Medical Aspects Of Exposure To Agent Orange

1331 words - 6 pages

History of Agent Orange
Agent Orange is a chemical defoliant introduced in agriculture in 1946 as an herbicide to aid farmers and was used accordingly throughout 1950, after which its production was switched solely for military uses under the Defense Production Act of 1950. Since then, even though ingredients were commercially available and accessible to the public, mass production became heavily regulated and only a handful of the US Chemical manufacturing companies were able to produce it. Agent Orange derives its name from the distinctive orange bands that were used by the military to mark Agent Orange storage containers in which it was transported, rather than from the color of the substance itself. British Military was the first to use Agent Orange in warfare in Malaya. Later, it was used by the US in the Republic of Vietnam from 1961 to 1971 during the Vietnam conflict. It was used as a defoliant and herbicide in Vietnam to deny the enemy use of jungle foliage, for cover and concealment, and to disrupt food production used to sustain the enemy force (Committee on Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans and Agent Orange Exposure. (2011). Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans and Agent Orange Exposure. The National Academies Press.).
Agent Orange is a dangerous pollutant that has caused countless birth defects and cancers in both the Vietnamese civilian populous and the U.S. military personnel that served on land and in brown-water navy units that were responsible for intercostal riverine operations in the Republic of Vietnam. The extent to which US military members were exposed to Agent Orange is still a matter of debate and congressional inquiries to this date over 40 years after its employment on the battlefield ended.
Agent Orange was created by mixing equal parts of two herbicides that were commercially available at the time: 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic Acid (2,4-D) and 2,4,5-trichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4,5-T). One of the reasons of this agent’s toxicity is its leftover byproduct: 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) CAS No. 1746-01-6 (Institute of Medicine (U.S.), 2012) - one of the most toxic substances known to men - from the manufacturing process.
Routes of Exposure and Target Organs
Dioxin by-product, and not basic unit of complex dioxins which is not PCDD toxic or persistent, can enter the human body through various ways - from inhalation to ingestion or absorption.
Inhalation of contaminated air, vapors or even steam would deliver poisonous particles into lungs and consequently into the blood stream. The blood stream is the quickest circulatory system for nutrients and harmful elements to move through the rest of the body. In the case of Dioxin poisoning, lungs can't rid themselves of airborne particles by coughing or engulfing with macrophages, as it would with non-soluble constituents.
Consuming contaminated food stocks and water can also ingest dioxin. Gastro Intestinal tract is vulnerable to soluble elements, thus Dioxin...

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