Agent Orange : A Herbicide / Defoliant Used By The U.s. Military During The Vietnam War

1420 WordsFeb 6, 20176 Pages
Agent Orange was a herbicide/defoliant used by the U.S. military during the Vietnam War as part of the Herbicidal Warfare Program. Agent Orange was given its nickname due the the barrels it was stored in, marked with a single orange stripe, other herbicides used in southeast asia were given similar nicknames such as Agents Blue, Green, Pink and Purple. Despite the large veritable rainbow of different defoliants, Agent Orange was primarily used during Operation: Ranch Hand [HowStuffWorks Science]. During Operation: Ranch Hand, 19 million gallons of Agent Orange and other chemicals were sprayed over 4.5 million acres of land in Vietnam [History.com]. The reasons for the mass distribution of the chemical were to “Deny them food and…show more content…
In both past and present, the traces of Agent Orange have drastically affected the ecosystems of Vietnam. The causes for the effects of Agent Orange are due to its main, and most dangerous component: Dioxin. Many of the separate Agent compounds contained dioxin, but Agent Orange contained Tetrachlorodibenzo-p-Dioxin (TCDD,) one of the most potent forms of Dioxin. TCDD is responsible for many of the sub-lethal effects on wildlife in Agent Orange spray zones, causing tumors and birth defects, along with a variety of cancers to animals who ingest it [HowStuffWorks Science]. Almost every living animal has small amounts of Dioxin located in their body fat, but the mutagenic effects of Dioxin occur when it enters an ecosystem in large amounts. The body can process small amounts of dioxin, but in vast quantities, like the millions of gallons of Agent Orange dropped on the forests of Vietnam, it is a very powerful poison. After the Dioxin soaked up into the plants and ground of the Vietnam forest it worked its way up the food chain, as herbivores ate the Dioxin-infused grass, then become Dioxin-laced themselves, eventually everything became infected with the Dioxin and slowly died out, eventually, all the plants and animals were gone, leaving a barren wasteland. That is how the forests of Vietnam eventually withered away, and some did not return [HowStuffWorks Science]. This is very clearly a violation of environmental justice,

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