Agent Orange

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Agent orange was an herbicide used in Vietnam. It was use to kill overgrown trees and shrubs that were in the way of advancing United States troops. Agent orange got its name from the barrel it was transported in; the barrel had a large orange stripe running across it.
     Agent orange was heavily used; in fact, it was the most used of all herbicides in Vietnam. From 1962 until 1971 over 20 millions gallons were used to cover a large 6 million acre area. The most heavily covered areas were those where very thick brush was present; it would give the enemy cover, as well as hindering the troops ability to move. The areas were located in South Vietnam, the transportation areas of Laos and Cambodia, and the forests of the demarcation zone.
     Agent orange, along with its brothers, Agent White and Agent Blue, did a great job clearing away the brush. It did this with severe costs; people exposed to Agent Orange have had many problems.
     Before you know what Agent Orange did to people, you have to understand what it was made of and how it worked. Agent orange contained a mixture of many plant hormones, which would confuse the plants metabolism and cause the plants to lose flowers, leaves and fruit within two to three weeks. Not only did it have bad effects on plants, it did things to humans, especially the ground troops who carried it and the airplane crew that dropped it.
     Dioxin, what was created in the mixture of hormones, has been proven to be very dangerous and poisonous. In lab tests, Agent Orange has given animals cancer and causes birth effects. This is also thought to be true in humans, as many veterans complain about things like; cancer, birth defects, liver infections, tumors, elevated blood pressure, blood deficiency, enlarged head, club feet and many other illnesses. Although it hasn’t been proven 100% sure that Agent Orange is the cause for this, it is the one linking factor for all the people involved.
      The United States government has handled this outbreak rather well, in 1978 the Veterans Administration set up the Agent Orange Registry program. This allowed concerned veterans to enroll in a program that would test them for all known effects and allow them to seek treatment.
     The Agent Orange story is not over yet, in 1994, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) found that the level of dioxin was not high, and most people could tolerate it well.

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This caused more investigation by the United States government, which agreed with the findings. Although they agreed, they still felt they should protect the people who it affects, and they still continue on with the program.     
     Agent orange was no laughing matter, a chemical which made things easier in Vietnam has made life for Vietnam veterans who came in contact with it hell. They are having many problems, and have the government to turn to. The saga of Agent Orange has secured its place in the history books of children for years to come.


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