WHO WE ARE
Agent Orange Advocacy
ENOUGH TOXIC HERBICIDES WERE SPRAYED
to blanket ONE-FOURTH of the country.
Between 1961 and 1971, the U.S. sprayed 12 million gallons of Dioxin-contaminated Agent Orange, in addition to 8 million gallons of other herbicides, on Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia—an average of 5,200 gallons a day for 3,735 days.
By the end of Operation Ranch Hand in 1971, nearly 20,000 sorties had been flown. Over 7,813 square miles of upland and mangrove forests and 781 square miles of crops (an area roughly the size of New Hampshire) were destroyed. In total, more than 66,000 square miles of South Vietnam, along with large areas of Laos and parts of Cambodia, were impacted.
In the U.S. effort to fight an invisible enemy who hid in the jungles while living off the land, Agent Orange and other herbicides were used to defoliate forests and destroy cropland. The destruction will not be rectified for decades to come, as much of the herbicides used in the war were up to 50 times the concentration recommended for killing plants. Two-thirds of the herbicides used were also contaminated with TCDD, a form of Dioxin—a highly toxic substance linked to at least 19 classes of cancer and other medical conditions, as well as several birth defects.
Ever since the war’s ending, the people of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia have been saddled with an invisible enemy of their own. As have those who served in Vietnam during the war, their families, and many others who were exposed to the toxic herbicides where they were manufactured, used or stored.
To learn more about the toxic legacies of Agent Orange and Dioxin, check out our site:
Dioxin Mitigation Measures
War Legacies Project advocates for increased U.S. engagement and financial support to clean up the known Dioxin hotspots in Vietnam, of which there are over 20. These now-designated hotspots were former U.S. military bases in Vietnam. More is needed to research the extent of contamination at other potential hotspots throughout southern Vietnam and Laos.
Though having long equivocated on the issue of Agent Orange’s environmental and human health impact, the U.S. has begun cooperative cleanup efforts with Viet Nam. Over the years, since full diplomatic relations were established in 1995, U.S. aid has increased to support the cleanup efforts of designated hotspots contaminated with Dioxin. This financial commitment has also gone toward programs assisting Vietnamese with disabilities that lived in the heavily sprayed regions or near known Dioxin hotspots.
The Vietnamese government hopes to complete all cleanup projects of hotspots by 2030.
Human Health Impacts
On the human health front, much more needs to be done. We have been able to get funding to provide assistance specifically to those in Vietnam with "severe upper or lower body mobility impairment and/or cognitive or developmental disabilities" from "areas sprayed with Agent Orange and otherwise contaminated with Dioxin."
Unfortunately, this funding only reaches a small percentage of those in need in Vietnam and rarely reaches rural populations. With funding from the Bob Feldman Fund and individual donors, we have been able to provide direct support to those families in Vietnam with severely disabled children believed to be impacted by Agent Orange-Dioxin.
With funding from Green Cross International, the Year of Giving Generously, and individual donors, we are working to determine the extent of the Dioxin contamination in Laos and its impacts on human health through the Laos Agent Orange Survey. Since the Survey began, we have worked with affected people living in heavily sprayed villages in Salavan and Savannakhet provinces ever since.