AGENT ORANGE RESOURCES
An interactive map can be used to see defoliant spraying missions by U.S. and South Vietnamese forces over Vietnam, as well as Laos and Cambodia. The missions began in summer 1961 and ended more than a decade later, in spring 1971.
Memories of the Vietnam War are dimming, but veterans and Vietnamese nationals who were exposed to Agent Orange and other dioxin-laced defoliants are still experiencing devastating health effects, and birth defects have brought the impact into a second generation. Yet the U.S. government has yet to make full amends, either in the U.S. or overseas.
To report this series, the Tribune interviewed nearly two dozen civilians and former soldiers in Vietnam as well as researching thousands of pages of documents and traveling to the homes of veterans in the U.S. Travel in Vietnam was supported by the Fund for Investigative Journalism.
Part 1 of 5: U.S. veterans exposed to Agent Orange face delays and a maddening bureaucracy as they seek compensation for related illnesses. In Vietnam, where untold numbers of people suffer from the same maladies and the chemicals continue to poison the environment, government officials wonder how the U.S. can ignore the ongoing effects of the defoliants.
For many U.S. veterans, the bureaucratic fight to be compensated for health problems linked to Agent Orange amounts to a new and unexpected war, long after the shooting ended overseas.
The most contentious question surrounding the use of defoliants in the war is their impact on citizens, particularly the suspected link between the herbicides and birth defects.
New research finds former U.S. airbases in Vietnam remain polluted from defoliants, underscoring the urgency of a solvable problem. The U.S. has done little to clean up the hot spots.
The Tribune unearths documents showing that decisions by the U.S. military and chemical companies that manufactured the defoliants used in Vietnam made the spraying more dangerous than it had to be.
Diseases Associated With Exposure to Certain Herbicide Agents (Hairy Cell Leukemia and Other Chronic B Cell Leukemias, Parkinson?s Disease, and Ischemic Heart Disease)
This document amends the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) adjudication regulations concerning presumptive service connection for certain diseases based upon the most recent National Academy of Sciences (NAS) Institute of Medicine committee report, Veterans and Agent Orange: Update 2008 (Update 2008). This amendment is necessary to implement the decision of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs that there is a positive association between exposure to certain herbicides and the subsequent development of hairy cell leukemia and other chronic B-cell leukemias, Parkinson’s disease, and ischemic heart disease. The effect of this amendment is to establish presumptive service connection for these diseases based on herbicide exposure.Show citation box
4 actions from March 25th, 2010 to August 31st, 2010
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
- SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:
- A. Comments Concerning the Effective Date
- B. Comments Regarding the Addition of Parkinson’s Disease to VA’s List of Presumptive Diseases
- C. Comments Concerning VA’s Definition of Ischemic Heart Disease (IHD)
- (1) Lack of Reference to ICD-9-CM Medical Terminology and Codes
- (2) Exclusion of Diseases That Do Not Result in Oxygen Deficiency in the Heart
- (3) Perceived Uncertainty Concerning the Definition of IHD
- (4) Inclusion of Angina as a Compensable Disability
- D. Comments Concerning the Scope of Applicability of the Presumptions
- (1) Expanding the Presumption of Herbicide Exposure Beyond Service in the Republic of Vietnam
- (2) Expanding the Presumptions To Include Other Herbicides
- (3) Secondary Service Connection Explicitly Listed in Regulation
- E. Negative Comment
- F. Comments Indicating General Support of the Rulemaking
- G. Additional Comments Outside the Scope of This Rulemaking
- (1) Comments Related to VA’s Cost Estimate and Assignment of Disability Ratings.
- (2) Perceived Nehmer Contradiction
- (3) Statements About Personal Situations and Hypothetical Benefit Questions
- (4) Comments Unrelated to the Subject of the Rulemaking
- Paperwork Reduction Act
- Executive Order 12866
- Regulatory Impact Analysis
- Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) Costs
- Retroactive Veteran and Survivor Payments
- Vietnam Veterans Previously Denied
- Vietnam Veteran Survivors Previously Denied
- Recurring Veteran and Survivor Payments
- Vietnam Veterans (Reopened Claims)
- Vietnam Veteran and Survivor Accessions
- Estimated Claims From Veterans Not Eligible
- VBA Administrative Costs
- Veterans Health Administration (VHA) Costs
- FY2010 and FY2011 Summary
- Distribution of Disability Claims
- New Enrollments and Changed Enrollments
- Disability Exams Associated Costs
- Health Care and Total Costs
- Unfunded Mandates
- Regulatory Flexibility Act
- Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Numbers and Titles
- Signing Authority
- List of Subjects in 38 CFR Part 3
- PART 3—ADJUDICATION
- Subpart A-Pension, Compensation, and Dependency and Indemnity Compensation
- Note 3:
- Total Obligations by Presumptive Condition
- Veteran Caseload and Obligations for Retroactive Benefits
- Survivor Caseload and Obligations for Retroactive Benefits
- Recurring Veteran and Survivor Caseload and Obligations From Retroactive Processing
- Reopened Caseload and Obligations
- Veteran and Survivor Accessions Cumulative Caseload and Total Obligations
- Total Claims
- Figure 1
- Figure 2
- Figure 3
- Figure 4
- Figure 5
- Figure 6
- Veterans and Agent Orange: Update 2010
- Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans and Agent Orange Exposure (2011)
- Veterans and Agent Orange: Update 2008
- Veterans and Agent Orange: Update 2006
- Veterans and Agent Orange: Update 2004
- Veterans and Agent Orange: Length of Presumptive Period for Association between Exposure and Respiratory Cancer (2004)
- Veterans and Agent Orange: Update 2002
- Veterans and Agent Orange: Herbicide Dioxin Exposure and Acute Myelogenous Leukemia in the Children of Vietnam Veterans (2002)
- Veterans and Agent Orange: Update 2000
- Veterans and Agent Orange: Herbicide Dioxin Exposure and Type 2 Diabetes (2000)
- Veterans and Agent Orange: Update 1998
- Veterans and Agent Orange: Update 1996 Summary and Research Highlights
- Veterans and Agent Orange: Update 1996
- Veterans and Agent Orange: Health Effects of Herbicides Used in Vietnam (1994)
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
Agent Orange is a blend of tactical herbicides the U.S. military sprayed from 1962 to 1971 during Operation Ranch Hand in the Vietnam War to remove trees and dense tropical foliage that provided enemy cover.
More than 19 million gallons of various “rainbow” herbicide combinations were sprayed, but Agent Orange was the combination the U.S. military used most often. The name “Agent Orange” came from the orange identifying stripe used on the 55-gallon drums in which it was stored.
Heavy sprayed areas included forests near the demarcation zone, forests at the junction of the borders of Cambodia, Laos, and South Vietnam, and mangroves on the southernmost peninsula of Vietnam and along shipping channels southeast of Saigon.
The U.S. Department of Defense developed these tactical herbicides specifically to be used in “combat operations.” They were not commercial grade herbicides purchased from chemical companies and sent to Vietnam. Tactical herbicides also were used, tested, and stored in areas outside of Vietnam.
Learn how Veterans may have been exposed to Agent Orange and other herbicides during military service, including outside Vietnam.
Agent Orange active ingredients and characteristics
The two active ingredients in the Agent Orange herbicide combination were equal amounts of 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D) and 2,4,5-trichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4,5-T), which contained traces of 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD).
The dioxin TCDD was an unwanted byproduct of herbicide production. Dioxins are pollutants that are released into the environment by burning waste, diesel exhaust, chemical manufacturing, and other processes. TCDD is the most toxic of the dioxins, and is classified as a human carcinogen by the Environmental Protection Agency.
Agent Orange dries quickly after spraying and breaks down within hours to days when exposed to sunlight (if not bound chemically to a biological surface such as soil, leaves and grass) and is no longer harmful.
For more information on TCDD, read the fact sheet on chlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins (63 KB, PDF) from the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease.
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