Asked Questions About
What was Agent Orange?
Agent Orange was a herbicide developed for military use. Chemically, the
product was a 50/50 mix of two herbicides, 2,4,-D (2,4, dichlorophenoxyacetic
acid) and 2,4,5-T (2,4,5 trichlorophenoxyacetic acid). These herbicides were
both developed as weed killers in the 1940's, and were effective against broad
leaf plants and several crops.
Why did the military use herbicides?
Herbicides were developed to be deployed in enemy areas to deny cover and
concealment to the enemy. In dense terrain particularly, the use of herbicides
to destroy covering vegetation was to protect American and allied troops from
ambush or other undetected movement of the enemy.
Prior to it's introduction for use in Vietnam,
was Agent Orange used in the United States?
Yes. During the testing phase of Agent Orange, use tests were carried
out at Fort Detrick, Maryland, Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, and Camp Drum
in New York. Other testing was also conducted in Thailand in the early 1960's.
For information on other herbicides used in Vietnam, go here: The
Fifteen Herbicides Used in Vietnam
Why was the product called Agent Orange?
The name signifies orange identifying bands that were used on the fifty-five
gallon drums the product was shipped in. Other herbicides were also used in
Vietnam, and were known by color coded names too, such Agent White, Agent
Blue, Agent Purple, Agent Pink and Agent Green were also used.
Who were the manufacturers who produced Agent
Orange for the military?
Dow, Monsanto, Diamond Shamrock Corporation, Hercules Inc., Uniroyal Inc., T-H
Agricultural & Nutrition Company, and Thompson Chemicals Corporation.
These companies were subjects of a class action lawsuit filed originally in
1979 and settled out of court in 1987 for $180 million. The official name of
the lawsuit was Multidistrict litigation 381 (MDL 381), and was designated In
re Agent Orange Product Liability Litigation.
I want (or I had) an "Agent Orange
Test", sometimes thought to be given by the VA -- What is this?
There is no such thing as an Agent Orange Test.
This is often confused with two things:
1. The Agent Orange screening physical given at VA Medical Centers:
This test is nothing more that a general physical which includes examination,
X-rays and blood work. It does not detect Agent Orange exposure.
physical is useful only as any routine physical is useful in early detection
of disease or health problems. The VA does keep these results in a registry.
2. Dioxin analysis of the blood or fatty tissue:
sophisticated tests which will measure dioxin levels in both blood and fatty
tissues. (Dioxin is the unwanted byproduct in Agent Orange). These tests are
research-oriented only, and have never been available on a large-scale or
clinical basis. The VA does not perform these tests. Only a few laboratories
in the world are able to do this testing, and it is usually quite expensive,
around $1500-$2000 per test.
Can I sue the government or the chemical
No. Title 38 of the United States Code prohibits veterans from suing the
government for injuries suffered while in the military. A class action suit
was filed in behalf of veterans in 1979 against the chemical companies and
settled out of court. The final funds in this legal action were distributed by
1992. Additional attempts to sue the manufacturers have been attempted, and
have been prohibited by the courts. The most strongly fought of these legal
battles, Ivy vs. Diamond Shamrock
was supported in behalf of the
plaintiff by attorney generals in all fifty states, the Supreme Court,
however, refused to hear the arguments and that case ended in 1992. In the
parlance of the court, the issue is "res judicata" or "the
matter is settled".