From 1961 to 1971 the
US government sprayed more than 21 million gallons of
herbicides and defoliants over vast areas of southern and
central Viet Nam, and to a lesser extent in Laos and
Cambodia. The most commonly used herbicide was called Agent
Orange. Two-thirds of these chemicals were contaminated with
TCDD - dioxin, a highly toxic substance linked to at least
thirteen classes of cancers and several birth defects.
According to research
by Jeanne Stellman et al of Columbia University a least 4.8
million Vietnamese civilians were living in the areas
sprayed by airplane. This figure does not include the US
soldiers, the Vietnamese soldiers (on both sides of the
war), Vietnamese civilians who traveled through the sprayed
regions, or those that worked on the military bases which
were frequently sprayed.
5 million acres of
mangrove and upland forest were defoliated and 500,000 acres
of crops were destroyed, approximately 12% of southern Viet
In addition, the US
Department of Defense used dioxin contaminated herbicides
along the DMZ in Korea and performed tests of these
herbicides at numerous locations throughout the US,
Thailand, Puerto Rico, and
New Brunswick, Canada.
Communities such as Midland, MI, Nitro, WV, Newark Bay, and
Gulfport, MS are still dealing with the ongoing impacts of
the manufacture or storage of the toxic herbicides by Dow,
Monsanto, Diamond Shamrock, Hercules and the other
manufacturers of the herbicides.