De-classified report on exposure to Agent Orange

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  1. AGENT ORANGE USAGE IN VIETNAM

Agent Orange was a 50:50 mixture of 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T. The latter component, 2,4,5-T, was found to contain the contaminant TCDD or 2,3,7, 8-tetrachlorodibenzo-para-dioxin (i.e. dioxin), which is regarded as one of the most toxic chemicals known to man.1

From 1962 to 1971 the United States military sprayed theherbicide Agent Orange to accomplish the following objectives:

    1 See CDC Protocol for Epidemiologic Studies on the Health of Vietnam Veterans (November, 1983), p. 4 ( The CDC Protocol also contains a literature review as of 1983 of the health effects on animals and humans exposed to herbicides and dioxin, pp. 63-78. The literature review documents health problems such as chloracne, immunological suppression, neurological and psychological effects, reproductive problems such as birth defects, carcinogenic effects such as soft tissue sarcomas, lymphomas and thyroid tumors, and various gastrointestinal disorders) ; See also General Accounting Office, “Report by the Comptroller General: Health Effects of Exposure to Herbicide Orange in South Vietnam Should Be Resolved,” GAO-CED-79-22 at 2 (April 6, 1979) (hereinafter GAO Report, 1979).

Dioxin is a family of chemicals (75 in all) that does not occur naturally, nor is it intentionally manufactured by any industry. The most toxic dioxin is called 2,3,7,8 — TCDD. Dioxins are produced as byproducts of the manufacture of some herbicides ( for example, 2,4, 5—T), wood preservatives made from trichlorophenals, and some germicides. Dioxins are also produced by the manufacture of pulp and paper, by the combustion of wood in the presence of chlorine, by fires involving chlorinated benzenes and biphenyls (e.g. PCBs), by the exhaust of automobiles burning leaded fuel, and by municipal solid waste incineratorsdefoliate jungle terrain to improve observation and prevent enemy ambush; 2) destroy food crops; and 3) clear Vegetation around military installations, landing zones, fire base camps, and trails 2

 

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