Agent Orange Essay, Research Paper
Just saying the name Agent Orange gets the attention of every Vietnam veteran, and I dare say most of the Australian and American public, not to mention the Vietnamese. It has been argued about, written about, researched and debated, published in magazines and newspapers, talked about on radio and television. It was the subject of documentaries, legal battles, and in Australia a Royal Commission that lasted some two years and cost 3.8 million dollars.
Agent Orange was the code name for a herbicide developed for the military, primarily for use in tropical climates. Although the genesis of the product goes back to the 1940?s, serious testing for military applications did not begin until the early 1960?s.
The purpose of the product was to deny an enemy cover and concealment in dense terrain by defoliating trees and shrubbery where the enemy could hide. The product ?Agent Orange? (a code name for the orange band that was used to mark the drums it was stored in) was principally effective against broad-leaf foliage, such as the dense jungle-like terrain found in Southeast Asia.
The product was tested in Vietnam in the early 1960?s, and was brought into ever widening use during the height of the war in 1967-68, though it?s use was diminished and eventually discontinued in 1971.
Agent Orange was a 50-50 mix of two chemicals, known conventionally as 2,4,D and 2,4,5,T. the combined product was mixed with kerosene or diesel
fuel and dispersed by aircraft, vehicle, and hand spraying. An estimated 19 million gallons of Agent Orange were used in South Vietnam during the war.
The earliest health concerns about Agent Orange were about the product?s contamination with TCDD, or dioxin. TCDD is one of a family of dioxins, some found in nature, and are cousins of dibenzofurans and PCB?s.
Dioxin is formed by burning chlorine-based chemical compounds with hydrocarbons. The major source of dioxin in the environment (95%) comes from incinerators burning chlorinated wastes. Dioxin pollution is also affiliated with paper mills, which use chlorine bleaching in their process and with the production of Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) plastics.
The TCDD that can be found in Agent Orange is thought to be harmful to man. In laboratory tests on animals, TCDD has caused a wide variety of diseases, many of them fatal. TCDD is not found in nature, but rather is a man-made and is always an unwanted byproduct of the chemical process of manufacturing of certain herbicides, bactericides, wood preservatives, and other products. It is believed by many scientists to be the most toxic of all synthetic chemicals. It was first identified as a contaminant in 1957, but not recognized as a major public hazard until the mid 1970?s. The Agent Orange used in Vietnam was later found to be extremely contaminated with TCDD. The Agent Orange in
Vietnam was contaminated in amounts from 0.05 to almost 50 parts per million, with the most common contamination being 2 parts per million (ppm). This contamination resulted in an estimated 368 pounds of dioxin sprayed over Vietnam in a six-year period. The results of this large amount of dioxin being dropped on Vietnam are everlasting, and the people who encountered extreme contact with the chemical will always have shocking reminders of what they experienced in Vietnam.
The term “Agent Orange” was at the time merely one of several used to identify various herbicides used in Vietnam. Others included Agents White, Blue, Purple, Pink and Green. Agent Orange was used in by far the largest quantities in Vietnam.
Agricultural research in the quest for synthetic herbicides has been on going since the 1930’s. Classified military research on herbicides took place throughout World War II, primarily at Ft. Detrick, Maryland. It was not until the 1950’s; however, that effective herbicides began to be developed (effective in the sense that they would destroy a variety of types of plants). The first tests of what was to become Agent Orange (a mixture of the chemicals 2,4,D and 2,4,5,T took place at Camp Drum, New York in 1959. The first operational field tests in Vietnam took place in 1961. Other testing programs were also conducted at
Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, Camp Drum in New York, and through out parts of Thailand from 1964-65.
The primary service responsible for the application of Agent Orange was the U.S. Air Force. Project “Hades” eventually became Operation ?Ranchhand?,
Who?s motto became “Only we can prevent forests”. From 1962 through 1964, tests were made by our military forces spraying Agents Orange, White, and Blue. In 1965, ?Ranchhand? had sprayed almost 19 million gallons of Agent Orange dioxin on the vegetation and the unfortunate people below. However, the total amount will never be known, as the Army, Navy, and Marines also sprayed untold quantities of these poisonous chemicals.
The results were that the vegetation was indeed devastated, but, at the same time, serious illness, death, and destruction were brought to the bodies of those unknowing members of our own fighting forces, those of other nations, and the civilian populace of Vietnam. It is now known that the dioxin not only saturated the people that were unfortunate enough to be sprayed, but also found its way into the water system and onto the crop areas, and eventually entered the bodies of others who were completely unaware of their exposure and the deadly consequences that were ahead of them.
Many different types of defoliants were tested for their use during the Vietnam War; these are just a few of the dozens experimented with during the war:
PURPLE: A formulation of 2,4,-D and 2,4,5,-T used between 1962 and 1964.
GREEN: Contained 2,4,5-T and was used 1962-1964.
PINK: Contained 2,4,5-T and was used 1962-1964.
ORANGE: A formulation of 2,4,-D and 2,4,5-T used between 1965 and 1970.
WHITE: A formulation of Picloram and 2,4,-D.
BLUE: Contained cacodylic acid.
ORANGE II: A formulation of 2,4,-D and 2,4,5-T used in 1968 and 1969 (also sometimes referred to as “Super Orange”)
DINOXOL: A formulation of 2,4,-D and 2,4,,5-T. Small quantities were tested in Vietnam between 1962 and 1964.
TRINOXOL: Contained 2,4,5-T. Small quantities tested in Vietnam 1962-1964.
Fifteen different herbicides were shipped to and used in Vietnam between January 1962 and September 1971. Over 80 percent of the herbicides sprayed in Vietnam was Agent Orange, which was used between January 1965 and April 1970. Herbicides other than Agent Orange were used in Vietnam prior to 1965, but to a very limited extent. The total area sprayed with herbicides between 1962 and 1965 was small, less than 7 percent of the total acreage sprayed during the Vietnam War. Rapid increases in the annual number of acres sprayed occurred from 1962 to 1967. The number of acres sprayed reached a maximum
in 1967, leveled off slightly in 1968 and 1969, and declined rapidly in 1970 prior to the termination of spraying in 1971. During this time more than 20 million gallons of herbicides were sprayed over 6 million acres (approximately 19 of the twenty gallons sprayed was the Agent Orange herbicide), most of the land sprayed was sprayed more than once. More than 3.5 million acres of South Vietnam (approximately 8.5 percent of the country) were sprayed one or more times. Spraying occurred in all 4 military zones of Vietnam.
Heavily sprayed areas included inland forests near the demarcation zone; inland forests at the junction of the borders of Cambodia, Laos, and South Vietnam; inland forests north and northwest of Saigon; mangrove forests on the southernmost peninsula of Vietnam; and mangrove forests along major shipping channels southeast of Saigon. Crop destruction missions were concentrated in northern and eastern central areas of South Vietnam
Most Agent Orange was sprayed from Hercules C-123 Providers, specially equipped with spray booms to spray the herbicide. These ?fixed wing? missions were carefully recorded on computer tapes known as the ?Herbs Tapes?.
U.S. Army Chemical Corps, primarily from specially equipped UHI ?Huey? helicopters performed other spray missions, (particularly near base camp perimeters). Spraying form both truck and backpacks were utilized along
roadways. The Navy also sprayed riverbanks from small PBR-type boats. These spray missions were recorded on computer tapes known as the ?Service Herbs Tapes?.
After a scientific report in 1969 concluded that the primary chemical dioxin, used in Agent Orange could cause birth defects in laboratory animals, use of the herbicide was suspended. All U.S.-authorized herbicide use in Vietnam was halted in 1971. As the decade wore on, concern about possible long-term health consequences of Agent Orange and other herbicides heightened, fueled in part by reports from Vietnam veterans that they had developed cancer or fathered handicapped children. Some veterans attributed these health problems to wartime exposure to herbicides.
Since then, thousands of scientific studies have been conducted. Faced with lingering uncertainty, Congress asked the National Academy of Sciences
Institute of Medicine to conduct a comprehensive review of available scientific information regarding the health effects of exposure to Agent Orange and other herbicides used in Vietnam.
Studies find that TCDD elicits a diverse spectrum of biological sex, strain, age, and species-specific effects; including carcinogenicity, immunotoxicity, reproductive/developmental toxicity, hepatotoxicity, neurotoxicity, chloracne, and loss of body weight. These effects vary according to the age, sex, species, and
strain of the animals involved. To date, the scientific consensus is that TCDD is not genotoxic and that its ability to influence the carcinogenic process is mediated via epigenetic events such as enzyme induction, cell proliferation, apoptosis, and intracellular communication.
Children born to Vietnam veterans exposed to Agent Orange may have a greater risk of being born with Spina Bifida, a serious birth defect, according to the latest scientific review of health problems linked to the use of herbicides and dioxin.
The findings have prompted the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to seek legislation that would provide an appropriate remedy to help the estimated 3,000 children afflicted with the congenital abnormality.
According to a report by the Institute of Medicine (IOM), there is evidence supporting the association between chemicals used for defoliation during the
Vietnam War and the above average rate of children of Vietnam veterans born with a deformity of the spine or spinal cord.
The health effects of dioxins have gotten more attention than the ecological effects. How did dioxin exposure affect the 3 million U.S. soldiers who served in Vietnam? According to the Committee to Review the Health Effects in Vietnam Veterans of Exposure to Herbicides, part of the U.S. Institute of Medicine that was assigned to study the issue, there is strong evidence that
dioxin causes three cancers: soft-tissue sarcoma, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and Hodgkin’s disease, and the skin diseases chloracne and PCT (chloracne is a specific acne-like skin disorder, and PCT is a liver disorder characterized by thinning and blistering. The committee also found suggestive links between Agent Orange and three other cancers: respiratory cancer, prostate cancer, and multiple myeloma.
Certain cancers, diseases, and disorders that were before linked to exposure of Agent Orange didn?t have enough or adequate evidence that would prove that they were linked to Agent Orange spraying.
Limited or Suggestive Evidence. There has been found limited or suggestive evidence of an association between exposure to herbicides of the kind used in Vietnam and three other cancers: respiratory cancers, prostate cancer, and multiple myeloma.
* Inadequate Evidence. The scientific data for most cancers and other diseases, such as adverse neurological and reproductive effects, were inadequate or
insufficient to determine whether an association exists.
* No Association. For a small group of cancers, it has been found that a sufficient number and variety of well-designed studies exist to conclude that there is limited or suggestive evidence of no association between these cancers and the herbicides or dioxin. This group includes skin cancer, gastrointestinal tumors (colon, rectal, stomach, and pancreatic), bladder cancer, and brain tumors.
First was denial that it was used at all, then denial that it was sprayed on American soldiers, and of course always denial that it had any ill effects. The ultimate decision was that their illness was caused by stress, although cancer,
from which some veterans are suffering, may result from chemicals to which some veterans were exposed. Ultimately it comes down to the simple fact that veterans were not believed about their exposures in Vietnam Whatever the case, and we are never going to get total agreement, credit should be given for recently allowing veterans with cancer to receive treatment without having to argue their individual case. They have not recognized a link between the chemicals and cancer, but have done the next best thing, and in the end that is what the veteran needs…..Treatment.
Distrust though is still there. Distrust because it took so long to get treatment, many veterans died of cancers believing that Agent Orange caused it. One of the first was Colin Simpson, who applied for benefits from the Commonwealth Government in 1980. He applied under the repatriation act of 1920, and claimed his cancer resulted from exposure to toxic chemicals during his time in Vietnam. Colin died, but his wife continued on with his claim helped by
The Vietnam Veterans Association of America, she was ultimately successful. Veterans of course presumed that this would set a precedent, but that was not the case. Every veteran with cancer would have to prove a link before they could receive any treatment. Many died of course without being able to do that.
Agent Orange was used in Vietnam, but when they finished using it overseas they had plenty of Agent Orange left over. One way they got rid of
Agent Orange was selling it to the a state agency called Texas Surplus Agency, which in turn sold it to other state agency?s. One of these agencies was Sabine River Authority in Rains Co. People got hurt or died just to cover up their big mistake that Kelly AFB Made.
On January 30, 1990 the Texas Water Commission District 8 Office received a complaint call form Mr. Glen Wilkinson. Mr. Wilkinson stated that around 1978 he was at the Texas Surplus Property Agency located at 2103 Ackerman Road in San Antonio buying materials for the school district he was working for at the time. Mr. Wilkinson stated that he had observed the burial of drums on the site. Mr. Wilkinson stated that he believed that the drums he observed being buried contained surplus Agent Orange from the U.S. Military. The writer informed Mr. Wilkinson that it would be very difficult to substantiate the complaint with out some type of physical evidence. He was informed that some type of physical examination of the disposal area would be required to obtain the necessary proof.
Mr. Wilkinson contacted the District 8 Office again on February 21, 1990 and provided Henry Karnei with a more detailed description of the location of the buried drums.
On February 27, 1990 the writer conducted an inspection of the Texas Surplus Property Agency site. Marvin Titzman (executive director) represented
the Texas Surplus Property Agency. Mr. Titzman stated that although the agency had handled surplus Agent Orange and other surplus pesticides at the facility, none of the material was ever buried. He stated that nothing had ever been buried at the facility. Mr. Titzman stated that he was unwilling to spend any of the agency?s funds to search for buried drums but that the Texas Water Commission was free to conduct any type of search as long as the site was left in good condition.
Inspection of the storage yard of the Texas Surplus Property Agency on February 27, 1990 did not uncover any physical evidence that any waste was buried on-site. Over the next three months options were discussed with Mr. Wilkinson as to the best method to gather physical evidence to substantiate his complaint.
Mr. Wilkinson says that the 50 to 200 drums of Agent Orange and other toxic waste that he saw being buried in 1979 at Texas Surplus Property Agency were still there in 1990. When in 1990 he got to go on to the property, when he
arrived he picked up metal in the ground with a metal detector. Then he re-got permission to go on the property and two months later he picked up 22 more hot spots in the parking lot at 2103 Ackerman Rd, in San Antonio in Guadalupa County.
Mr. Wilkinson states that if you go to the southeast corner of the property then by counting the metal fence posts going toward the southwest fence post, counting from the first post and going down to the 35th post, you should be in the middle of the storage lot. At the 35th fence post go 15 feet north from the south fence, and dig down 15 feet, there you will find buried drums!
He says that when this site is uncovered, it will prove that the city of Dallas was contaminated with Agent Orange, because it will prove that Agent Orange was being sold to Sabine River Authority and that what he saw was true.
Agent Orange has effected the lives of millions of people, the people that had the bad fate to be exposed to this deadly chemical had families and they felt, as much if not more pain than the people contaminated than you would think. Agent Orange was one of the most irresponsible things this country has ever put into action, they tested it before it was put to use, and they saw that it was harmful, but they used it anyway. Because of the irresponsibility of the government, thousands of U.S. soldiers gave their lives to something that was intentionally used to affect the ?bad guys?. Now millions of people have large deep wholes in their souls; they?ve lost a family member or friend due to a side effect of a chemical used to give the U.S. soldiers the upper hand, they now have to learn to cope with their losses, while they government is still probably producing new, and more harmful chemicals, with the intent of using them harmfully. In my opinion, these practices, if not altered will lead to the words end.
1. Dioxin, Agent Orange: The Facts
Michael Gough, 1986
2. Dioxins & Agent Orange: Index of New Information w/ Clinical And Research Results
Jerome W. Shawn, 1995
3. Waiting For an Army To Die: the Tragedy of Agent Orange
Fred A. Wilcox, 1989
4. Agent Orange & the Vietnam Veteran: An Annotated Bibliography
Caroline D. Harnley, 1985
5. Veterans & Agent Orange: Update 1996