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Effects Of Agent Orange During The Vietnam War

1068 words - 4 pages

On April 12, 1961, the first application of the chemical nicknamed Agent Orange was sprayed on Vietnamese foliage in an attempt to stop guerilla warfare, launching a herbicidal disaster ("Herbicidal Warfare"). The consequences of agent orange, unbeknownst to the former government officials, led to a series of catastrophic effects including, but not limited to neurobehavioral and physical anomalies of the human body. As a result of the lacking knowledge of Agent Orange, the United States and Vietnam are still cleaning up the herbicidal mess that could have been avoided (Magnuson). Decades later, scientific evidence proved that the use of the dioxin herbicide Agent Orange was linked to many physical and neurobehavior disorders (Poremba).
Agent orange became popularized during the Vietnam war when president John F. Kennedy sought radical solutions dealing with Guerilla Warfare (Poremba). He launched a mission called Operation Ranch Hand that lasted 9 years, ceasing in 1971 ("Agent Orange Cancer"). It was said that over 2.6 million soldiers were serving in Vietnam at the time of the mission. The shipments of the chemical arrived in Vietnam inside barrels
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wrapped in an orange identifying strip, coining the nick name 'Agent Orange' ("Agent
Orange and Cancer"). The chemical was sprayed from airplanes on trees, base perimeters, roadways, and communication lines. It was also sprayed by riverboats and trucks (committee, 74). Agent Orange is a dioxin herbicide containing Dichlorophenoxyacetic and Trichlorophenoxyacetic acids. "Dioxin is the most toxic and most durable chemical mankind has developed so far" ("Vietnamese"). Both acids are highly toxic and considered mutagens ("Toxipedia"). Trichlorophenoxyacetic is considerably more dangerous because it is linked to the majority of cancers and extreme birth defects supposedly caused by Agent Orange ("Toxipedia"). Only six years into the war, over 1.5 million acres of Vietnamese foliage were being sprayed annually by the United States Military (Poremba). Many did not even know that they were being exposed because the chemicals would seep into their skin ("Agent Orange Cancer"). A group of scientists began doing research on this highly dangerous herbicide. After an extensive and rigorous analysis of Agent Orange, scientists deemed it to be unsafe. It was estimated that over 5,000 scientists begged President Kennedy to stop the use of it in Vietnam ("Vietnamese"). Nevertheless, the chemicals were continued to be used there by the United States until the end of the Vietnam War.
According to Time Magazine U.S., Senior Official Dr. Vernon Houk and his agency succeeded at halting a $63 million dollar study that may have proved that people
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exposed to Agent Orange suffered severe ailments to the body. Houk claims that he stopped the study on purely scientific grounds. Nevertheless troops are still suffering from the effects of agent orange including high rates of cancers, abnormalities...

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