What Is Agent Orange?


Quick Answer

Agent Orange was an herbicide sprayed over the Vietnamese landscape by the U.S. military during the Vietnam War in an effort to destroy vegetation that provided cover and food to the North Vietnamese. In 1971, the U.S. government banned Agent Orange, and its production completely stopped later in the 1970s.

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Full Answer

During the war, the U.S. military used a concentration of Agent Orange that was roughly 50 times stronger than that recommended by manufacturers for use in killing plants. This turned out to be problematic, because a chemical component of Agent Orange, dioxin, is a highly dangerous contaminant. Decades after the use of Agent Orange in Vietnam, the dioxin still affects the Vietnamese people, causing cancers, birth defects and other disabilities. Estimates by The Red Cross indicate that 3 million Vietnamese people have felt effects from the presence of dioxin in Agent Orange.

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