 pm

          Weather permitting there was a helo orbiting any engagement, directing field commanders. This was not to assist, this was to second guess and micro-manage everything.

          All these years I’d supposed that the job of military superiors was to “command” subordinates. Direct their movements, correct mistakes. Who knew that aimless charging around by individual Lieutenants and Captains is the way it’s supposed to be done.

    • Daniel Cullen
      October 10, 2017 at 1:51 pm

      That is a base canard that has been repeated endlessly since the 60’s Dnoah. The CIA, Lyndon Johnson, Robert McNamara, and many others knew full well since the early 60’s that the Vietnam Invasion was unwinnable due to the immense support that those in both the North and the South had for the communist cause. The only way to have ‘won’ that war would have been to totally destroy the country and kill virtually all the inhabitants. Would that have made you feel like a winner? Sick!

  6. Leslie
    October 9, 2017 at 5:47 pm

    I a m a VN Vet. Watonga years for my claim to be heard. Take carry of Vet’s First

  7. October 9, 2017 at 6:47 pm

    I was exposed to agent orange in danang and ran into people I knew from stateside who fixed the spray a/c the c-123….then they gave them to transport and I worked on them…not for the whole 18 months I was there but walked all over the place in danang….govt.knew about this since 1947….if the Italian doctor from seveseo,had not blew off the lid off our dirty govt this story would be called a lie….daughter,grandson have skin problems and she has many auto immune diseases…this is not a joke and it’s all true…Americans are never told the truth…all lies….for a dollar…

    • October 9, 2017 at 6:49 pm

      Yes I have all weird ailments skin disbetes,aches,frozen fingers that don’t fully open etc

      • GMC
        October 10, 2017 at 12:09 pm

        Ya me too, have had bladder infections since I came back and the prostrate – well they said it was I was old – that was a long time ago – I’m not that old. I remember my A O test in 1980 in Elmendorf AFB in Anchorage { we had no VA in Ak prior} and they said circle all the places I was in Nam. I was in a roving outfit so I saw a lot of the country but they said Nope – you were in no places they sprayed – years later I got a hold of the real map and low and behold I was at 7 different sites/areas. I quit having any faith in the USG and of all my Nam friends thru the years maybe a few of us are still hangin in there. But the plan was to get rid of us all along. I left America and live in Russia – my closest friend was in Nam too – Russian Army – and he also has a hard time dealing with his outfit getting waxed by a spec. ops team in the Triangle. We all have stories but not many good – Endings.

    • R Davis
      October 11, 2017 at 5:51 am

      This practice of poisoning the water hole on the enemy is always a double whammy.
      They drink the same water – breathe the same air – eat the same contaminated foods & vaccinate their kids with live culture.
      And they are also infertile.
      This brag that they have the nukes & therefore they rule the world is true … as they slowly fade into the ether along with the rest of us..
      No one is Superman
      Our self appointed overlords will not mutate into non-destruct androids & live on to eternity.
      They may be the last to perish – then again they may not.
      The habit of shooting yourself in the foot is not very productive & yet they practice it often.

      It sounds like a children’s cautionary tale.

      Matilda told such dreadful lies
      It made on gasp & stretch ones eyes
      But Matilda came to a sticky end.

      • R Davis
        October 11, 2017 at 5:59 am

        Rich kids are avid drug users.
        Rehab facilities are habitually frequented by rich kids – they can afford to pay.
        But they are lucky to be alive you say.
        How’s that ?
        In that they have money to but more & better quality opiods to get shit faced on ?
        In Australia it is told by the help lines, that the legal profession are the most prolific cocaine addicts.
        Surely we all see this a a waste of life ?

  8. mike k
    October 9, 2017 at 7:25 pm

    Pretending that this atrocity was anything other that a vast chemical weapons attack was the lie that those perpetrating it sought to hide behind. Like the use of depleted uranium in Iraq and elsewhere, agent orange is among the many violations of international law that the “exceptional” nation feels entitled to use.

    • Xerxes
      October 10, 2017 at 11:23 am

      It was an experiment by which a stock of viable, surviving plant genomes was found among all the faunal that died. Sickening and evil.

    • October 10, 2017 at 12:01 pm

      Yours is one of the MOST TRUE statements here. Since too many Americans CAN’T (won’t?) face the truth of what we did to Vietnam, the endless wars continue. And Ken Burns-Lynn Novic did NOT help with their 18 hour EXCUSE-making documentary

  9. October 9, 2017 at 8:52 pm

    How do I contact the scientists? I have a boatload of info.

    • R Davis
      October 11, 2017 at 6:14 am

      to contact the scientists ?

      they have websites
      what would you say to them – they were all taught from fake & obsolete information in parrot fashion.
      they don’t know anything
      and they are incapable of intelligent deductive thought.

      Albert Einstein held that gravity was not unlike a rubber sheet in space & that the planets rolled around on it.
      How can gravity be a rubber sheet in space that the planets roll around on – please.
      String Theory is a spin off, of that rubbish.

      • October 13, 2017 at 4:29 pm

        i don’t mean lackeys of the corporations,there has to be people still involved with this shit,times beach missouri is closed due to it being used to keep dust down…

  10. October 9, 2017 at 9:18 pm

    I was exposed to Agent Orange during ‘66-‘67 as a helicopter pilot escorting helicopters spraying the chemical. We also were around where it was handled, sprayed, as well as other “rainbow chemicals” in the water and air fields. I have bladder cancer which is not on the AO presumptive list but should be. Thousands of Vietnam veterans are dying and suffering from this form of cancer. It is a travesty that bladder cancer has not been added to the list. We veterans should rightfully be compensated by the government for exposing us to this dreadful chemical.

  11. October 9, 2017 at 9:25 pm

    I’m a Viet Nam combat vet and an Agent Orange victim. Among my tasks as a combat loudspeaker team leader for 27 months in the 8th Psychological Operations Battalion, we chased the C-123’s that were spraying Agent Orange broadcasting words of reassurance to the Vietnamese civilians, telling them that the herbicides were safe, that the Viet Cong were lying about them causing all kinds of health effects because the VC didn’t want the foliar coverage removed that hid them from view.

    I disagree that much of the Agent Orange spraying accomplished that goal of opening up jungle to improve the ability to spot the enemy. Nearly all of the Agent Orange spraying was in deep jungle, many miles from roads that U.S. troops would travel on. It was more a matter of having the ability to do the spraying and the budget to do it. Little attention was paid to efficacy.

    After I escaped from the Army and 1-1/2 years of hospital time recovering, I eventually went to law school and spent my legal career suing chemical companies and other polluters that discharged “dioxin” into our nation’s waterways, usually representing downstream landowners. I also co-authored two regulatory histories of dioxins with my former wife, Carol Van Strum.

    The authors of this article have simplified things a bit over-much. “Dioxin” refers to a very large family of chemicals that each have two benzene rings with an oxygen bond. Those in which one or more of the carbon atoms have been substituted by one of the halogens are toxic, with the chlorine-substituted variety the most toxic. One of those, 2,3,7,8-tetrachlordibenzo-para-1,4-dioxin, commonly referred to as “TCDD” is the most toxic synthetic molecule discovered to date. In addition there are a couple of other large families of chemicals that are very similar, share many of TCDD’s toxic properties albeit in less toxic form, and have been shown to break down to the ultra-toxic TCDD through natural processes. The chlorinated variants do not occur in nature, notwithstanding a couple of preposterous studies by Dow Chemical claiming otherwise.

    Dioxins are fat-soluble and bioaccumulate and in some species bioconcentrate in living organisms. The higher you are in food chain, the higher your exposure. Dioxins are now ubiquitous in human tissues in industrialized nations, at toxic levels. Mother’s milk studies are particularly worrisome, with infants receiving a dose that caused multi-generational birth defects in test animals.

    In Viet Nam, TCDD was an unavoidable contaminant of the two herbicides that in mixture made up Agent Orange, the n-butyl esters of 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T. An early study demonstrated that both of those herbicides volatilize at 75.6 degrees Fahrenheit, and that due to the clumping of those molecules, carried off TCDD with them when they became lighter than air. Nighttime temperatures in Viet Nam were commonly below that temperature but higher than it during the day. So liftoff in the morning and waft on the breezes during the day, then dump to ground or seal level at night. The extent of the contamination in Viet Nam is perhaps best illustrated by a series of tests that found high levels of TCDD in crustaceans caught 15 miles off the coast of Viet Nam in the South China Sea. There is no scentific basis on which to conclude that only the veterans who served in the spray areas themselves were exposed and Congress eventually established a presumption that Viet Nam vets who suffered any of a wide range of symptoms had been exposed. Eventually that presumption was extended to cover veterans who had served in the Korean DMZ, which Agent Orange was also used.

    Other major sources of dioxin pollution include pulp and paper mills (and their paper products), wire reclamation facilities, municipal waste incinerators, and oil refineries. The only reasonable approach to removing these sources is to eliminate the use of elemental chlorine in commerce. All other precursor chemicals occur naturally. The Swedish government is well down that path but EPA has historically drug its feet on regulating dioxin pollution, with many related scandals under its belt.

    Studies of dioxin effects in the Vietnamese population are particularly damning. I agree that the U.S. should be doing far more to help the Vietnamese victims. But the Veterans Administration has yet to pay for any research on removing dioxins from veterans’ bodies, so the U.S. has little to offer other than treating symptoms as such.

  12. October 9, 2017 at 9:29 pm

    @ Zachary: “My first search was made to find the “half life” of Agent Orange in the environment, and I never did locate an answer to that.”

    The half life of the most toxic dioxin found in Agent Orange is on the same order as that of plutonium, in the billions of years. That is according to a National Bureau of Standards study, as I recall. It is a remarkably stable molecule.

  13. October 9, 2017 at 9:36 pm

    It is unbelievable how US propaganda pushes citizens to sleepwalk through history. The Burns-Novick documentary should definitely have included the issue of Agent Orange and other defoliants in Vietnam. To me, there’s no question of what is worse, bombs or chemicals; they’re all part of the same atrocity. Same old arrogance of the chemical companies and their lawyers to claim there’s no connection with diseases. Oh, yes, quite the exceptional nation!

    • Rita Chandler
      October 10, 2017 at 1:22 am

      The government took the bullet and moved heaven and earth to protect Monsanto. They also to my knowledge made it impossible to sue Monsanto unless something recently changed and Monsanto still denies any wrong doing and gets angry when asked about Agent Orange claiming they’ve moved on and making the world better with their GMO’s.

      • ger
        October 10, 2017 at 12:53 pm

        Glyphosate+Dicambia then add some orange dye to observe its drift ……! This (some say harmless) weed killer will likely go down in history as the worse inorganic biological attack ever carried out on humanity. It is so massive (and growing) there will not be evidence of its harm since everyone exposed directly or through the food supply will have ill effects. The sixth great extinction will have many killers beside climate change.

  14. Mrs. Carlos , Trinidad
    October 9, 2017 at 10:06 pm

    To those that allowed this chemicals out while Dad’s our Husbands, Sons ,Daughter, Uncles ect …ect…I hope you can sleep at night.My husband can’t breath without problems and oxgn.can’t walk, twitches to his legs, Can’t swallow without choking, get. Blisters to his legs every 3 months,is limited to walk….and last but not list he has a Bag in the front of his stomach,on account of his intestance have deteriorated forever. No reverse…….Oh…..He. safed a Commanding Officer and Buddy of they’res while gunning Burning the Tank on fire,that I didn’t find out til , years later, they still refuse to give my Carlos his hearing aids, Oh excuse me cause he defaulted on his MedicalBills , after he was forgotten for 26 or more years ?and dong6 ask us about the son we had, They were never told me I’d might have a infected child with this……….ECT….ECT…. Question? wouldn’t the people that would go clean this get infected?

    • Rita Chandler
      October 10, 2017 at 1:25 am

      They would be in full hazmat suits and knowing our government they would hire Monsanto pay them billions to clean up the mess they helped cause and it would not be cleaned up

  15. Rosemary Moffat
    October 10, 2017 at 1:57 am

    The V.A. may pay out billions to affected vets, but thousands more vetsare suffering the consequences of this vile poison and can’t get thru the red tape. My Vietnam vet husband suffers from prostate cancer, diabetes, neuropathy, heart and balance problems. They said he qualified for compensation, but have lost his paperwork multiple times — and he had to start the lengthy process all over. My husband is now 69 and may never see a penny due to V.A. incompetence. I say help our American soldiers first!

    • October 10, 2017 at 4:19 pm

      We found that we received a lot of help and support from representatives from the DAV and your local congressman. Sounds like your husband should be 100% disability with the issues he has had to face especially with prostate cancer and diabetes and heart problems. Don’t give up – he deserves to get benefits which will also help you in the long run. I know it takes time but force the issue and get in touch with someone at the DAV with backup from your local representatives. Good luck with this.

  16. Xerxes
    October 10, 2017 at 10:37 am

    A crime against humanity perpetrated by cowardly white, anglo-saxon men. Who would even think about doing such a dispicable deed?Well, among this upstanding group of Americans, it seems there are plenty. Genocide is easy for these gouls, and the American population actually goes along with their hideous schemes, to the tune of hundreds of billion of the dollars a year. The whole country, including every single voting American, should be held accountable.

  17. Glen Wheeler
    October 10, 2017 at 4:00 pm

    Agent Orange was also used in Nakom Phenom, known as NKP. IN THAILAND. I saw it in the C123 in which i worked on.i have not neen able to prove this to THE VA. Can i get any help from this site

  18. October 10, 2017 at 4:07 pm

    My husband was in VietNam in 1969 and has several Agent Orange issues including Prostate Cancer PTSD and COPD . My grandsons were born with several medical problems that they cannot pin on any known disability. The youngest grandson has holes in his heart and delayed growth mentally and physically. He has had several operations since his was born 6 years ago.Their out of pocket medical expenses were in excess of $80,000. His grandfather on his mother’s side (her Dad) died young of an aggressive lung cancer – diagnosed in June and he died that October. He was special OPPS in Vietnam. His wife did have miscarriages before my daughter-in-law was conceived. These boys have both grandfathers that were exposed to Agent Orange in VietNam. Is an epi study being done on the children and grandchildren of these exposed vets to see if they should receive benefits for their medical care? It seems unfair to just narrow it down to cerebral palsy as the only covered medical condition when I think their cells had to be affected since the cells mutated in our vets. Let me know if you know of any such study. Thank you.

  19. Tim Hayes
    October 10, 2017 at 4:28 pm

    I was in Vietnam in 1968 along the DMZ and now have prostrate cancer and a son with Autism a neurological disorder. The VA has taken care of me but many of my brothers had skin disorders cancers and other disorders such as Parkinson’s. The companies that created this nightmare for profit are still at it either production of more toxic chemicals to be sprayed on crops and water in the soil to be in mother’s breast milk.

  20. L Scotti
    October 10, 2017 at 4:52 pm

    My husband served in Danang, where he was exposed to Agent Orange. He served with pride but at 64 he died from Parkinson Disease and Lewi Body Dementia. He did receive some compensation for his illness but the most troubling to him was when the VA administration
    Infatically told him he would have to stay alive for 10 years, after the time of his diagnosis, for his family to continue to receive compensation after his death.
    Needless to say he didn’t survive 10 years. So tell me
    VA, how many vets have survived 10 years after a devastating illness has been diagnosed? Answer this question, how do the families survive financially, after the lost of a loved , when all the compensation money has gone to the vets care. Many family members give up their jobs to be the caregiver.
    Where’s the income coming from after the vets have died and jobs have been given up. Tell me really, how many vets exposed to Agent Orange, have survive 10 years after such crippling diseases have been diagnosed. How can you but a price tag on survival?
    My husband served his country with honor but his families sacrifice means nothing to the VA. The families should receive compensation without a price tag on the Vets survival of 10 years.

  21. Tony
    October 10, 2017 at 5:08 pm

    Many people do not know it but agent orange was also used in Korea from 1969 to 1971 all in the DMZ zone

    • October 10, 2017 at 5:38 pm

      You are 100% correct .thousands were exposed. Many are not aware. I know because I proved my case to the VA and won ,along with several other. Veterans in my unit, which the government acknowledged in writing that we were EXPOSED . Still fighting health conditions.

  22. October 10, 2017 at 5:28 pm

    This article FAILS to mention that Rainbow Herbicides were also used from 1968 to 1971 along the South Korea’s DMZ area and has poisoned thousands of American veterans. The government also kept this a secret until it was eventually leaked near 40 years later

  23. Mel Thompson
    October 10, 2017 at 6:12 pm

    Strange how nothing is said about the use of agent Orange in the military bases in Thailand.

  24. Mel Thompson
    October 10, 2017 at 6:20 pm

    Agent orange was used to clear bases like Camp Vayama and Utapao Air Force base.

  25. Msgt Foster
    October 10, 2017 at 7:23 pm

    Bullshit. VETERANS DIRECTLY AND,SEVERELY EXPOSED TO AO ON GUAM FIRST. YOU ROTTEN SON OF A BITCHES. H.R. 809

  26. Edger Herber there 1976 to 2977
    October 10, 2017 at 9:48 pm

    Your article covers only the tip of the problems that agent orange has caused. look up operation Red Hat, Johnston Atoll, effected soldiers (all stationed there) Studies done by universities that DOE chose and DOE s coverup. Go online. a lot is there. JACADS was portal but no compensation for these soldiers. Nothing but coverups, lies – soldiers will die years after they leave the molitary; cheaper for the government.

  27. October 10, 2017 at 11:12 pm

    I’m second generation Agent Orange. I’m a textbook case. Still have no entitlements. I was born with two uteruses one kidney a sixth lumbar lupus chronic granulomatous disease acute mastoiditis and I’m living here on Skid Row in Los Angeles California off of $221 for general relief and I am not being treated right by my own country. It hurts my feelings I have been so emotionally abused through all of this. God help us all that have been exposed. It’s a living nightmare that I never seem to be able to wake up from. I don’t know what is worse having all of the stores and all of the extra organs being born congenitally and genetically different. Or the mental abuse I had to endure in the middle of all of it. God bless us all

    • October 13, 2017 at 4:26 pm

      if it was god in the mix then we would never of been there to begin with,my daughter and grand son have unexplained illnesses,it a fact that we have passed it on to our offspring but crummy pols are too busy lining their own pockets in d.c.

  28. Phil Lockit
    October 10, 2017 at 11:27 pm

    I am still a disgruntled Vet with issues for my child which as not been put on the list. Bi-Polar is a neurological disease. I presently have Diabetes Type II and neuropathy as well as being insulin dependent. I also suffer from my multiple fragmentation wounds.

  29. David A. Brower
    October 11, 2017 at 1:54 am

    I was diagnosed with CLL 14 years ago, have suffered 4 strokes, including prostate cancer, all of which are on the A/O roster. I was on land in DaNang three times, but have been denied by the VA. Kids are running the show, not Veterans.

    • Ian
      October 11, 2017 at 2:28 pm

      I find it interesting to read the comments from vets. Given the horrible problems they report, you would have thought at least one or two of them would have given some thought to the comparable plight of the significantly larger number of Vietnamese who continue to be afflicted today. But hey, this is America. Who cares about the suffering it imposes on the rest of the world!

      • October 12, 2017 at 5:24 pm

        I noticed the same.
        The fact that they were there, killing others, made them accomplices, but it does not seem to matter. If the VA would pay for their injuries, all would be well.
        The “others” don’t exist.

  30. Maureen Foley
    October 12, 2017 at 5:36 pm

    My late husband, Linn Booth was in the marines 1966 to 1969 and did three tours in Vietnam. He passed Dec 16, 2003, cancer caused by agent Orange of his lungs, liver and brain.

  31. Peedee Wyre
    October 21, 2017 at 6:19 am

    That picture of a helicopter spraying AO (actually available as a 2’x3′ poster from Amazon) is from the 336th Assault Helicopter Company, one of two AHCs based at Soc Trang in the Mekong Delta (121st AHC was the other). I don’t know when that picture was taken, nor the one that I stumbled on, online, of a 121st chopper “rigged for spraying on Con Son Island.” There are also available books and CDs/ DVDs of Air Force documents and official (but no audio)) AF films of AO being handled (sloppily) at various airbase like Tan Son Nhut, Can Tho, Cam Ranh Bay and Danang, near where my brother served 1966-67, dead in 1985 from non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. I was diagnosed with it in 2010, 41 years after spending 1968-69 at Soc Trang Army Airfield.
    .
    The V.A. has taken good care of my lymphoma, 6-1/2 years in ongoing chemotherapy later. It did take them 20 months to honor my claim, but that’s on the VBA/ Benefits side of the VA; the VHA/ Health side is fantastic, great people, great system. There is no amount of money that is worth having cancer, but I do get a monthly check which I consider to be ‘blood money,’ so I give away as much as possible to charities and people and causes… and I sure as hell can’t take it with me!!
    .
    Vietnam is beautiful. I would love to go back if I can get a break from chemotherapy and gather more strength. I think about why we there, what we were doing and what effect it had on the Vietnamese… and I still do. I’ve read 50+ books and seen many movies and documentaries about Vietnam. But AO gets short shrift in anything written after the ’60s, especially as regards the Vietnamese who are 3+ generations after the spraying and still having birth defects. A Vietnamese Jesuit takes two teams with him twice a year, a surgical team that has become specialized in repairing the babies born with no anuses. ? The other team observes VN medical practices and trade techniques with each other. I also think about the orphans and the outcasts who are half-American. How dishonorable of Nixon to promise a few billion and then nothing. I love my country but we have much to apologize for in so many ways for so many reasons to so many people and nations.

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