Children of Agent Orange is a documentary about the long term environmental and especially health effects of the herbicides Agent Orange used during the Vietnam conflict. The film sketches the lives of people still affected by agent orange.
Between 1961 and 1971 over 20 million gallons of these chemicals, nicknamed Agent Orange because of the color of the barrels it was shipped in, were sprayed over vast areas to destroy the Jungle the Viet Minh was hiding in. After decades, the Vietnamese people are still suffering from the effects of the spraying substance that contained high levels of dioxin. In some parts of the country the soil only supports the growth of sturdy grasses, the water is contaminated and children with severe birth defects are still being born. Is there any hope for the future?
Caused By Agent Orange
- AL Amyloidosis: A condition that occurs when a rare and abnormal protein infects your tissues or organs.
- Chronic B-cell Leukemias: A type of blood cancer that affects the white blood cells.
- Chloracne: A skin condition resulting from herbicide exposure and resembling severe acne.
- Hodgkin’s disease: A type of lymphoma cancer involving abnormal cell growth in the lymph nodes.
- Ischemic Heart Disease: A progressive condition in which the heart receives inadequate blood supply, resulting in chest pain and other complications.
- Multiple Myeloma: A blood cancer affecting plasma cells.
- Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma: A cancer of the lymphatic system.
- Parkinson’s Disease: A chronic nervous system disorder that can lead to a progressive lack of mobility and muscle strength.
- Peripheral Neuropathy: A nervous system disorder that causes a number of physical complications, such as weakness, numbness, and constant tingling sensations.
- Porphyria Cutanea Tarda: A liver condition that can cause sun-exposed skin to blister and become more fragile.
- Prostate Cancer: A cancer of the prostate in men.
- Respiratory Cancer: Lung cancer and other cancers of the respiratory system.
- Soft Tissue Sarcomas: Cancers that affect the body’s soft tissues, such as muscle, fat, and connective tissue.
- Type 2 Diabetes: A condition resulting from a lack of insulin response, which leads to chronically high blood sugar levels.
Questions And Answers
Agent Orange was one of a class of color-coded herbicides that U.S. forces sprayed over the rural landscape in Vietnam from 1961 to 1971 to defoliate trees and shrubs and kill food crops that were providing cover and food to opposition forces. It was a 50/50 mixture of two herbicides: 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T. It remained toxic for only days or weeks and then degraded, but it had a toxic contaminant, dioxin, that did not degrade as readily and is still causing health problems in Vietnam.
Production of Agent Orange ended in the 1970s and is no longer in use. The dioxin contaminant however continues to have harmful impact today. As many U.S.Vietnam-era veterans know, dioxin is a highly toxic and persistent organic pollutant linked to cancers, diabetes, birth defects and other disabilities1The Aspen Institute, What is agent orange?
U.S. aircraft were deployed to douse roads, rivers, canals, rice paddies and farmland with powerful mixtures of herbicides. During this process, crops and water sources used by the non-combatant native population of South Vietnam were also hit.
In all, American forces used more than 20 million gallons of herbicides in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia during the years of Operation Ranch Hand. Herbicides were also sprayed from trucks and hand-sprayers around U.S. military bases
During the Vietnam War, the U.S military engaged in an aggressive program of chemical warfare codenamed Operation Ranch Hand.
From 1961 to 1971, the U.S. military sprayed a range of herbicides across more than 4.5 million acres of Vietnam to destroy the forest cover and food crops used by enemy North Vietnamese and Viet Cong troops2History.com, Agent Orange.
In 1962, the United States Air Force launched Operation Ranch Hand. Operation Ranch Hand was an attempt to reveal the hidden roads and treks used by the Communist Viet Cong in South Vietnam. The thick jungles and vegetation in Vietnam offered the communists cover for their operations. They were able to operate on roads that could not be seen from the air and this was a major advantage to them. In order to deny the communists this strategic advantage, the Americans decided to destroy large swathes of the Vietnamese jungles. Herbicides would be sprayed from the air and this was expected to kill vegetation and thereby reveal the road and supply network of the Viet Cong.