Friday, February 7, 2014

AGENT Orange

“Agent Orange” was the code name used for a powerful herbicide employed by the U.S. military during the VIETNAM War. The name derives from an orange band painted around metal drums that contained the product. Although initially developed in the 1940s, it was not seriously tested for application in tropical climates until the early 1960s. By 1971, when its use was discontinued, an estimated 20 million gallons of Agent Orange were sprayed in Vietnam, either by hand or (more commonly) in mass drops from aircraft. (The motto of one airborne chemical unit: “Only You Can
Prevent Forests.”)
Agent Orange Victim
Agent Orange was a 50–50 mix of two chemicals, commonly known as 2,4–D and 2,4,5–T. The combined product was mixed with kerosene or diesel fuel before dispersal in widespread      “deforestation” campaigns. A variant form (dubbed “Orange II” or “Super Orange”), used in Vietnam during 1968–69, combined chemicals 2,4–D and 2,4,5–T. Early health concerns surrounding Agent Orange focused on contamination of the product with TCDD, a form of dioxin related to the  dibenzofurans and pcb’s. Some dioxins occur in nature and may be harmless, but TCDD has produced a wide variety of diseases in lab testing on animals, including several ailments fatal to

Beginning in the late 1960s, Vietnamese natives complained that Agent Orange and other military
defoliants were killing livestock and producing birth deformities in humans. The Pentagon ignored those claims and likewise struck a pose of denial in the postwar years when U.S. veterans displayed abnormally high rates of cancer and other diseases linked to TCDD exposure. Finally, on January 23, 2003, the Veteran Affairs Department acknowledged a link between Agent Orange and chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), granting an extension of government benefits to veterans suffering from that disease.

Speaking for the government, Secretary Anthony Principi said, “It’s sad that we have to presume service connection, because we know that [veterans] have cancer that may have been caused by their battlefield service. But it’s the right thing to do.” And while the “right thing” came too late for veterans who died of CLL and similar diseases prior to 2003, Veterans Affairs (VA) doctors announced their expectation of finding 500 new CLL cases per year among Vietnam vets.
Agent Orange effect

At the time of the VA’s belated announcement, 10,000 Vietnam survivors were under treatment for
illness related to Agent Orange, Super Orange, or the 13 other defoliants widely used during the Asian war. The other compounds, all used between 1962 and 1964, included: “Blue” (cacodylic acid), Bromacil, Dalapon, Dinoxol (mixing 2,4–D and 2,4,5–T), Diquat, Diuron, “Green” (2,4,5–T), Monuron, “Pink” (2,4,5–T), “Purple” (2,4–D and 2,4,5–T), Tandex, Trinoxol (2,4,5–T), and “White” (a formulation of Picloram and 2,4–D).