Agent Orange- An Herbicide Essay

Agent Orange- An Herbicide Essay

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Agent Orange was a herbicide that that was “first developed by the U.S. Army as an
instrument of chemical warfare at Fort Detrick, Maryland.”(Wilcox, 1983, p. introduction/x) It
was later used in the Vietnam conflict as a defoliant on a large scale in Operation Ranch Hand,
where “11,000,000 gallons were sprayed in Vietnam alone (Wilcox, 1983, p. 29). In total,
12,000,000 gallons were sprayed in Southeast Asia.
The basis of Agent Orange starts out as equal parts of 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid
(2,4-D) and 2,4,5-trichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4,5-T) which contained traces of 2,3,7,8-
tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD). TCDD which is a dioxin, was a byproduct of the
manufacturing process. With the amount of Agent Orange used in Vietnam, they suspect that up to 368 pounds of dioxin were produced as the byproduct of 2,4,5-T. Unfortunately, no one knew what the long term health effects of Agent Orange were, but knew it to be an effective defoliant. To this day, studies are still being conducted as to what is the real health effects of the exposure received from Agent Orange. I believe this may be an ongoing debate for many years, as it is not just the American Service member, but the people of Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Thailand that are still trying to get recourse from the effects they have suffered from their exposure to Agent Orange.
After its development by the U.S. Army, it was made as military grade herbicide and not for commercial use. Agent Orange was manufactured under the compulsion of the Defense Production Act of 1950 by nine different companies and was never made available commercially. The name Agent Orange came from the “color-coded stripe that was painted around the fifty five-gallon barrel in wh...

... middle of paper ...

...may be assisting. For the health effects of Agent Orange, time will tell if the dioxin will be passed from generation to generation or stop after the initial mutations. Hopefully, science and medicine can will help the people exposed and give them assistance they request and want.

Works Cited

Agent Orange (Agent Orange) Retrieved May 20, 2014 from

Agent Orange, Operation Ranch Hand: Vietnam War Herbicides (Agent Orange, Operation Ranch Hand: Vietnam War Herbicides) Retrieved May 22, 2014 from

Wilcox, Fred A. (1983). Waiting for an Army to Die, The Tragedy of Agent Orange
New York: Random House

Gough, Michael (1986). Dioxin, Agent Orange
New York: Plenum Press

Cecil, Paul F. (1986). Herbicidal Warfare: The Ranch Hand Project in Vietnam.
New York: Praeger Publishers

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