273185 Agent Orange in Vietnam from 1962 through 2012

Monday, October 29, 2012 : 5:10 PM - 5:30 PM

Arnold Schecter, MD, MPH , University of Texas School of Public Health, Dallas, TX
Robert Owen, MD , Environmental Health Section, Veteran Affairs Medical Center, San Francisco, CA
Two herbicides, 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T, were mixed and sprayed heavily to destroy forests and food crops being used by North Vietnamese and South Vietnamese communist combatants. The spraying from fixed wing aircraft began in 1962 and ended in 1971. Those Vietnamese opposing US efforts considered this chemical warfare. When it was learned that TCDD, the most toxic dioxin, contaminated this mixture which was known as Agent Orange, and also due to US public opposition, continued use of spraying ended. Some in Vietnam thought malformations and liver cancer increased where Agent Orange had been sprayed. Research since Agent Orange spraying in a number of countries and in a number of laboratories documented that Agent Orange can cause a number of adverse health conditions including cancers, endocrine disruption, immune deficiency, neurological as well as reproductive and developmental pathology. The war between Vietnam and the United States ended in 1975 and the United States recognized Vietnam in 1995. A number of studies by scientists from many countries established that dioxin from Agent Orange in Vietnam persisted for many decades to the present time in humans, wildlife, food, soil and sediment in certain locations. At present, the Vietnam and the US governments are working on remediation efforts to keep the dioxin from Agent Orange from further contamination. Thermal degradation is the primary method being used now at the contaminated Da Nang airport. The United States is partly funding this effort at the present time with several million dollars each year. Additional funds from the United States are being used for a number of health programs some of which are indirectly related to Agent Orange. The Vietnamese government believes the remediation efforts will take many years.

Learning Areas:
Environmental health sciences
Occupational health and safety

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe the past history of Agent Orange in Vietnam. 2. Describe the present approaches to Agent Orange’s dionxin remediation in Vietnam.

Keywords: Agent Orange, War

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
Organization/institution whose products or services will be discussed: NA

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have conducted research in Vietnam from 1984 to now. I have over 100 publications concerning health and Vietnam.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.

Back to: 3450.0: Lessons from the Vietnam War