In the American effort to fight an invisible enemy who hid in the jungles while living of the land, some 5 million acres (7,813 square miles) of mangrove and upland forest were defoliated, while 500,000 acres (781 square miles) of crops were destroyed. Cambodia and Laos were sprayed and affected to a lesser extent. Much of this destruction will not be rectified for decades to come, even though the herbicidal components of Agent Orange—which did not directly affect people—dissipated soon after the spraying.
However, two-thirds of these herbicides were contaminated with TCDD, a form of dioxin—a highly toxic substance linked to at least 15 classes of cancer and other medical conditions, as well as several birth defects. The toll on the Vietnamese may continue for generations, even though the dioxin contaminant may eventually be cleansed from the “hot spots” remaining in parts of southern Vietnam to this day.
So, ever since the spraying, the Vietnamese have been saddled with an invisible enemy of their own. As have those who served in Vietnam during the war, their families, and many others who were exposed to the toxic herbicides where they were manufactured, used or stored.
Vietnam today is no enemy, but one of America’s strongest Asian allies. Yet the dioxin from Agent Orange is placing a new generation at risk on both sides of the Pacific. The newly cooperative relationship between the two countries lets us work together to address the ongoing health and environmental impacts of Agent Orange.
The Agent Orange Record tries to show, in an objective way, the complete story of the Vietnam War’s most devastating defoliant: its history; its impact, intended and otherwise, on Vietnam; and its completely unintended impact on the United States. The Record also describes the efforts to repair the damage from the herbicides to the land and to the people of Vietnam, to the United States, and to the other places that the toxic legacy of Agent Orange remains.
By providing the first online comprehensive examination of the Agent Orange problem, we hope to promote greater understanding and an appropriate response for all those who have been affected by the tragic legacy of this deadly chemical. We can Make Agent Orange History, as in this video.
Agent Orange. A humanitarian cause we can do something about.