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    Agent Orange Dioxin Hotspots | The Environmental Impact

About Agent Orange in Vietnam War Crimes 

What Is Agent Orange?

Agent Orange is referred to as a mixture of herbicides that was used by the U.S. military during the Vietnam war. Its purpose was to defoliate forest cover and clear other areas of vegetation. 

This mix of herbicide was heavily sprayed in all of Vietnam’s agricultural, urban, and forested areas to destroy food crops and expose the enemy. Several herbicides other than Agent Orange was also used in Vietnam; they were code-named Agents White, Blue, Purple, Green, and Pink. 

Why Is Agent Orange Dangerous? 

Contaminated Agent Orange is considered dangerous due to the 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) that it contains. TCDD is a by-product of the production of herbicides and is very toxic, even in small amounts. What’s worse is that TCDD in the natural environment can last for many years. 

Why Is Agent Orange Spraying a Cause for Concern? 

A total of 20 million gallons, estimated to be at least two-thirds of the Rainbow herbicides that were used during the Vietnam war, contained the Dioxin-contaminated phenoxy herbicide 2,4,5-T. It was also found that the other herbicides used, in addition to those with Dioxin contamination, were 50 times more than the recommended concentration used for killing plants.

At Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, Dr. Jeanne Stellman and her former colleagues examined the spray data from the war and discovered that 366 kilograms of Dioxin were sprayed on South Vietnam. Their discoveries also showed a surplus of inventories of Agent Orange from Johnston Island and Gulfport, MS, located in the Pacific, containing Dioxin of around 6.2 to 14.3 ppt before they were destroyed.

A Further Look into the Investigation of Dioxin Contamination 

From 1994 onwards, a Canadian environmental firm called Hatfield Consultants conducted extensive testing on humans, animals, and the soil to determine the levels of Dioxin that remain in Vietnam’s soil and sediments, as well as the chemical accumulation’s extent into the food chain.

Testing began in A Luoi Valley, an extremely remote valley with barely any agricultural infrastructure and no industry. Between 1965 and 1970, as many as 224 spraying missions had been flown over this site. A Luoi Valley was home to three U.S. military special force bases. On the other hand, A So base was used for three years, where the Agent Orange stored in the barrels of this base was used in the surrounding areas. 

It was in these surrounding heavily sprayed areas of the base where researchers found Dioxin levels of up to 897.85 ppt. Ducks and fish were found to have elevated levels of Dioxin present in their fatty tissues, and the local population was also found to have high levels of dioxin in their breast milk and blood. 

Other areas of the former A Luoi and Ta Bat military bases also had raised levels of Dioxin, ranging between 4.3 ppt to 35 ppt, even though they were only in operation for one year. 

The Air Bases 

The Canadian environmental firm theorized that there were other primarily former military-installed bases that were laden with Dioxin throughout Southern Vietnam. They were later designated as “hotspots,” and these dioxin hot spots were of particular concern. 

From as early as the mid-1990s, at least 28 bases were identified by Hatfield to have raised levels of Dioxin contamination. The Bien How, Phu Cat, and Da Nang bases are among these numerous Dioxin hot spots that have dioxin contamination of above 150 ppt in the sediment and above 1,000 ppt toxic equivalents (TEQ) in the contaminated soils. This was considered to be Vietnam’s standard for remediation. 

All three bases were identified as priorities for remediation by the Vietnamese government; however, the Da Nang air base was of particular concern due to the fact that after the war, it became a domestic and international airport vital to the country’s central coast region. 

Committed to helping Vietnam address the unfavorable Dioxin contamination at the Ben Koa and Da Nang bases was the United States government. This joint project was completed in 2018, and the United States and Vietnam began to work together to remediate the Ben Hoa base in 2019. 

Throughout Southern Vietnam, the remaining dioxin hotspots were found to have much lower dioxin concentrations, most of which fell under the level of remediation. Thus, mitigation efforts in these cases to keep people and animals off the site and the movement of contaminated soil were considered enough. The A So Base in A Luoi and other areas, however, still require more remediation work by the Vietnamese government. 

How Has Agent Orange Affected the General Population?

Vietnam has reported that 400,000 people have either suffered permanent injury or death as a result of Agent Orange exposure. Furthermore, around 2,000,000 people have also suffered from illnesses caused by exposure to Agent Orange, and an estimated 500,000 babies were born with serious birth defects due to the effects of the toxic herbicides used in the Vietnam war. 

Today, Agent Orange is still affecting people’s health, even though major manufacturers have denied that the mix of herbicides has long-lasting impacts on human health. Since as early as 1978, several class action lawsuits have been filed against companies that produced Agent Orange, among these are Dow Chemical, Diamond Shamrock, and Monsanto. 

However, on 7 May 1984, Dow Chemical and the other chemical companies settled a class action lawsuit just before the jury selection was about to begin. They agreed to pay $180 million in compensation if the veterans agreed to drop all claims against them. 

Health Problems Resulting from Exposure to Agent Orange 

Vietnamese people and military veterans exposed to Agent Orange may suffer from congenital deformations or skin diseases, depending on the timing, length, and intensity of their exposure. Due to its high concentrations of Dioxin, Agent Orange is a carcinogen that causes cancers in those that have been exposed. 

In addition, there are also long-lasting impacts on pregnancy, such as abnormal fetal development and miscarriages. Exposure to Agent Orange has also been linked to type 2 diabetes, hormone disruption, heart disease, and dysfunction of the immune and muscular systems. 

Congress enacted the Agent Orange Act of 1991 to give the Department of Veterans Affairs the authority to declare certain presumptive conditions as a result of exposure to dioxin, allowing Veterans who served in Vietnam to be eligible to receive treatment and disability compensation for these conditions.

Since 1991, this list has grown and includes:

  • Prostate cancer
  • Respiratory cancers 
  • Parkinson’s disease 
  • Multiple myeloma.

How an Attorney at Ehline Law Can Help Victims of Chemical Warfare Recover the Compensation They Deserve

Those who are suffering or have loved ones suffering from serious health effects as a result of exposure to Agent Orange should get into contact with a lawyer from Ehline Law immediately. 

Legal proceedings can cause a lot of stress and anxiety, so it is better to hand them over to the skilled legal team at Ehline Law. They are reliable and compassionate lawyers who will know how to achieve the best possible outcome for your terrible situation. 

Victims can get in touch with Ehline Law today at (213) 596-9642 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. 

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Michael Ehline

Michael Ehline is an inactive U.S. Marine and world-famous legal historian. Michael helped draft the Cruise Ship Safety Act and has won some of U.S. history’s largest motorcycle accident settlements. Together with his legal team, Michael and the Ehline Law Firm collect damages on behalf of clients. We pride ourselves on being available to answer your most pressing and difficult questions 24/7. We are proud sponsors of the Paul Ehline Memorial Motorcycle Ride and a Service Disabled Veteran Operated Business. (SDVOB.) We are ready to fight.