Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Agent Orange effects linger in Vietnam

THE OLD GOLD & BLACK - The Wake Forest university Newsletter
The Vietnam War is a sore spot in the memories of many American citizens. From 1955 to 1975, the United States found itself entrenched in a war of unrecognizable proportions. Due to the unprecedented tactical disadvantages faced by American soldiers, action had to be taken to level the playing field, ultimately crippling the guerrilla warfare tactics held by members of the Vietnamese military. The solution? Agent Orange, an herbicidal chemical extensively used to eradicate jungle flora throughout the Vietnamese countryside. Often used at levels upwards of 50 times the recommended usage, Agent Orange decimated fields and jungles alike.

However, unexpected consequences accompanied the use of this chemical, resulting in adverse health conditions contracted by both the Vietnamese people and the American soldiers responsible for its distribution.

Some 35 years later, the effects of this chemical are still evident in Vietnam, as children are born with birth defects and families are ripped apart at the seams. The war may be over, but the conversation cannot end.

Unfortunately, it seems that the focus of the consequences of Agent Orange has been politicized. Many claim that Agent Orange has had little effect on the people of Vietnam, that it is simply a propaganda campaign by the Vietnamese government to garner international sympathy and financial support for the cleanup of their countryside. Yet, the facts remain.

There still exist some 28 hot spots of Agent Orange, commonly concentrated around former U.S. airport bases where the chemical loaded into planes.

Furthermore, these hot spots still affect the local communities, as the dioxin produced by Agent Orange attaches itself to fish consumed by the nearby citizens.

Agent Orange can affect individuals in a variety of ways, most commonly in the form of birth deformations and defects. Some Vietnamese children are born without eyes and noses. Others are born without the ability to walk or function in a normal societal setting. Some 150,000 children in Vietnam can attribute disabilities to Agent Orange.

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