Agent Orange was an herbicide used in Vietnam to defoliate plants during the war. It is made with 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid and 2,4,5-trichlorophenoxyacetic acid. Between 1962 and 1971, around 20 million gallons of the stuff was used to remove foliage that could provide cover for the enemy and to clear land.
Agent Orange has been related to the following illnesses:
- Acute and Subacute Peripheral Neuropathy: Acute and Subacute Peripheral Neuropathy is a condition of the nervous system that causes tingling, numbness, throbbing or sharp pain, muscle weakness, and sensitivity to touch.
- AL Amyloidosis: AL Amyloidosis is a rare condition which can occur because of cancer. It may affect any tissues or organs and causes fatigue, shortness of breath, weakness, and numbness.
- Chloracne: Chloracne is a skin condition that resembles acne and is caused by exposure to dioxin which is in Agent Orange. It is the only skin disorder specifically linked to Agent Orange and other herbicides. The blackheads may be limited to the eyes area or extend to the rest of the head and arms. It can lead to permanent scars.
- Chronic B-cell Leukemias: Chronic B-cell Leukemias are two types of leukemia: PLL and HCL. They are caused by excessive white blood cells. Symptoms include: weakness, recurrent infections, bone pain, weight loss, swollen or enlarged lymph nodes, spleen, or liver, and bruising or bleeding easily.
- Diabetes Mellitus (Type 2): Diabetes Mellitus (Type 2) is a condition where the body cannot use insulin so the body has high levels of blood sugar. Type 2 occurs in adults and some signs are: increased thirst and urination, fatigue, hunger, and weight loss.
- Hodgkin’s Disease: Hodgkin’s Disease is a cancer of the lymphatic system which is part of your immune system. Symptoms include: night sweats, fever, loss of weight and appetite, and swelling in the groin and lymph nodes.
- Ischemic Heart Disease: Ischemic Heart Disease reduces the blood flow and oxygen that gets to the heart. This causes heart damage and congestive heart failure. Signs are chest pain, feeling dizzy, and indigestion.
- Multiple Myeloma: Multiple Myeloma is a cancer of the white blood cells in bone marrow. Many times there are no symptoms at first, then you may experience bone pain and breaks, recurrent infections, numbness, fatigue, anemia, and a high level of calcium in your blood.
- Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma: Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is the more common form of Hodgkin’s Disease and the symptoms include swelling in the lymph nodes or groin, fatigue, night sweats, weakness, difficulty breathing, itchy skin, and weight loss.
- Parkinson’s Disease: Parkinson’s Disease affects the nervous system and muscle movement. It causes tremors, shaking, stiffness, and difficulty walking.
- Porphyria Cutanea Tarda: Porphyria Cutanea Tarda causes the skin to blister and thin where it is exposed to the sun. Signs are blisters followed by crusting and scarring, increased hair growth in those areas, and liver damage.
- Prostate Cancer: Prostate cancer is a common cancer in men and signs of it include blood in the urine, pain in the pelvic area, and difficulty in urination.
- Respiratory Cancers: Respiratory cancers are any cancers of the bronchus, lungs, trachea, or larynx. Symptoms depend on the type: bronchus - coughing up blood and chest pain; lungs - coughing, chest pain, being hoarse; trachea - dry cough, problems in swallowing, being out of breath; and larynx - sore throat, changes in voice, and a lump in your throat.
- Soft Tissue Sarcoma: Soft Tissue Sarcomas are cancers other than Chondrosarcoma, Kaposi’s sarcoma, Mesothelioma, or Osteosarcoma. These cancers occur in the body tissues and are rare. They are characterized by tumors.
In 1970, a study showed birth defects in lab animals and the use of Agent Orange stopped soon after. Soldiers reported several health problems, including cancers, skin rashes, and birth defects and handicaps in their children. Since then many studies have been performed and the list of diseases possibly caused by Agent Orange has grown to the above 14 with additions as recent as 2010.