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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

The Living on Earth Almanac

Air Date: Week of

This week, facts about... Agent Orange.


CURWOOD: It's been 5 years now since the National Academy of Sciences released its findings on Agent Orange. Agent Orange is best known for defoliating the jungles of Vietnam. American and South Vietnamese soldiers sprayed it to destroy the crops and jungle cover of enemy troops. First used in 1961, it was discontinued in 1971. By then, 36% of all mangrove forests in South Vietnam had been denuded. There was a cost to humans as well. Agent Orange was contaminated with dioxin. Researchers have blamed it for Hodgkin's Disease and prostate cancer in veterans, and spina bifida in their children. For years the Pentagon dismissed veterans' claims of Agent Orange- related illnesses. But after the Academy study, the Clinton Administration did finally extend benefits to all veterans and their families who could have suffered from exposure.Vietnamese citizens and soldiers have received nothing, although a high rate of birth defects in Vietnam is widely attributed to Agent Orange. And for this week, that's the Living on Earth Almanac.



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