Some of the long-term effects of exposure to Agent Orange include cancer, liver damage, heart and lung disorders, skin ailments and nervous system diseases, according to Truthout. The effects of exposure have been shown to also reach the following generations of those exposed.
Children and grandchildren of exposure victims can suffer from deformities, mental and physical underdevelopment and early death, reports Truthout. The devastating effects of Agent Orange are not limited to humans. The chemical ravages entire ecosystems, denuding plant life and contaminating lakes, rivers and even underground rivers as the chemical seeps into the ground. Such conditions make areas completely uninhabitable by native animal life and facilitates exposure to those who were not exposed initially. Such accumulating devastation also affects native communities and animal life dependent on these ecosystems for their livelihoods, leaving humans vulnerable and at great risk and forcing many animal species into extinction.
Dioxin, the scientific term for the active chemical in Agent Orange, is very poisonous even in minuscule amounts, delineates the Aspen Institute. It is also a stable compound that can be held in fatty tissue, from where it quickly changes chemical functions at the cellular level, leading to devastating effects on body functions and the healthy reproduction of cells. Dioxin is not water-soluble and degrades slowly, exacerbating its long-term effects.