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In 1966, 29 American scientists protested the use of the AO/dioxin herbicide by the U.S. in Vietnam

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Dioxin is the most toxic and most durable chemical mankind has developed so far. Its half-life is very long. The scientific community has agreed that dioxin causes cancers, terrible deformities, birth defects and many other ailments.

In 1966, 29 American scientists protested the use of the AO/dioxin herbicide by the U.S. in Vietnam because AO couldn’t distinguish enemy solders from innocent people. They called for the U.S. Army to study the short- and long-term effects of the chemicals used in Vietnam . Over 5,000 American scientists asked President Johnson to stop using herbicides in Vietnam . Nevertheless, the chemicals continued to be used there.
At the beginning of the 1970s, the Herbicide Assessment Commission (HAC) – a scientific body – sent a group of experts to Vietnam to investigate the effects of the herbicides, especially AO/dioxin, on the environment and humans. After the trip, they asked the U.S. government to stop the use of the herbicides in Vietnam because these chemicals destroyed mangrove forests and caused miscarriages and birth defects. The culprit was the dioxin contained in AO. This conclusion conformed to the results of experiments on animals. It means that the U.S. was quite aware of the negative effects of the herbicides, AO in particular, on the environment and humans. At the beginning of 1970, 2, 4, 5-T (a key AO ingredient) was banned for use in agriculture in the U.S. because it could cause cancers, but the U.S. did not stop using it in Vietnam until 1971, and it allowed the South Vietnamese army to continue to use it until the end of the war, April 30, 1975.
1> What is Agent Orange?
2> What is Dioxin?
3> Where it comes from?
4> Why is Agent Orange dangerous?
5> How much dioxin has been sprayed in Vietnam?
6> What are effects of Dioxin?
7> How many people have been exposed to herbicides in Vietnam?

1> What is Agent Orange?

It was the herbicide most heavily used by the American army during the Vietnam War. Herbicides were used to defoliate forests (to prevent the Viet Cong from hiding), to clear military areas and to destroy enemy crops. Agent Orange is actually pink-brownish. Its name comes from the orange-colored bands that appeared on the drums in which Agent Orange was stored. Other herbicides used by the US army include Agents White, Blue, Pink, Green and Purple.

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2> What is Dioxin?

Dioxin is a by-product of the manufacture, molding, or burning of organic chemicals and plastics that contain chlorine. It is the nastiest, most toxic man-made organic chemical. Dioxin made headlines several years ago at places such as Love Canal , where hundreds of families needed to abandon their homes due to dioxin contamination, and Times Beach, Missouri , a town that was abandoned as a result of dioxin. Unfortunately, dioxin has now entered our food supply, primarily in meat, fish and milk.

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3> Where it comes from?

The process required to create Dioxin is rather simple, all that is needed are three common ingredient. The first is a material containing a sample of Chlorine. Chlorine is a widely used chemical that can be found in thousands of products ranging from bleaches, plastic, and personal hygiene product. The second ingredient is an organic substance such as wood, pulp or paper. And the third ingredient is a catalyst such as fire that creates the chemical reaction during which Dioxin is formed. The EPA (Environment Protection Agency), has identified incinerator and other combustion sources as being the largest emitters of Dioxin. These sources, including medical, garbage, and military incinerators account for over 90% of all Dioxin emissions. Another major source of Dioxin contamination is produced by pulp and paper manufacturers, which account for 7% of Dioxin emissions. However, a small percentage of Dioxin emissions remain unidentified, it is believed that this source includes accidental or natural sources such as house fires, cars and torches.

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4> Why is Agent Orange dangerous?

Two thirds of the herbicides used during the Vietnam war, notably Agent Orange (but not only Agent Orange), contained 2, 4, 5-trichlorophenoxyacetic acid for its defoliation abilities. But the production process of that acid was such that the 2, 4, 5-T acid obtained was more or less contaminated with an extremely toxic substance: the infamous 2, 3, 7, 8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD).

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5> How much dioxin has been sprayed in Vietnam?

The quantity of dioxin varied, depending on the herbicide and the manufacturer. According to the latest estimations, between 1961 and 1971, the US army has sprayed more than 300 kilograms of TCDD dioxin, mainly in the Southern and Central Vietnam, but also in Laos and Cambodia . To put things in perspective, the international health norms state that one person should not be exposed to more than pictograms of dioxin per day. A pictogram is a millionth of a millionth of a gram. More …

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6> What are effects of Dioxin?

Dioxin provokes cancers, foetal malformations, skin diseases… It also affects the immune system, the reproductive system and the nervous system.

* Birth defects.
* Fetal death.
* Impaired neurological development and subsequent cognitive deficits.
* Impaired neurological development and subsequent cognitive deficits.

Male reproductive toxicity:

* Reduced sperm count.
* Testicular atrophy.
* Abnormal testis structure.
* Reduced size of genital organs.
* Feminized hormonal responses
* Feminized behavioral responses

Female reproductive toxicity:

* Decreases fertility.
* Inability to maintain pregnancy.
* Ovarian dysfunction.
* Endometriosis.

Other effects:

* Organ toxicity (liver spleen, thymus, skin).
* Diabetes.
* Weight loss.
* Wasting syndrome.
* Altered glucose and fat metabolism.

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7> How many people have been exposed to herbicides in Vietnam?

According to the latest estimations, between 2.1 and 4.8 millions Vietnamese people were directly exposed to herbicides from 1961 to1971. One needs to add to this figure an unknown number of Cambodians, Laotians, American civilians and soldiers, and their various allies from Australia , Canada , New-Zealand and South-Korea. However, the total number of victims goes probably beyond because dioxin can be transmitted by contamination of the food chain: breast milk, cow milk, consumption of contaminated meat and fish.