U.S. Ground Troops in South Vietnam Were in Areas Sprayed With Herbicide Orange

FPCD-80-23: Published: Nov 16, 1979. Publicly Released: Nov 16, 1979.

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From 1965 to 1970, the Department of Defense (DOD) sprayed 10.65 million gallons of Herbicide Orange in Vietnam. DOD considered the herbicide to be a low health hazard and took few precautions to prevent troops' exposure to it.

Marines who may have been exposed to Herbicide Orange can be identified, but Army records are incomplete concerning personnel exposure. Although DOD has consistently stated that ground troops' exposure was not likely until 4 to 6 weeks after spraying, GAO found that they may have been exposed considerably sooner than the DOD estimate. The Veterans Administration (VA) began receiving herbicide-related compensation claims in late 1977. As of September 30, 1979, 750 persons had submitted claims. VA has allowed no claims based solely on herbicide exposure, and actions to resolve the claims have been hampered by inconclusive information on the herbicide's long-term effects on health.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Matter: Congress should direct DOD, VA, the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, or the Environmental Protection Agency to determine whether a study is needed on the health effects of Herbicide Orange on ground troops identified. This determination should be based on: (1) the feasibility and value of a new or expanded health effects study; and (2) the need to resolve veterans' concerns over the alleged health risks attributed to herbicides.


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