Most Recent AGENT ORANGE Information 2003/2004;

The extent and patterns of usage of Agent Orange

and other herbicides in Vietnam


* Department of Health Policy and Management, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, 600 West 168th Street, New York, New York 10032, USA
† Department of
Epidemiology, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, 600 West 168th Street, New York, New York 10032, USA
‡ Institute for Cancer Prevention, One Dana Road, Valhalla, New York 10595, USA
§ 2102 Old Stage Road, Alexandria, Virginia 22308, USA

Herbicides including Agent Orange were sprayed by United States forces for military purposes during the Vietnam War (1961–1971) at a rate more than an order of magnitude greater than for similar domestic weed control. In 1974, the US National Academy of Sciences published estimates of the extent and distribution of herbicides sprayed. Here we present revised estimates, developed using more-complete data. The spray inventory is expanded by more than seven million liters, in particular with heavily dioxin-contaminated herbicides. Estimates for the amount of dioxin sprayed are almost doubled. Hamlet census data reveal that millions of Vietnamese were likely to have been sprayed upon directly. Our identification of specific military herbicide targets has led to a more coherent understanding of spraying. Common errors in earlier interpretations of the spray data are also discussed.

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Characterizing Exposure of Veterans and Agent Orange and Other Herbicides

Used in Vietnam: Interim Findings and Recommendations


Historic Exposure Reconstruction Model for Herbicides in Vietnam: Phas...

Published: April 16th, 2003 READ ONLINE FREE!........READ


In response to a request by the Department of Veterans Affairs, the IOM established a committee to oversee the development and evaluation of a model of wartime herbicide exposure for use in studies of Vietnam veterans.  That committee provided scientific advice to a team of researchers from the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health (Jeanne Mager Stellman, PhD, Principal Investigator), who were contracted to construct the model.

This report represents the committee’s review of the contractor’s modeling efforts.  Based on this review, the committee concludes that a valid exposure reconstruction model for wartime herbicide exposures of US veterans of Vietnam is feasible.  It therefore recommends that the Department of Veterans Affairs and other government agencies facilitate additional epidemiologic studies of veterans by non-governmental organizations and independent researchers.

Characterizing Exposure of Veterans to Agent Orange and Other Herbicides Used in Vietnam: Final Report
September 30, 2003




Agent Orange Overview

Over 2 million American service members served in Vietnam during the Vietnam era. Agent Orange was the most common herbicide used in Southeast Asia by the U.S. Armed Forces during the Vietnam War from 1962-1971. Its use was controversial at the time, and anti-war protestors heavily criticized the military for defoliating large swaths of Vietnam with Agent Orange. However, the military commanders who ordered its use, even today, claim that it saved many more American lives than it cost. Agent Orange was contaminated by the carcinogen dioxin (2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-para-dioxin [TCDD]), although that fact was unknown to the military at the time of its initial use. Scientific studies have linked human exposure to dioxin and certain diseases, particularly cancers. Congress, in the Agent Orange Act of 1991, therefore presumed that all Vietnam veterans were exposed to dioxin for the purposes of filing for VA disability compensation.


Government Has Obligation to Agent Orange Victims

WASHINGTON (February 11, 2004) – American Legion National Commander John Brieden issued the following statement in response to an Internet report discrediting the awarding of disability compensation to U.S. veterans whose illnesses are linked to Agent Orange exposure:

“U.S. forces sprayed more than 20 million gallons of Agent Orange in Southeast Asia from 1962 to 1971. More than 21,000 veterans receive disability compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs for illnesses linked to Agent Orange exposure. Additionally, more than 1,000 children suffering from spina bifida also receive compensation because their illnesses are related to parental exposure to the herbicide.

“A report published Feb. 10 on News Max, in its attack on a lawsuit by a Vietnamese entity against the makers of Agent Orange, improperly criticized the awarding of benefits to veterans who are Agent Orange victims.

“Contrary to the report, the Department of Veterans Affairs does not capriciously award disability compensation. Those benefits, based on the Agent Orange Act of 1991, are awarded on the basis of science, not untested theory. An association between dioxin-laced Agent Orange and the illnesses it causes – including numerous cancers, Type 2 diabetes and spina bifida in veterans’ children – are based on copious research as well as literature reviews by the National Academy of Sciences,
Institute of Medicine. Dioxin is considered one of the planet’s most toxic substances.

“The Agent Orange Act wasn't a radical give-away. It did what Congress does in most of these scientific matters: It asked the
Institute of Medicine to set up a review committee for evaluating the science. All of the conditions for which compensation is awarded are based on the IOM recommendations. Indeed, the IOM reports have ruled out very few conditions and found ‘insufficient evidence’ – in other words the need for further study – for most illnesses.

“The reporter alluded to the flawed Ranch Hand study, which surveyed the health of those who sprayed the defoliant. Although Ranch Hand is too small a study to determine all the conditions that might be related to Agent Orange exposure, it has already shown a higher incidence of prostate cancer and Type-II diabetes. The men and women of The American Legion do not cavalierly dismiss evidence of veterans exposed to Agent Orange who are hurting.

“The men and women of the
U.S. armed forces are among the healthiest Americans – before they enter the crucible of mortal combat. If scientific evidence suggests Agent Orange exposure is somehow related to degenerative conditions that they suffer later in life, then they should be awarded disability compensation and treatment for those conditions at VA. The compensation is meager in comparison to the price they paid.

“The next logical and long-overdue step, which The American Legion and the IOM strongly urge, is for the
U.S. government to fund an epidemiological study of Vietnam veterans’ health, a study focused on herbicide exposure. Columbia University researchers Drs. Jeanne Mager Stellman and Steven Stellman recently developed a research methodology upon which the government and the scientific community can agree.

“Take care of the troops who take care of our freedom. That is the moral covenant between veteran and country that underlies our nation’s defense. The courts will decide the merits of any lawsuit. Rest assured, the merits of compensating Agent Orange victims are proven facts – and the law.”


VA’s AGENT ORANGE Environmental Agents Service:




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