What is Agent Orange?
It is an herbicide used by U.S. forces to destroy the jungle providing cover to the Vietcong,a group of Communist guerillas who fought against South Vietnam and the United States.
Was Agent Orange the only herbicide used?
No,but it was the most popular one,making up 49 percent of all herbicides sprayed. Others were Agent White,Agent Blue,Agent Purple and Agent Pink.
How did they come up with the names?
The chemicals were named for colored stripe on the drums in which they were stored.
What is dioxin?
Dioxin is a chemical contained in Agent Orange and other herbicides. It is retained in fatty tissue and can affect organs and systems. After it has entered the body,dioxins remain for a long time due to the chemical's stability. In the environment,dioxins accumulate in the food chain.
What diseases are caused by dioxin?
The Department of Veteran Affairs has determined that the following diseases are most likely connected to exposure to herbicides.
- Chloracne: a skin condition that looks like common forms of acne that affect teenagers.
- Non-Hodgkins' Lymphoma: a term used to describe a group of malignant tumors that affect the lymph gland and other lymphatic tissue. The tumors are relatively rare and often fatal.
- Soft tissue sarcomas: several types of malignant tumors that arise from body tissues.
- Peripheral neuropathy: a nervous system condition that causes numbness,tingling and muscle weakness involving the nerves outside the brain and spinal cord.
- Hodgkin's Disease: a type of cancer that is characterized by progressive enlargement of the lymph nodes,liver and spleen,and by progressive anemia.
- Porphyria cutanea tarda: a disorder characterized by thinning and blistering of the skin in sun-exposed areas.
- Multiple myleoma: a type of cancer characterized by plasma cell tumors in bones in various parts of the body.
- Respiratory cancers: cancers of the lung,trachea,larynx and bronchus
- Prostate cancer: a cancer that is characterized by a slow growing tumor in the prostate; it is the second leading killer of men.
- Diabetes: High blood sugar levels that result from defects in the body's ability to produce hormone insulin or resistance to insulin.
- Chronic and lymphocytic leukemia: the most common type of the four primary types of leukemia; it is a slow moving disease that increases production of excessive white blood cells.
Does dioxin cause birth defects?
Yes and no. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs research completed to date,the overall answer is “apparently not.” However,the National Academy of Sciences found “limited/suggestive” evidence that spina bifida in children is connected to exposure to Agent Orange.
What is spina bifida?
It is a permanently disabling birth defect that occurs in one out of every 1,000 newborns in the U.S. It is caused by the failure of the spine to close properly during the first month of pregnancy.
Can you be exposed to dioxin in the United States?
Yes. The EPA says much of the U.S. population has been exposed at a level that can cause serious health effects. For the past 40 years,the U.S. has seen a dramatic increase in the manufacture and use of chlorinated organic chemicals and plastics (insecticides and PVC). When these products are manufactured or burned,dioxin is produced as a byproduct.
Is Agent Orange banned?
Yes. Agent Orange is a mixture of 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T. The mixture manufactured by the military is no longer in production. Also,2,4,5-T has been off the market since the 1970s. However,the other ingredient 2,4-D,is still sold as an herbicide.
The Department of Veteran Affairs,the World Health Organization,the Environmental Protection Agency