Episode 2092 of the Vietnam Veteran News Podcast will feature a report about the use and effects of Agent Blue in Vietnam. It was submitted by Kenneth R. Olson, PhD Professor Soil Science, NRES, ACES, University of Illinois and Larry Cihacek, PhD Professor of Soil Science, North Dakota State University. The report was titled: Agent Blue: Arsenic Based Herbicide Used in Southern Vietnam during the Vietnam.
Excerpts of the report follow:
The U.S. Department of Army’s Chemical Corps Biological Laboratories initiated a major program in 1952 at Camp Detrick, Maryland to develop both the herbicide formulations and aerial spray equipment for potential deployment in Korean Conflict.
The Agent Blue, precursor reagent, cacodylic acid, was formulated by military scientists at Fort Detrick in 1957.
The destruction of the South Vietnamese rice crop using an arsenic-based herbicide known as Agent Blue during the American Vietnam War (1965-1972) was not a secret, however it received little attention in the United States.
Republic of Vietnam and United States militaries began destroying food crops (rice) in November of 1962 primarily via helicopter aerial applications in the Mekong Delta and Central Highlands of Southern Vietnam.
Spraying of Agent Blue, the arsenic based herbicide, on 250,000 acres of mangrove forests and about 750,000 acres of rice paddies just before rice harvest time resulted in the destruction of the standing crop and rendered the land contaminated with arsenic.
Today arsenic contaminated rice and groundwater are growing concerns as neither naturally occurring arsenic nor anthropic arsenic have a half-life and cannot be destroyed.
Water soluble arsenic primarily leaches into the soil root zone and the groundwater or is carried by floodwater into adjacent waterways.
The health of 15 million Vietnamese people living in the Mekong Delta is at risk from the combination of anthropic (man-made) and natural arsenic in drinking water and food supply.
Listen to episode 2092 and discover more about the legacy of our use of Agent Blue in Vietnam and the terrible effects it had on the Vietnamese people.