The toxic byproducts of Agent Orange pollute the environment in Vietnam, including its food supply, 50 years later.
During the Vietnam War, American planes sprayed over 20 million gallons of herbicides – including Agent Orange – on the country's forests, crops, and wetlands. Agent Orange contains a byproduct called dioxin TCDD, which can remain in the environment for decades or even centuries.
"In this article, we examine the short- and long-term environmental effects on the basis of Vietnamese natural resources and how the persistence of dioxin continues to affect soils, water, sediments, fish , aquatic species, food supply and Vietnamese health ", Ken Olson, professor emeritus at the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences of the University of Illinois and co. – author of the study, said in a statement.
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The researchers analyzed an 870 – page report from USAID, accompanied by a dozen other research reports on contaminated air base sites in Vietnam, to explain the displacement of dioxin TCDD and its impact on the long-term health of the country.
According to Lois Wright Morton, co-author of the study, Iowa State University, after spraying the US military in the 1960s, trees and shrubs absorbed the chemical, and then dropped on the ground, which resulted in the infiltration of dioxin TCDD into the soil organic matter. . From there, it moved off-site into the runoff, before settling in wetlands, rivers, lakes and ponds.
Dioxin-contaminated sediments were and are still ingested by fish and shrimp that feed on the bottom, according to the study published in the Open Journal of Soil Science. Although fishing is currently banned at most contaminated sites, these bans have been difficult to enforce.
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"The worst dioxin-contaminated site in Vietnam is the Bien Hoa Air Base, located 30 km north of Ho Chi Minh City," Olson said. "After President Nixon had ordered the US military to stop spraying Agent Orange in 1970, it was the site where all the barrels of agent remaining in Vietnam were recovered. They were then processed and shipped to Johnston Island in the Pacific Ocean, where they were cremated at sea in 1977. "
The researchers recommended the incineration of contaminated soils and sediments at 10 sites of the Vietnamese Air Base affected.
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