From 1962 to 1971, during the Vietnam War, the U.S. military sprayed a herbicide called Agent Orange to clear the tropical forest. Agent Orange was the most common herbicide used, and the source of its name was due to the orange identification strips used for the drums it was stored in.
Fact 1. Millions of gallons of Agent Orange were sprayed during the war raising concerns on the health impact of the chemical on the sprayers.
Fact 2. The active ingredients in Agent Orange consists of a combination of equal amounts of 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D) and 2,4,5-trichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4,5-T), which contained traces of 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD).
Fact 3. Agent Orange is supposed to dry quickly and disintegrate within hours when exposed to sunlight thereby losing its toxicity.
Fact 4. There have been concerns associated with exposure to Agent Orange including spina bifida (except for spina bifida occulta) which is a fetus defect that results in the incomplete closing of the spine.
Fact 5. The usage of Agent Orange was stopped in Vietnam when a lab study in 1970 found that 2,4,5-T could potentially cause birth defects. Vietnam veterans reported skin rashes, cancer, psychological symptoms, and birth defects which led to scientific studies and healthcare programs.
Fact 6. The Agent Orange Settlement Fund, which distributed $200 million to veterans from 1988 to 1996, was the result of a lawsuit filed against herbicide manufacturers in 1979.
Fact 7. The Agent Orange Act was passed by Congress in 1991 to enable an evaluation of the health effects of Agent Orange exposure.
Fact 8. The Agent Orange Act, which was updated in 2010, called Update 2010, is the 7th Congressional mandated biennial update recommending the Veteran Affairs (VA) to search for possible associations between Vietnam service and health outcomes and the early onset of peripheral neuropathy as not being necessarily transitory.
Fact 9. The Update 2010 recommends that further research is required to resolve health outcomes such as tonsil cancer, melanoma, brain cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and paternally transmitted effects to offspring.
Fact 10. Studies have indicated a possible link between acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) in children due to their fathers being exposed to Agent Orange.