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Agent Orange

Agent Orange, herbicide used by U.S. forces during the Vietnam War to expose enemy guerrilla forces in forested areas. Agent Orange contains varying amounts of dioxin. Exposure to the defoliant has been linked with chemical acne, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease, soft-tissue sarcoma, and hairy-cell leukemia. Many soldiers were exposed to Agent Orange in the Vietnam War. Afflicted veterans brought a class-action suit against manufacturers of Agent Orange, which was settled out of court by the establishment of a fund to compensate them and their families for any disabilities. That settlement, however, covered only those who became ill by 1994 and, as a result of a 2003 Supreme Court decision, veterans who became ill after 1994 can sue the herbicide's manufacturers. The herbicide has also been blamed for a significantly higher than normal rate of birth defects in areas of Vietnam that were sprayed; tests have shown persistent high levels of dioxin in the local environment and in people living there. Since 2006 the United States and Vietnam have worked together on problems in Vietnam resulting from the herbicide's use.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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