What Are the Effects of Exposure to Agent Orange?


Quick Answer

Agent Orange exposure has led to increased rates of cancers such as lung cancer, liver cancer, prostate cancer and throat cancer, as well as respiratory, digestive, nerve and skin disorders. Other health effects include disabilities and various genetic diseases

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Full Answer

Agent Orange was one of the herbicides used during the Vietnam War from the early 1960s to the early 1970s to destroy crops in order to reduce the enemy’s food supply. It is a mixture of two herbicides: 2, 4, 5-trichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2, 4, 5-T) and 2, 4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2, 4-D), which are used to defoliate plants with broad leaves.

Studies done in the late 1960 indicated that the 2, 4, 5-T used in the herbicide had a contaminant, a dioxin named 2, 3, 7, 8-tetrachlorodibenzodioxin. Studies revealed that TCDD was the cause of the many health issues that were associated with Agent Orange exposure.

TCDD has a high toxicity and is often associated with diseases such as chronic lymphocytic leukemia, Hodgkin's lymphoma, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and soft-tissue sarcoma. Studies also indicated that 2, 4, 5-T could cause stillbirths and birth defects. Studies have also shown that growing crops in soil with high levels of dioxins can cause severe skin diseases and other illnesses.

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