Monday, June 29, 2015

House Panel Approves Toxic Chemical Safety Bill







The House Energy and Commerce Committee advanced a toxic chemical safety bill on a nearly unanimous vote on Wednesday, clearing the bill to hit the House floor by the end of the month. 
The TCSA Modernization Act would overhaul the federal Toxic Substances Control Act for the fist time in decades. The bill would force the Environmental Protection Agency to evaluate chemicals in consumer goods and quickly issue risk management regulations on them. Those rules would apply nationally, but the bill also gives states the chance to issue their own regulations.
Manufacturers would also be allowed to petition the EPA to issue a ruling on the safety of the chemicals in their products.     
READ THE STORY

Listen to Betty Mekdeci

WWII Veteran Mustard Gas Exposures

http://web.archive.org/web/20141004031601/http:/mcm.fhpr.osd.mil/cb_exposures/ww2/ww2exposures.aspx
During World War II both sides produced millions of tons of chemical agents and also made preparations for their use but never employed them in combat. The United States focused its research on the development of protective clothing and skin ointments that would prevent or lessen the severe blistering of mustard agents.

There were three basic types of experiments that potentially exposed Service members:
1. Patch or drop tests. These were the most common tests and the Chemical Warfare Service used them to evaluate the effectiveness of protective or decontamination ointments in protecting against or treating mustard agent burns. These tests also evaluated how multiple exposures affected an individual’s sensitivity to mustard burns and the effects of physical exercise on these burns. Additionally, a drop of mustard agent was commonly applied to the forearms of basic trainees to impress them with the toxicity of the agent and the need to take appropriate action if exposed.
2. Chamber tests. These tests evaluated the effectiveness of protective clothing against mustard agent.
3. Field tests. These tests involved the contamination of an area of land with blister agent. Human subjects traversed this terrain to test protective clothing, to monitor the effects of agent on animals in the test site, and to measure agent concentrations in soil and water samples.
Table 1 below shows the location of known major test facilities during World War II.

Location- Type of Experiment
Edgewood Arsenal, Maryland - Chamber, patch tests, Small scale field tests
Bainbridge, Maryland - Chamber tests
Dugway Proving Ground, Utah - Large scale field tests
Camp Sibert, Alabama - Chamber and patch tests
Naval Research Laboratory, Virginia - Chamber and patch tests
Great Lakes Naval Training Center, Illinois - Chamber and patch tests
Camp Lejeune, North Carolina - Chamber tests
San Jose Island, Panama Canal Zone - Chamber tests, Large scale field tests
Bushnell, Florida - Large scale field tests


http://tftptf.com/v-web/bulletin/bb/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=1855#p10229
http://fhp.osd.mil/CBexposures/ww2exposures.jsp
https://web.archive.org/web/20120915082005/http://fhp.osd.mil/CBexposures/ww2exposures.jsp
http://web.archive.org/web/20141004031601/http://mcm.fhpr.osd.mil/cb_exposures/ww2/ww2exposures.aspx

U.S. too little, too late with Agent Orange benefits

http://www.abqjournal.com/605009/opinion/us-too-little-too-late-with-agent-orange-benefits.html
So, the U.S. government has finally decided to help some 2,000 Air Force personnel exposed to Agent Orange residue left over in airplanes used during the Vietnam War. They are now eligible for disability, medical and survivor benefits.
“Opening up eligibility for this deserving group of Air Force veterans and reservists is the right thing to do,” VA Secretary Bob McDonald announced.
Really? Then why didn’t the VA take this step long ago? These new recipients flew in Fairchild C-123 aircraft from 1969 to 1986. That’s between 46 and 29 years ago!
And if it’s the “right thing to do” for those folks, then what about the countless other Vietnam era military personnel whose cries for help have been ignored even though they suffer from some or many of the 14 diseases needed to claim Agent Orange benefits?
The long standing rule says if a veteran had boots on-the-ground in Vietnam, they are automatically accepted for special benefits. All others making Agent Orange disability claims have to prove they handled the toxic chemical or worked near it.
Over the decades, I have spoken to dozens of vets who suffer from an “approved” disease. Among them: Hodgkin’s, Parkinson’s, prostate or respiratory cancers, soft tissue sarcoma, diabetes mellitus (Type 2), chronic B-cell leukemia, ischemic heart disease and debilitating chloracne. Many fear they have passed their ill health on to their children and grandchildren.
These veterans are ignored, according to the few lawyers willing to challenge the VA on their behalf, because the Defense Department claims they can find no records proving they were in proximity to Agent Orange. Records were poorly kept, lost and, in at least one case, destroyed by fire.
If ever there was a deserving group of citizens with a reason to sue for redress this is it.
But, oh yeah, the U.S. government is conveniently immune from lawsuits.
These men and women who loyally served their country are convinced that the government’s strategy has been to, “Deny, deny, until they die,” since Agent Orange benefits already account for one out of six disability checks issued by the VA.
Take the case of Air Force Master Sergeant LeRoy Foster who spent 10 years (from 1968 to 1978) assigned to the 43rd Supply Squadron at Anderson Air Force Base in Guam. His duties included spraying herbicides around the base to get rid of weeds.
In sworn testimony to the U.S. Congress, and in several affidavits to the VA, Foster swore that Agent Orange – which contains deadly TCDD dioxin – was among the defoliants he regularly loaded into his 750 gallon trailer-mounted sprayer and dispersed base-wide. Other military personnel on Guam at the time – like Sgt. Ralph Stanton – confirm the account and reported they were “routinely soaked” by Foster’s spray.
They gave me personal photographs from their days at Anderson AFB showing stacks of chemical barrels they swore carried the telltale Agent Orange markings. Other photos showed GIs cooking on barbecue grills fashioned out of the empty drums.
A U.S. government analysis of the island’s soil confirmed the presence of Agent Orange toxins. Guam has an extraordinarily high cancer rate.
Yet, to this day, the DOD maintains it has no records proving the military ever transported Agent Orange to that strategically important Vietnam era island.
The Pentagon also denies Agent Orange was ever present on Okinawa, another location U.S. vets maintain was an AO hot spot where they first began to experience major health issues.
Checking in this week with Foster and Stanton I discovered both men were still alive but deathly ill. Foster is battling devastating rectal cancer.
“I am down to 150 (pounds) now,” Foster wrote. “The weight is falling off of me. I believe there is no reversing it.”
Stanton wrote of his health, “It’s kind of like a juggling act because of the number of things wrong with me.”
Hundreds of Guam and Okinawa based veterans have filed VA claims citing exposure to Agent Orange as the cause of their health problems, but the vast majority were rejected. And none of the 200,000 so-called “Blue Water” vets who say they were exposed to Agent Orange while serving aboard deep-water naval vessels stationed off Vietnam’s coast has been awarded special benefits.
Who can’t be happy for the 2,000 Air Force vets who were recently added to the Agent Orange rolls? But excuse me if I don’t applaud the VA’s massively delinquent action.
Our government did a terrible thing when it continued to spray millions of gallons of deadly Agent Orange long after it was clear it caused devastating health problems. But what’s worse is its obstinate refusal over the years to take full responsibility for all sick and dying veterans.
Deny, deny until they die. Shameful.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Are you a Vietnam veteran? Help us investigate the impact of Agent Orange

http://hamptonroads.com/2015/06/are-you-vietnam-veteran-help-us-investigate-impact-agent-orange

ProPublica and The Virginian-Pilot are exploring the ways children of Vietnam veterans may be affected by a parent's exposure to Agent Orange.
The Department of Veterans Affairs acknowledges that direct exposure to Agent Orange and other defoliants may lead to negative health consequences for veterans. Some veterans’ service organizations, including the Vietnam Veterans of America, have expressed concern that exposure has also led to health issues in the children of veterans.
Are you a Vietnam veteran, or the child of a veteran? You can help us learn more about this issue by completing this short survey, which includes questions about your service, family and health. Please answer as completely as you can. Your personal information will not be shared with others without your permission, but reporters plan to aggregate statistical information and publish an overview about the results of the survey, without identifying specific individuals.
The more veterans we hear from, the better we can understand this issue. We hope you’ll consider responding or sharing this survey with other veterans. Thank you!
TAKE THE POLL

Dangerous Chemical? World Health Organization (WHO) Examines Big Ag’s 2,4-D Herbicide Used in Agent Orange




http://www.globalresearch.ca/dangerous-chemical-world-health-organization-who-examines-big-ags-24-d-herbicide-used-in-agent-orange/5453275
When the World Health Organization recently declared that the herbicide ingredient glyphosate was ‘probably carcinogenic,’ numerous countries responded with bans, serious inquiries, and boycotts of Monsanto’s Roundup. Now, the WHO is now set to review another Big Ag chemical, 2,4-D, just three months after Monsanto was delivered news it couldn’t swallow. You can bet Big Ag is nervous.
It isn’t as if this ‘bad’ news is ‘big news’ to most of us in the GMO-awareness movement. We’ve been sounding the warning sirens about these products for decades. What matters is that a WHO declaration that a product is cancerous finally gives government agencies and local municipalities the extra ‘oomph’ they need to take decisive action against agribusiness companies who are poisoning us and the planet.
The herbicide 2,4-D is set to be examined by twenty-four scientists representing the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).
The review will occur at a meeting scheduled for June 2nd– 9th in Lyon, France.
A totally separate group of IARC scientists were the ones who delivered a death blow to Monsanto, but a joyful recognition to all those who have been negatively affected by Big Ag chemicals. It meant that things were finally changing.
Many believe the new scientific panel could deliver a similar fate to makers of 2,4-D, the main ingredient used in Vietnam, known around the world as Agent Orange.
Michael Hansen, a senior scientist at Consumers Union believes they will upgrade 2,4-D’s status as a dangerous chemical, which would then prompt a similar reaction to Monsanto’s Glyphosate – bans, consumer boycotts, and more.
With the obvious reference in our history of the Vietnam War, the case for 2,4-D is even more open and shut than with glyphosate. Dow representatives say there is no cancer link, but IARC scientists Maria Leon, and others, say that there are multiple cancer connections triggered by 2,4-D exposure.
Should the WHO’s declaration concerning 2,4-D be similar to that given for glyphosate, that means first Monsanto, and then Dow Chemical would be knocked down to size within months. Big Ag, the world is asking for you to pay your karmic debt. It starts now.

WA Government agrees to examine new information on Agent Orange legacy

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-06-22/ken-baston-agrees-to-examine-new-information-about-agent-orange/6565324
WA Agriculture Minister Ken Baston says he will examine any new information on reports of generational health problems from toxic chemicals linked to Agent Orange in the Kimberley.
During the 1970s and 1980s hundreds of mostly Indigenous men were employed by the Agricultural Protection Board to eradicate weeds across parts of the West Kimberley.
With no protection gear offered for much of that time the men were routinely exposed to the now banned substance 2-4-5-T, an ingredient in the defoliant Agent Orange.
Families of the workers have continued to report ill-health, and believe the chemicals were responsible for a range of illnesses affecting the workers' partners, children and grandchildren.
Mr Baston said there had been a considerable amount of health and scientific work done on the issue over a long period of time.
"If claimants have any new information it should be presented to Government ... and supported by appropriate documentation by health professionals, so it can be examined," he said.
After three inquiries in the early 2000s the then government offered a "fast track" compensation option for those affected.
Around 70 men have since applied but only eight have been compensated, all former workers with cancer.
MORE

US chemical companies try to delay AO lawsuit in France

http://english.vietnamnet.vn/fms/society/133990/us-chemical-companies-try-to-delay-ao-lawsuit-in-france.html
US chemical companies sued by an Agent Orange victim living in France are trying to delay the lawsuit’s progress by questioning the accuracy of documents submitted by the plaintiff.
Bertrand Repolt, who represented the plaintiff’s team of lawyers at the latest court hearing on the lawsuit at the Ervy Court in France, said the lawyers of 26 US companies demanded clear evidence for the documents attached to the petition.
According to Repolt, this is a tactic aimed at delaying the process and tiring the plaintiff’s side out, which is worrying as the health of the 73-year-old plaintiff is deteriorating due to many diseases she acquired as a consequence of exposure to Agent Orange/dioxin.
The lawyer noted that whether the evidence is persuasive will be discussed during the trial, when lawyers of both side present their arguments. Therefore, the demand that detailed evidence be included in the petition is made just with the intention of delaying the hearing process, he said.
Speaking to the media outside the courtroom, plaintiff Tran To Nga said she filed the lawsuit not for her own interest but for other Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange/dioxin who are suffering from the after-effects of the toxic chemical without the means for treatment. She affirmed her resolve to pursue the lawsuit despite all the difficulties.
Nicolas Jaillard from France Television said he has been following the case, which was reported on France 24 channel.
Two independent film makers from the US, Sylvie Jacquemin and Milena Doleno said they are working on a film about the lawsuit for the New-York-based Films for Humanity.
In May 2014, Vietnamese-French Tran Thi To Nga, born in 1942, filed a lawsuit against 26 US chemical firms for producing chemical toxins sprayed by the US army in the war in Vietnam, causing serious consequences for the community, her and her children.
Tran To Nga graduated from a Hanoi university in 1966 and became a war correspondent of the Liberation News Agency. She worked in some of the most heavily AO/Dioxin affected areas in southern Vietnam such as Cu Chi, Ben Cat and along the Ho Chi Minh Trail, ultimately experiencing effects of contamination.
Among her three children, the first child died of heart defects while the second suffered from a blood disease.
In 2009, Nga, who contracted a number of acute diseases, appeared as a witness at the Court of Public Opinion in Paris, France against US chemical companies.
The complaint and related documents were handed over to the Crown Court of Evry city in the suburb of Paris.
From 1961-1971, US troops sprayed more than 80 million litres of herbicides—44 million litres of which were AO containing nearly 370 kilograms of dioxin—over southern Vietnam.
As a result, around 4.8 million Vietnamese were exposed to the toxic chemical. Many of the victims have died, while millions of their descendants are living with deformities and diseases as a direct result of the chemical’s effects.

Monday, June 22, 2015

H.R. 1769 - Call your Representatives TODAY!

H.R. 1769 - Toxic Exposure Research Act of 2015

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S. 901 - Call your Senators TODAY!

S. 901 Toxic Exposure Research Act of 2015
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Finally: More benefits for vets exposed to herbicide

http://www.guampdn.com/story/opinion/editorials/2015/06/21/finally-more-benefits--vets-exposed--herbicide---right-decision-0622/29065909/
The federal government has finally done the right thing for veterans exposed to Agent Orange, a cancer-causing chemical herbicide used by the military during the Vietnam War, by expanding the eligibility for affected Air Force veterans and reservists.
Last week, the Department of Veterans Affairs expanded eligibility of some benefits for certain Air Force veterans and Air Force reservists who worked on C-123 aircraft during and after the war. The planes were used as part of an operation that involved spraying the toxic herbicide to destroy foliage.
The decision to expand benefits was made following a report by the National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine that states as many as 1,500 to 2,100 Air Force members were exposed to the herbicide. The report stated samples taken from the aircraft showed the presence of Agent Orange residue, and that hundreds of Air Force reservists trained and worked on the aircraft following the war.
The Department of Veterans Affairs considered these reservists ineligible for health care and disability coverage under the Agent Orange Act of 1991.
"I applaud the VA for taking this step to provide support for our veterans that worked on these contaminated aircraft," said Guam Delegate Madeleine Bordallo. "I urge any of our eligible veterans on Guam to file a claim with the VA to get the benefits they are entitled to."
In 2002, the federal government for the first time publicly acknowledged that service members may have been exposed to Agent Orange while at military bases that tested or stored the herbicide, such as Andersen Air Force Base.
We urge all veterans who may have been exposed to this cancer-causing chemical, or their survivors, to step forward and apply for the benefits.
Our veterans have sacrificed so much for all of us, and for the nation, and they deserve every benefit to which they are entitled. That is doubly true to those who were exposed to cancer-causing chemicals by their own government.
LEARN MORE
• Learn more and apply for benefits: www.benefits.va.gov/compensation/agentorange-c123.asp
• Call the VA's Special C-123 Hotline at 1-800-749-8387

Agent Orange' legacy continues to haunt next generation of West Kimberley families

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-06-21/kimberley-chemical-legacy-continues-to-haunt-wa-families/6558388
A weed-spraying program that used toxic chemicals linked to Agent Orange continues to haunt families in Western Australia's Kimberley.
Groups of men - many of them now dead - sprayed the chemicals wearing little more than shorts and singlets during the 1970s and '80s.
Standing in the Derby cemetery looking down over the graves of two of her children and one grandchild, Lena Buckle-Fraser says she will never forget the smell.
The memory of that toxic scent is now associated with only one thing for the Derby elder - death.

"I lost my third son Lance in 1998, my daughter in 2001 and Kingsley, my grandchild, in 2010," she said.
"I know it was that Agent Orange that killed them."
In the early 1970s the WA Agriculture Protection Board hired more than 300 men to eradicate the weeds, Noogoora Burr and Parkinsonia, that were affecting livestock across northern WA.
The herbicide the men were spraying contained the now-banned substance 245T - an ingredient in the defoliant Agent Orange.
Ms Buckle-Fraser lived with her five children next door to where she said the trucks that held the barrels of the substance were parked and stored over the wet season.
"When the rain would come it would wash all the residue off the drums and into my yard," she said.
"There was a hollow where the clothesline was and the children use to play in that."
MORE

Friday, June 19, 2015

C-123 Agent Orange Benefit Questions

Individuals with specific benefit questions related to herbicide exposure on C-123s may call VA’s special C-123 Hotline at 1-800-749-8387 or e-mail VSCC123.VAVBASPL@va.gov.

For more information on applying for these benefits, including the affected units, Air Force Specialty Codes and dates of service for affected crew members, and a listing of Agent Orange-related conditions, visit www.benefits.va.gov/COMPENSATION/claims-postservice-agent_orange.asp