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Go Back   Armchair General and HistoryNet >> The Best Forums in History > Historical Events & Eras > Vietnam War

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Vietnam War The Battle for Vietnam. .

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  #31  
Old 19 May 11, 16:44
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Acheron View Post
Okay, fair enough, but in that case, may I worry that in the worst case human skin will absorb the chemicals, too, but at the very least clothing will, meaning that your clothes will keep rubbing a toxic chemical over your skin?
Many of those chemicals are well adsorbed by the skin which is why the warning labels about using rubber gloves, etc... Dioxins, being fat soluble, is a natural for skin adsorption.

The cloth would have to be wet with the stuff to cause skin adsorption and possible irritation. Then, there is CS powder that once in your clothes is a constant irritant until they are properly washed as some of the guys found out the hard way when destroying a rice cashe.

Many of the Cold War nerve gases are based upon skin adsorption. The only defense against them is a full rubber body suit with gas mask and an epipen for emergency treatment. Try wearing something like that during the war in Iraq where the threat of nerve gas was real.
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  #32  
Old 19 May 11, 20:34
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Is there something I am missing about the path by which dioxin comes to affect the body?
I think adsorption is basically the sticking of a substance to a surface while absorbtion is the passing through it.
Sometimes being clear about the terms helps in being clear about the subject.
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  #33  
Old 19 May 11, 22:12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KEN JENSEN View Post
The burning of human feces increased the toxicity of dioxins that became airborne.

The following LINK is proof that RR is qualified for a special award patch (see LINK FIRST - Special Award follows)...

Drum roll please for Special Award...

Why, thank ya, Ken. It may be a little late, but it's good to finally get this treasured REMF honor bestowed. I still get a whiff of diesel and chit every now and then and it snaps me back . . . (no nightmares, 'though).

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  #34  
Old 20 May 11, 07:10
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Dau Bung

Synthetic chemistry advanced rapidly in the 1930s and by the early 40s, a range of new pesticides had been developed, including organochlorine insecticides like DDT. In 1937 the first organophosphate compounds were synthesized by a group of German chemists. These very potent compounds were kept secret during World War II and were originally developed as potential chemical warfare agents. After the war, these organophosphate compounds were re-purposed as insecticides, and many organophosphate insecticides continue to be used today.


Herbicides were developed after WWII in order to increase food production and create possible warfare agents. In 1946, the first commercially available chlorine-based herbicides were marketed to kill broadleaf plants. This class of compounds includes 2,4-D (2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid) and 2,4,5-T (2,4,5-Trichlorophenoxyacetic acid), synthetic auxins (plant hormones) that disrupt plant growth. These herbicides have been extensively utilized in agriculture and to clear roadsides and rights of way. 2,4,5-T was used extensively during the Vietnam War to defoliate jungle plants. During the manufacturing process, 2,4,5-T was often contaminated with the persistent and very toxic dioxin, TCDD (2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin). Dioxins, like other chlorinated compounds including DDT, bio-accumulate in body fat and persist in the environment for many years (the soil half-life is 10 to 12 years). Dioxins are classified as carcinogens and are also known to affect the reproductive and immune systems. Through statistical analysis the VA has determined the effects of dioxin and the diseases it causes in veterans as compared to their non-veteran age-group peers. Junk Science? Yah right.

The U.S. EPA cancelled the use of 2,4,5-T because of the dioxin contamination, but 2,4-D is still one of the most widely used herbicides.

The mechanism of ACTION of this class of chemicals is POORLY understood, but the herbicides appear to interact with plant growth hormones. Therefore it effects on a molecular/cellular level, no wonder the testing is so expensive and specialized. Whether the poison is absorbed through the skin or delivered by any other means is irrelevant.

My own experience with the after effects of Agent Orange are; the removal of 1/3rd of my colon in 2000(I was 49 years old)with a real cool scar that runs from my crotch to my sternum, a PSA prostrate test score of 9.5 (below 4.0 is considered normal, non cancerous) and a loss of feeling in my extremities. No one in my very large extended family ever had any cancers of the stomach or neuropathic problems according to my mother. After my colon was operated on I asked the doctors if the VA ever tested tissue for the presence of Agent Orange. I was told that every organic tissue on earth possessed a measurable amount of dioxin and that the VA didn't bother with the expensive test, my tumor was then 'presupposed to be caused by Agent Orange',(VA's lingo). For this and the other effects I receive 187$ a month compensation. As stated, the mechanism of how dioxin effects plants is POORLY understood just as the mechanism of it's effects on other organisms is even less understood. I have been to the 1st Division firebase, Thunder 3 on Highway 13 a few miles north of Lia Khe a number of times recently, in the AO where I had served as an infantryman in 1969-70. To this day nothing is growing where the base stood but a few sparse weeds (a10 year half-life?). So I will put my personal agent orange effects and experiences on the table against the age related anecdotal BS 'junk science' or smoking and drinking self abuse theory any day of the week( babies born with dioxin related birth defects debunks the age/abuse related BS, as do the thousands of children with dioxin related diseases, IMO). I quit smoking in 1978 btw and have been healthy and hard working almost all my life . The self proclaimed pseudo-authorities on this thread may rethink their opinions if they experienced the effects of dioxin on themselves.
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  #35  
Old 20 May 11, 08:04
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Three-six View Post
Is there something I am missing about the path by which dioxin comes to affect the body?
I think adsorption is basically the sticking of a substance to a surface while absorption is the passing through it.
Sometimes being clear about the terms helps in being clear about the subject.
Good point. The Cold War nerve agents were designed to do both, stick and soak in. There were training procedures to remove droplets of it from the skin and epipens to buy you some time from the toxic effects if absorbed. None of this would do you any good if you weren't wearing a full CS body suit at the time of attack.

Being diluted with water or mineral oil for spraying, the herbicides would also have done both. Spraying from the air, a common practice, put an awful lot of the vapor into the air and created an inhalation hazard.

And, as posted along with links, air bases and the surrounding area where this stuff was handled, are still so badly contaminated from the careless handling of this stuff, that little will grow there to this day.
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  #36  
Old 20 May 11, 08:12
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As one of the "pseudo-authorities"...

Statistics can establish relations (correlation), not cause and effect. The important implication of this is that even with a strong correlation, one cannot know the cause of any particular case.

Brown areas do not establish the persistence of TCDD. For one, it was the 2,4,-D and 2,4,5-T that was the defoliant. Also, given its very low solubility in water and its affinity for sorption (being attached to charged surfaces rather than in the water), little could be taken up by plants over their life span. This is quite different than bioaccumulation. It would settle the question if someone actually sampled for TCDD in the soil.

While I do not suffer from diseases linked to AO, my friend the Senior Advisor (52nd BDQ) died several years ago from complications associated with Type II diabetes. Was it caused by, or enhanced by AO? I do not know. As a scientist, I appreciate the difficulties of establishing cause and effect. So I think the VA is correct in "erring" on the conservative side, and assuming a causal relation. But I disagree with statements concerning proven causation.
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Old 20 May 11, 08:24
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I am curious about the statement

"After my colon was operated on I asked the doctors if the VA ever tested tissue for the presence of Agent Orange. I was told that every organic tissue on earth possessed a measurable amount of dioxin and that the VA didn't bother with the expensive test...".

I have never heard of the claim that all tissue will contain some TCDD. If this is true, why is exposure considered hazardous at any level? We should all be dead.
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Old 20 May 11, 08:32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SnortyRaisin View Post
As one of the "pseudo-authorities"...

Statistics can establish relations (correlation), not cause and effect. The important implication of this is that even with a strong correlation, one cannot know the cause of any particular case.

Brown areas do not establish the persistence of TCDD. For one, it was the 2,4,-D and 2,4,5-T that was the defoliant. Also, given its very low solubility in water and its affinity for sorption (being attached to charged surfaces rather than in the water), little could be taken up by plants over their life span. This is quite different than bioaccumulation. It would settle the question if someone actually sampled for TCDD in the soil.

While I do not suffer from diseases linked to AO, my friend the Senior Advisor (52nd BDQ) died several years ago from complications associated with Type II diabetes. Was it caused by, or enhanced by AO? I do not know. As a scientist, I appreciate the difficulties of establishing cause and effect. So I think the VA is correct in "erring" on the conservative side, and assuming a causal relation. But I disagree with statements concerning proven causation.
We have a lot of arguments over this in the Tittabawassee River basin where there are places highly contaminated by Dioxin and other chemicals as a result of manufacturing by Dow and Michigan Chemical in the 60s. Back then, the river smelled of chemicals and rarely froze over in the winter. Most of this stuff is trapped in the sediment. Testing is very expensive and requires a lot of sampling to get an accurate result.

Determining cause and effect, from other then the obvious symptoms from direct exposure, can only be done through statistics and an expensive lab test of your body fat. Statistics have shown that those exposed to Agent Orange in Vietnam have a far higher rate of the various ailments then the population in general.

So far, that doesn't seem to be the case among non Vietnam Veterans living along the Tittabawassee River.

Currently, thanks to pollution controls and waste treatment, the river has become clean enough to freeze over in the winter and support a large population of Walleye that come upriver to spawn in the Spring.
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  #39  
Old 20 May 11, 09:27
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Snorty, everybody, sorry about the 'Pseudo' wisecrack. I guess I am overly sensative about the issue. I only quoted one of the surgeons who made that statement in reference to my questions concerning the pathology of my tumor. His statement I believe, was that the environment is so polluted by dioxin and the insidious nature of dioxin that there is a small amount of it in every living organism much like DDT is. I don't think he meant that the amount was lethal but merely present if one looked/tested deeply enough.
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Old 20 May 11, 10:02
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Actually, I would be interested in any scientific literature on TCDD levels found in humans. I know from a legal case in the early 1980's that it was very expensive (then) to test for TCDD as the reported values in a well were in the low parts per quadrillion range (6 orders of magnitude lower than the parts per billion). I recall at least one study that claimed it could be found in chimney soot at low levels, so it may well be ubiquitous. A study of fish tissue about 20 years ago found TCDD (I do not recall the levels) - the fish were in a pond adjacent to where AO had been stored before being loaded on planes at Eglin AFB. This is an example of bio-accumulation, as the fish were exposed through their food.
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Old 20 May 11, 12:03
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sgnsteve View Post
I have been to the 1st Division firebase, Thunder 3 on Highway 13 a few miles north of Lia Khe a number of times recently, in the AO where I had served as an infantryman in 1969-70. To this day nothing is growing where the base stood but a few sparse weeds (a10 year half-life?). So I will put my personal agent orange effects and experiences on the table against the age related anecdotal BS 'junk science'...
.
the self proclaimed pseudo-authorities on this thread may rethink their opinions if they experienced the effects of dioxin on themselves.
Steve, I'm sure I can put my exposure to AO on the table with yours; as you know, I too operated all up and down Thunder Road to include Thunder 3 thru 11 during the 1967-68 period when areas along Hwy 13 (both east and west sides) were sprayed quite a bit, along with much Rome Plowing.

Why do you have cancer and I don't? Puzzles the chit out of me. My brother, never in Vietnam, has Prostate Cancer, why not me? Why do a few of my own troops get compensation for AO related problems (Cancer, Diabetes); hell they went where I went. Most all my family on my mother's side (including my Grandma, Mom, and two uncles) has died from related Diabetes problems; and I have no trace of such. Puzzles the chit out of me.

I believe that all of us have different body immunity traits. I've been lucky and or blessed; call it what you want. You may have been susceptible to cancer, Vietnam or not. Cancer sometimes (many times) skips generations. Your exposure to AO just may have been the necessary irritant to bring out your cancer sooner in life than later in life - who the frig knows?

heeheehee, The areas you and I both worked (III Corps) were/was heavily saturated....






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Old 20 May 11, 16:00
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After I got out of the military and majored in agriculture I found out what herbicides are, how they react, how they function, etc. All of which I was ignorant while in 'Nam.

There were several hebicides sprayed alone or in mixes during our Vietnam years of engagement. The most famous was Agent Orange, and also probably the most used one. It was a combination of 2,4-Dicholorophenonyactic acid and 2,4,5-Tricholorophyneoxyactic acid. For those who have taken organic chemistry the number relate to where on the aromatic ring the CL atoms are bonded. Both are naturally occuring chemiclas found in plants, 2,4-D in grasses and 2,4,5-T in shrubs and trees. Both are growth hormones and too much of a good thing does make the plants literally grow to death. Both were found and manufactured during the end of WWII by the US Army Chemical Corps. If the atom bombs had not worked plans were being made to spray all the islands of Japan and literally starve the population to surrender.

Both chemicals are completely safe...in their pure form. Unfortunately dioxin was a byproduct of the manufacturing process at that time with repercussions no one dreamed of.

2,4-D is the most widely used herbicde in the world, and one of the safest to people and animals.

2,4,5-T was the only chemically which was ever banned by the EPA under an 'emergency recall' criteria. It was done under Jimmy Carter when the head of the EPA was overseas and Carol Browner was the acting head of EPA. It was a purely political response and there was no scientific reason for it since like 2,4-D the manufacturing process had been changed to take out dioxin. It'd be interesting to look at her bank account since immediately after the ban Dow-Elanco came out with a brand new herbicide to kill brush and trees, though much more expensive.

To this day I cannot believe that our government would have sprayed its own troops knowing the potential harm. Investigative studies done by lawyers sueing the chemical companies have shown evidence that they did not know either.

Yes, I used to say that when I left 'Nam I didn't have a bullet wound on me and that I was very lucky. Indeed, I was. But after 30 years afterward I found out I did have a hidden bullet hiding in my body. What really got me interested in Agent Orange though is that my son was born with a problem with his nervous system that had no clear explanation and delving into Agent Orange explained a lot. But, because his symptoms were not identical to what the VA was making payments for he was left out in the cold. Of course he got care and treatment but it meant me mortaging my house a couple of times.

Agent Orange & dioxin is not readily absorbed through the sking, but it is through the eyes, lips, nose and mouth. As well of course if drunk by water and iodine and CL has no effect on dioxin.

Now, I also personally think that there were bugs and parasites never thought of by our medical practicioners which also caused a lot of 'Nam vets medical problems. But, they were not studied and Agent Orange was. If someone's medical ailments can be treated by the VA even though it may not actually been Agent Orange I'm still glad he's getting treatment for it. If Agent Orange gets blamed for it I have no problem since for years the government said there was no problem with AO and thousands suffered and died with no assistance.
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Old 20 May 11, 16:31
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Here is an excellent resource for finding out one's actual possible/probable exposure to the various defoliants used in Vietnam:
http://www.chicagotribune.com/chi-09...14263.htmlpage
Here you can look at a map of Vietnam and find the areas sprayed by month and year.
I spent August, 1966 to April 1967 in the field around Tay Ninh. Most of the months in this span for this area show it as blotted out by defoliant runs.
I walked, crawled, dug in and slept in defoliated areas nearly the whole time.
It was necessary to drink water out of bomb craters and creeks; I never heard that water purification tablets had any good effect on dioxin, although I would not be surprised to find they may made exposure worse.
I was diagnosed with a condition over ten years before it was added to the list. I have no qualms whatsoever believing the connection.
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Old 20 May 11, 19:58
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Once an area is sprayed, how long does it stay on the ground, or does it soak into the soil?


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Old 21 May 11, 02:17
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TB said,
"Now, I also personally think that there were bugs and parasites never thought of by our medical practicioners which also caused a lot of 'Nam vets medical problems. But, they were not studied and Agent Orange was. If someone's medical ailments can be treated by the VA even though it may not actually been Agent Orange I'm still glad he's getting treatment for it. If Agent Orange gets blamed for it I have no problem since for years the government said there was no problem with AO and thousands suffered and died with no assistance."
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It is something that I wonder about as well, I live with my wife and daughter in Vietnam, we take worm pills every six months. When I had my gut surgery a friend gave me a 1600 page medical book that he 'borrowed' from the VA that discussed the diseases and treatment of the digestive tract. 1200 pages were about parasites and many more are yet undiscovered and this book was published 30 years after the war! The color pictures of the damage some of these parasites did were alarming. I don't recall ever taking any medicine for parasites while in Vietnam. I have a little bit of cynicism when it comes to if the US government did or didn't know the after effects of the use of chemicals or harmful substances on its own soldiers. Be that as it may, after the effects of the substances are revealed it seems that the government policy has been to ignore the problem until there becomes an overwhelming outcry from the victims or the deceased victim's families. Then when the problem is recognized the process for compensation is exclusive and almost impossible to negotiate. I have a friend, Bill Biers who was at the atomic tests performed by the government during the 50's. He and many others were subjected to radiation that was well known to be harmful since the effects of the blasts in Japan were well known and studied. The tests went on and Bill is one of very few survivors. Bill and another vet, Marvin Simmons and I were in a PTSD discussion group for years. They have a radio show called Veterans Voice on KBOO radio station in Portland, Oregon. Their show can be accessed on the internet. One of the shows looked at the Anthrax vaccine and its relationship to 'Gulf War Syndrome'. Another controversy with similarities to the Agent Orange controversy. It is beyond my ken(pun intended) to know why certain people are effected by certain things while others were not. I don't really know how I survived the battlefield, let alone this far in life…only by the grace of God and a damn good guardian angel. Ken, I find it ironic that in the map you showed the color of the defoliated areas is in blood red not orange. I would like to express my sympathy and thanks to all those who have suffered from any after effects of war, you are an ever growing number. The price of freedom is very dear.
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