The impact of Agent Orange on the US to a certain extent parallels its effects in Vietnam. The population exposed to the chemical in Vietnam, by inhaling the vapors or touching the liquid, began to suffer an unusual incidence of suspicious diseases not long afterward, and that have mounted in number as the population has aged. This population, of course, is our Vietnam veterans.
Meanwhile, the children of Vietnam veterans have likewise suffered an unusual number of birth defects and similar disabilities, again suggesting the presence of dioxin in the genes and breast milk of those exposed. As with the Vietnamese, the final American victims of Agent Orange are yet unborn.
And then there are the first victims of 2,4,5-T, affected by dioxin during the manufacture of the herbicide.
The US Government enlisted many companies to produce Agent Orange and the other herbicides during the Vietnam War. The firm most associated with this activity in the public imagination was Dow, which became a lightning rod for War protests generally.
“Thousands, including me, are alive today because of Agent Orange.”
– Lt Elmo Zumwalt IV, “My Father, My Son,” 1986.
While the herbicidal component of Agent Orange has not devastated our greenery, dioxin “hot spots” associated with locations where the chemical was tested, stored, or manufactured do pose a continuing threat to human health.
by Fred A. Wilcox