What Is the Link Between Agent Orange and Neuropathy?


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The Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences conducted a study in 1996 that concluded that exposure to herbicides, including Agent Orange, may be linked to the development of acute and subacute peripheral neuropathy, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. A 2010 follow-up study further concluded that Agent Orange leads to peripheral neuropathy. The studies led the VA to relax regulations regarding the onset of peripheral neuropahy after Agent Orange exposure for entitlement to veterans' benefits.

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Agent Orange is a toxic herbicide widely used during the Vietnam War to kill vegetation where enemy forces hid, reports History.com. Studies on animals concluded that small amounts of the pesticide were toxic and could cause cancer, birth defects, neurological diseases and other diseases in humans. Veterans exposed to Agent Orange sued the pesticide manufacturers in 1979, who eventually settled the lawsuit for $180 million, although later this settlement rose to about $240 million.

The 1991 Agent Orange Act provided that certain diseases that veterans suffered from as a result of exposure to Agent Orange during their military service, including non-Hodgkins lymphomas, soft tissue sarcomas and chloracne, are presumed to be caused by exposure to the pesticide, advises History.com. The presumption enables such veterans to receive disability and health benefits from the VA. The number of diseases the VA presumes to be caused by Agent Orange has grown and as of 2015 includes peripheral neuropathy, Parkinson's disease, heart disease, certain cancers and other diseases, according to Pacific Standard magazine.

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