Vietnam Combat Vet


This information is for: those who have found it difficult to obtain the truth, from their government.

There has been much discussion in regards to the use of herbicide in the Republic of Vietnam. Some people have gone so far as to make fun of those exposed to this type of defoliant. Some people even attempted to downplay the affect on the obviously affected. Separate agencies of the United States government have made entirely different decisions regarding the danger involved.

Since 1950, most of the chemical industry has known the toxic effect of the combination of the two main ingredients of the herbicide we now call AGENT ORANGE. If the manufacturing of the herbicide was not carefully controlled, a dioxin was produced called contaminate TCDD. This dioxin was extremely dangerous and it was stated by scientists that it caused severe damage to animal life. The Agent Orange produced for the use in Vietnam had 30-40 parts per million of the contaminant.

Federal regulations in regard to this herbicide had been discussed a number of times between 1948 and 1951. It was registered in 1948. In 1951 the military's choice was to use an equal mixture of the developed mixtures of BUTYL ESTERS of the chemical 2, 4-D and 2, 4, 5-T. The effectiveness of this mixture was tested in a four mile square at Fort Drum, NY. During February 1961 the United States conducted a large scale application in Vietnam.
The chemical was never tested for its toxic effects by the government. The USDA, which was responsible for its testing, left the decision up to the chemical companies to determine the safety of the people who would be exposed, the Americans in combat! For this chemical was used to clear areas our fighting forces were protecting. The defoliant was used to benefit our side.

Several years after the use of this herbicide began; the EPA tested it for use in the United States by the companies that wished to clear right of ways for power companies and other assorted reasons. The EPA came up with startling requirements: the TCDD could not exceed 1 ppm (part per million); the material could not be applied more than once per year; the product could not be used near food grown for human consumption; it could not be used near streams or ponds where animals consumed by humans would drink; and strict safety equipment would be worn to protect those who applied the material. Meanwhile in 1969 OSHA came down on the manufacturing of this chemical in guidelines, which were closely followed, both in the application and manufacturing in the United States.

We now must remember the product to be used in the USA contained 1 ppm while the product in Vietnam contained 30-40 ppm. This deadly, to some forms of animal life, chemical was being dropped, on our own soldiers, sailors, and marines in Vietnam on a regular basis, most often as once per quarter rather than annually. We have evidence that shows mistakes in the mixing of Agent Orange that on some applications the pure concentrate was applied. One example was at Long Binh in March 1969. The Duty Officers Log showed that 300 gallons of uncut material was sprayed in the watershed area. The men and women in the area were never notified of the over spray. The herbicide was sprayed by helicopter, not an airplane; thus, never included in Ranch Hand reports.
In a seldom spoken of disposal of the Agent Orange at the Johnston Atoll, years after the war was finished, the Operation Ranch Hand completed its final job in the herbicide program involving Agent Orange. The remaining supply of the chemicals were burned on the island, carefully monitored by Battelle Columbus Laboratories. The in charge officers made sure every person involved wore protective gear. Every safety precaution was taken, and well should have been taken, just as they should have done in Vietnam but didn't. One of the Battelle employees involved in the project informed me the chemical was considered hazardous and was treated as such by the USAF (Operation Ranch Hand). These are the same people (USAF), who maintain even today there were no harmful effects.
Again, we have various agencies claiming different positions on the same Agent Orange issues. The recent Center for Disease Control (CDC) studies in regard to Vietnam veterans (7,942) compared to non-Vietnam veterans (7,364) have shown some striking notations in the JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION, May 13, 1988 and thus we will not quote. We will advise you that after reading the complete article we have noted the CDC failed to have adequate assets to examine rare cancers. The report also stated on page 2,712 of volume 259, number 18 that they examined a few who had been heavily exposed to the herbicide. There was a notable difference in sperm count. Overall, the report was one of anti-selection of what was needed, those that were exposed to the herbicide.
It is now time for Congress to face the facts, the Vietnam war started years before the Gulf of Tonkin incident. The war powers act invoked for President Johnson was after the fact. Agent Orange was used in Vietnam in early 1961 and Americans were exposed on that date and thereafter until its use was discontinued and effect removed.

In regards to the question of toxic poison the substance which is commonly referred to as "Agent Orange", which is the result of exposure to TCDD or 2,4,5-T and 2,4-D when they are combined into one product.
Since 1950 most of the chemical industry has known that large quantities of TCDD may be formed as a by-product of the 2, 4, 5-T manufacturing process if the technical procedures were not carefully controlled. At one time, 2, 4, 5-T which contained 30-40 ppm of TCDD was produced. After concern was raised in 1969, regarding the extremely toxic effects of TCDD, the manufacturing process was changed and by 1971 industry had reduced TCDD content in commercial samples to near 1 ppm, and several foreign countries now produced commercial 2, 4, 5-T containing less than 0.5 ppm of TCDD. The combination of 2, 4, 5-T and 2, 4-D is Agent Orange.
Federal regulations in regard to the herbicide 2, 3, 7, 8-TCDD have been discussed a number of times since 1948 when it was registered in March of that year. By 1951, tests determined the herbicide of choice for military defoliant was an equal mixture of butyl esters of 2, 4-D and 2, 4, 5-T. The effectiveness of this formulation was established in 1959 in a large scale test over four square miles at Fort Drum, New York. In 1961 the D.O.D. conducted large scale aerial application in Southeast Asia.
First, the chemical was under the jurisdiction of the USDA. Later the function was transferred to the EPA. On April 13, 1966 the USDA and the EPA did in fact announce in the FEDERAL REGISTER the abolition of the "no." (of drug and chemical registration), as scientifically unattainable. Future registrations were to be granted on the basis of either negligible residue or permissible residue. Industry was given until December 31, 1967 to comply by obtaining tolerances for residues of 2, 4, 5-T in all treated food, feed products and by-products. On May 1, 1971 the EPA canceled all 2, 4, 5,-T uses on food crops that were intended for human consumption. Dow & Hercules chemical companies filed against the action so they could continue production of the herbicide. The agreement was reached that the uses of 2, 4, 5-T could include forests, range land, and rights of way provided the TCDD was limited to 1 ppm contamination. The agreement as well stated the application would not be more than once per year, and the proper caution be made that it would not come into contact with humans. MEANWHILE IN VIETNAM THE SPRAY OF THE STRONGER HERBICIDE CONTINUED TO FALL ON OUR OWN DEFENDERS, the American Soldier, Marine, Sailor, and Airman. What we refer to as TCDD is a dioxin consisting of 2, 3, 7, 8-TCDD: tetrachlor isomer of p-dibenzo dioxin: TCDD. It has been called the most lethal synthetic chemical known to man; but, it is only one group of related aromatic, tricyclic compounds.
Why did the U.S. not keep accurate records in the early applications of the herbicides? The toxic nature of defoliates was known long before the TCDD was applied on a regular basis. To also illustrate my point, the Army made entries in the "DUTY OFFICERS LOG" on the errors often committed in spraying, the persons in those areas were never notified of a possible problem arising in the future, when in fact the Army admitted on form DA 1594, dated March 1969, that an uncut supply of Agent Orange in the amount of 300 gallons was applied in pure form. IT CLEARLY STATED IN ALL INSTRUCTIONS THAT THE MATERIAL MUST BE "CUT" BY EITHER DIESEL FUEL OR WATER! The report stated that the "ORANGE CODE" was applied directly into the watersheds (potable water supply). The report continues, "ORANGE HERBICIDE has a LD 50 for rats of approximately 500mg/kg of body weight, as compared to aspirin (1750mg/kg) and DDT (130mg/kg). Toxicological data against human being is relatively lacking". Why were the military personnel not advised of the toxic nature of the substance used in the application? One answer may be a total lack of concern for the far reaching affects and only the immediate effect was considered.
In a report (A VIDF-GC) as of 10 February 1969, OPERATION REPORT FOR QUARTERLY PERIOD ENDING 31 JANUARY 1969, the following is stated: "the Division has some difficulty in obtaining approval for the use of herbicides from the Quang Tin Province Chief. Personnel of the Division Chemical Section defoliated much of the CLDC perimeter in November, and are presently engaged in completing coverage". As we receive reports from the U.S. Army & Joint Services Environmental Support Group, we compare these to the data we have found through research from many sources. The picture is becoming clear, if the use and manner of the substance known as Agent Orange were put on trial the verdict would be guilty!
One of the major problems with the release of information to the public in regards to the chemical company accidents in private industry is the fact these companies may or may not release the information on what actually happened. Due to the liability of the accident the situation may be covered up. To give an example: a major spill of dioxin (Agent Orange formula, exactly) in a chemical plant in Nitro, West Virginia in 1949, has been referred to many times by industry and government alike, no significant changes. However, the scientists and the doctors involved in each and every report were employed by the company. TCDD exposure will cause death in animals and humans, depending on the exposure time and amount. It has been proven and accepted by the scientific community that the symptomatology and effects induced by a wide range of factors including dosage, and duration of exposure, presence of other toxic chemicals and the age, sex, and reproductive status of the exposed. The one isolated feature of TCDD from other chemicals is that of the death of the animal exposed may be delayed for several weeks, the cause of death may not be apparent in many species even with an autopsy or tissue examination. Dow Chemical was aware since 1950 of the high possibility that the severely acnegenic impurities were formed in TCP, as the Germans had isolated the dioxin. Dow denied the toxic facts and reported they monitored the situation and the 2, 4; 5-T was absolutely non-toxic. By 1965 Dow confirmed the toxic contaminant was TCDD, and developed a gas chromatographic technique sensitive to 1 ppm of TCDD in TCP 2, 4, 5-T. Fact: THE USDA DID NOT DO TESTS, they relied on chemical firms. Our government continued to spray in Vietnam with no regard to the evidence being shown in private, as well as, government research.
In a review of reports published in September 1978 from OSHA, I have compared that specific data with the position of the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Air Force studies, as well as other government agencies. If you will compare the prior data I have submitted, you will see conflicting information from the same government. To briefly quote from OSHA:


This guideline is intended as a source of information for employees, employers, physicians, industrial hygienists and other occupational health professionals who may have a need for such information. It does not attempt to present all data; rather it presents information and data in summary form.
Permissible Exposure Limit
The current OSHA standard for 2, 4, 5-T is 10 milligrams of 2, 4, 5-T per cubic meter of air (mg/, m3) average over an eight hour work shift.
Health Hazard Information
Routes Of Exposure
2, 4, 5-T can affect the body if it is inhaled or if it comes into contact with the eyes or skin. It can also affect the body if it is swallowed.
Effects Of Overexposure
Exposure to 2, 4, 5-T may cause abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and blood in the stool. It may also cause acne and liver damage. Animal experiments have shown these contaminants may produce damage in unborn rats.
Reporting Signs and Symptoms
A physician should be contacted if anyone develops any signs or symptoms and suspect that they are caused by exposure to 2, 4, 5-T.

Summary of Toxicology
2, 4, 5-T (2, 4, 5-Trichlorophenoxyacetic acid) is of low toxicity. The oral LD50 for dogs is in the range of 100/mg/kg or higher; effects are limited to a slight to moderate stiffness in the hind legs with the development of ataxia. Contaminants of commercial preparations of 2,4,5-T have been 2,3,6,7-Tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD), a potent acnegenic agent which is hepatotoxic in animals; they are presented as unwanted side products of synthesis of 2,4,5-T. In a study of 73 workers in a 2,4,5-T manufacturing plant, 13 had moderate to severe acne from dermatitis (chloracne) and 22 had gastrointestinal complaints, such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, liver dysfunction was found; although no air samples results were reported, the chloracne was thought to be a result of exposure to TCDD. 2, 4, 5-T dust is a slight irritant of the skin.

Chemical and Physical Properties
Physical Data
1. Molecular weight: 255.5
2. Boiling point (760 mm Hg); Decomposes above melting point
3. Specific gravity (water=1): Greater
4. Vapor Density (air+1 at boiling point of 2, 4, 5-T): Not applicable
5. Melting point: 158 Celsius (316 Fahrenheit) decomposition
There is also a similar report on 2, 4-D.

Formula: Cl2C6H3OCH2COOH
Synonyms: 2, 4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid
Appearance and odor: Colorless and odorless solid
The 1978 OSHA standard was set at 10mg per cubic meter of air averaged over an eight hour work shift.

2, 4-D can affect the body if it is inhaled, contacts the skin or eyes or swallowed. It may enter through the skin.
1. Short term may cause weakness, stupor, muscle twitching and convulsions. It may
cause a rash and may cause liver damage
. 2. Long term is not known; the issue is clouded by politics.
3. Exposure requires a physician.


2, 4-D dust causes signs of both hypo- and hyper excitation of the central nervous system in animals. Sudden death is possible in massive doses. I have no evidence in any death of a human by ventricular fibrillation. Persons or animals exposed to massive dosages would have convulsions of a violent nature.
Contact on the skin will cause dermatitis.
1. Molecular weight: 212
2. Boiling point (760 mm Hg): Decomposes
3. Specific gravity (water=1): 1.1(estimated)
4. Vapor density (air=1 at boiling point of 2, 4-D): 7.63
5. Melting point 140C (248 F)
6. Vapor pressure at 20C (68 F): Essentially zero
7. Solubility in water, at 20C (68 F): 0.07ppm
8. Evaporation rate (butyl acetate=1): N/A
REACTIVITY: contact with strong oxidizers may cause fires and explosions.
A very important note: in 1978 OSHA report we have just quoted also stated the following "Parenteral administration to dogs has caused sneezing, lacrimation, and rubbing of the eyes, along with gastrointestinal disturbances." In 1991 it was learned that dogs exposed to 2, 4-D used in normal weed control in backyard America became victims of cancer at unusually high rates.


There are finally new rules falling into place as guidelines for the VA to adjudicate claims related to exposure to Agent Orange. It seems as if it has been a major undertaking for the VA to finally recognize the devastation placed upon the victims of exposure to herbicides in Vietnam. We need to understand that the following subject, soft tissue sarcoma, is one of many subjects under consideration. The VA has moved painfully slow in the quest to make things right for the affected veterans. In mid 1992 I saw two claims under close scrutiny for soft tissue sarcomas, one was denied although it seems to meet the following criteria. The claim was actually to be approved; but there was a question of this condition not being one of the approved cancers. Thus, the veteran's widow must wait until the National Academy of Science and the VA reach an accord. We must remember the VA cannot give the veteran anything they are not required by law to give.
In order to prove disability (or death) compensation for soft tissue sarcoma under the new rule, the veteran or survivor must show service in Vietnam, the waters off shore, (which have found to have an extremely high risk factor) or other duty in Vietnam areas that may have reason to support a claim including visitation to Vietnam. Also required is that the veteran first developed soft tissue sarcoma after he or she was in Vietnam. There is no requirement under this set of rules to prove exposure to herbicides including Agent Orange. This serves a two fold purpose: first, the VA still does not admit Agent Orange causes any problem other than chloracne; second, it can be used to prevent blanket claims of exposure and cause conditions yet undetected. The following are conditions considered as soft tissue sarcoma: adult fibro sarcoma; dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans; malignant fibrous histiocytoma; liposarcoma; leiomyosarcoma; epithelioid leiomyosarcoma (malignant leiomyoblastoma); rhabdomyosarcoma; ectomesenchymoma; angiosarcoma (hemangiosarcoma and lymphangiosarcoma); proliferating (systematic) angio endotheliomatosis; malignant glomus tumor; malignant hemangiopericytoma; synovial sarcoma; malignant giant
cell tumor of the tendon sheath; malignant schwanna; malignant mesenchymoma; malignant granular cell tumor; alveolar soft tissue sarcoma, epithelioid sarcoma; clear cell sarcoma of tendons and aponeuroses. These are listed, but it by no means excludes the possibility of others being accepted and added as accepted conditions. We must remember the VA will accept only those conditions mandated to them, it is the law. It will be to our advantage to check each and every condition, prior to submittal of a claim, so that we understand the exact relationship of the soft tissue sarcoma and its direct relationship with the exposure to Agent Orange.
It would seem as if with all of the publicity given to the new regulations regarding AGENT ORANGE, we would be seeing a tremendous explosion of veterans being awarded benefits. Instead we see a dribble coming down from the IVORY TOWER allowing a select few (albeit good guys) awards for very rare conditions; thus, preventing a severe hit on the 'beloved budget' that seems to control everything in Washington, D.C. To cite an example of nit picking, the VA had approved "Non Hodgkin's Lymphoma" yet it did not consider Hodgkin's Disease, why we asked, and the answers given were vague indeed, (that is if you got an answer). The VA was to be under the gun on this issue as Hodgkin's Disease has similar frequency rate as Non Hodgkin's Lymphoma, although somewhat less. To define the two in comparative facts: Hodgkin's Disease is a chronic disease with lymphoreticular proliferation of unknown cause that may be present in localized or disseminated form. Annually in the USA, 5,000 to 6,000 new cases are diagnosed. The male to female ratio is 1.4 to 1. Peaks in age have been age 34 and age 54. Sound like a familiar age group? Considering the research I used in this chapter is the MERCK MANUAL 1982 EDITION. It is apparent the ages fall into the Vietnam veteran age groupings. The most common staging system is the Ann Arbor method. Stage I: disease limited to one anatomic lymph node region. Stage II: involving two or more anatomic lymph nodes on the same side of the diaphragm. Stage III: disease on both sides of the diaphragm involving lymph nodes of the spleen. Stage IV: extranodal involvement, such as bone marrow, lung or liver.
Non Hodgkin's Lymphoma is a heterogeneous group of diseases, consisting of neoplastic proliferation of lymphoid cells that usually disseminate throughout the body. The terms we have used in the past lymph sarcoma and reticulum cell sarcoma have been replaced by newer terms. Change of the names has made no difference in the progression of the disease. Their courses vary from rapidly fatal to very indolent and initially well tolerated. The classifications are: (1) malignant lymphoma undifferentiated Burketts type or non Burketts (allomorphic type); (2) malignant lymphoma, histolytic; (3) malignant lymphoma, lymphocyte (well differentiated) or (4) poorly differentiated; (5) malignant lymphoma, lymphoblast. The classes are further divided into nodular or diffuse except for 1 and 5 which only appear in a diffuse pattern. Nodular involvement includes cases in which fibrous strands separate the lymphoma infiltrate into nodules. Non Hodgkin's lymphomas must be differentiated from Hodgkin's disease, and other causes of lymphadenopathy. There are 7,000 to 8,000 new cases per year. Lymphoma is a heterogeneous group of neoplasms arising in the reticuloendothelial and lymphatic systems. The major types are described above, there are several other forms not discussed. Neither the VA or any other agency had disclosed information that would lead anyone to believe that Hodgkin's disease is any less a residual of exposure to Agent Orange than non Hodgkin's lymphoma. It seems as if the VA has found another way to admit partial benefits to some Vietnam veterans while still denying benefits to equal or more amounts of other veterans.

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