On August 10, 1961, America began spraying Agent Orange in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. Operation Ranch Hand waged herbicidal warfare for 10 years.
Around 20,000 sorties were flown. Other spraying was done from boats, trucks, or soldiers mounted with backpacks.
Over five million acres were contaminated. About 20% of South Vietnam was sprayed at least once.
Millions of gallons of dioxin-containing defoliant were used across vast areas. Concentrations were 50 times greater than for other defoliation purposes.
Horrific consequences followed.
Dioxin is one of nature’s most deadly substances. It’s both natural and man-made. It’s a potent carcinogenic human immune system suppressant. Minute amounts cause serious health problems and death.
Agent Orange kills! It accumulates in adipose tissue and the liver. It alters living cell genetic structures.
Exposure results in congenital disorders and birth defects. It causes cancer, type two diabetes, and numerous other diseases.
In 2009, the US Institute of Medicine reported evidence linking Agent Orange to soft-tissue sarcoma, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, chronic lymphocytic leukemia (including hairy-cell leukemia), Hodgkin’s disease, and chloracne.
It’s associated with prostate cancer, multiple myeloma, amyloidosis (abnormal protein deposits), Parkinson’s disease, porphyria cutanea tarda (a blood and skin disorder), ischemic heart disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, peripheral neuropathy, cancer of the larynx, lung, bronchea and trachea, as well as spina bifida in offspring of exposed parents.
Vietnam’s Red Cross links it to liver cancer; lipid metabolism disorder; reproductive abnormalities; development disabilities; paralysis; and congenital deformities like cleft lip, cleft palate, club foot, hydrocephalus, neural tube defects, fused digits, and muscle malformations.
Dioxin remains toxic for decades. It’s not water soluble. Nor easily degradable. It contaminates soil, foliage, air and water.
It can be inhaled, absorbed through skin, or gain bodily entry through eyes, ears, or other cavity passages. It enters the food chain. Crops, plants, animals, and sea life are poisoned.
Its effects killed millions of Southeast Asians. Many others were disabled and/or suffer from chronic illnesses. Future generations are affected like earlier ones.
Around three million US servicemen and women were harmed. So were many American civilians. Many died. Living victims suffer from diseases, birth defects, and other ill effects.
Agent Orange use was always controversial. Studies confirmed its enormous harm. Ecocide and genocide best describe it. Human studies provided damning evidence.
In the early 1970s, Vietnam veterans reported skin rashes, cancer, psychological symptoms, birth defects, and other health problems.
Victims perish to this day.