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Effects of Agent Orange on Vietnam Veterans

The purpose of this research is to examine the effects

of Agent Orange on Vietnam Veterans. The nature and use of Agent Orange will be discussed and its physical and psychological effects characterized.

The use of herbicides to kill vegetation for military purposes was begun by the Romans as early as 300 B.C. Their practice was to spread salt on the grazing and farm lands of enemies in order to diminish their food supply. Herbicidal warfare remained primitive until after the Second World War when chemicals came into use (Strum 10-11). The war in Vietnam, however, saw the first massive attempt to remove enemy cover as well as to destroy food supplies in the form of Operation Ranch Hand (1961-1971). The principal chemicals used in this effort were commonly known as Agent White, Agent Blue and Agent Orange, these names referring to the color of the barrels in which they were shipped to Vietnam. By far the most frequently used of the three was Agent Orange.

Agent Orange is a herbicidal compound of the phenoxy family, a synthesis of chlorine and phenol. Used together, these two chemicals are capable of killing a wide variety of broad-leafed plants. This was desirable in Vietnam from the American command's point of view as jungle and tropical rain forest provided cover for enemy movements and ambushes. In fact, results showed a significant drop in the number of ambushes in areas where the herbicide was applied. Consequently, between 1961 and 1971 there was a great demand for Agent Orange

spraying on the part of field commanders in Vietnam. According to U.S. military records, some 72 million liters of Agent Orange were sprayed over the southern part of Vietnam during this period (Science 1196).

Agent Orange had been known and used in the United States since the mid-1940s. It became the result of fairly extensive study because of the high incidence of health problems among workers who produced and employed it. As a result of t...

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Effects of Agent Orange on Vietnam Veterans. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 02:16, September 23, 2014, from