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Monday July 16 2:55 PM ET       Health - Reuters

US, Vietnamese Collaborate on Agent Orange Studies

By Karla Gale

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - The United States and Vietnam have scheduled a tentative date in 2002 for a joint scientific conference on the health and environmental effects of Agent Orange.

A team of US researchers visited Vietnam this month to discuss plans to study the dioxin-containing herbicide, which the US military used to defoliate forests and jungles during the Vietnam War. Researchers have previously identified ``hot spots'' where levels of Agent Orange are still elevated in soil and sediments, and where blood levels of dioxin among residents indicate continuing exposure. Dioxin has been linked to cancer, endocrine disturbances, diabetes, nerve damage and birth defects.

``The people involved were very congenial and cooperative,'' Dr. Sandra Lange, of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, told Reuters Health.

Lange accompanied a team led by Dr. Christopher Portier of the NIEHS, which included scientists from the US Environmental Protection Agency (news - web sites) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (news - web sites). The American team met with the Vietnamese delegation, led by Dr. Nguyen Ngoc Sinh of the National Environmental Agency in Hanoi.

As a result of the meeting, a joint Vietnam-US scientific conference has been tentatively scheduled for April 2002.

Lange noted that new screening approaches and more economical and rapid testing methods have been developed recently, which will make studying Agent Orange easier. ``We hope to bring experts together from around the world to share information in plenary and topical sessions designed to look at critical issues,'' she said.

 

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 BUSH ADMINISTRATION ASKED TO PROMPTLY SOLVE AGENT ORANGE CONSEQUENCES
 Ha Noi, July 24 (VNA) -- The biggest war veterans organisation of the United
 States, American Legion, has asked the Bush administration to promptly
 investigate and assess the cause of agent orange for leukaemia.  According
 to a recently released survey, war veterans, who were exposed to Agent
 Orange during the war in Viet Nam, and their children are facing a high risk
 of suffering from leukaemia.  The finding, once being confirmed, will force
 the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to give compensation to the victims.
 According to unofficial reports, between 1961 and 1971, U.S. aircraft
 sprayed 72 million litres of toxic chemicals, including 44 million litres of
 Agent Orange, containing 170kg of dioxin, on Viet Nam.  Dioxin is an
 extremely poisonous chemical that causes cancer, immune system deficiency
 and inborn defects.--VNA
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