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Agent Orange

Why is it in News?

The US has launched a multi-million dollar clean-up operation at an air base in Vietnam it used to store the notorious chemical Agent Orange.

Brief Background:

  • During the Vietnamese war in 1960s, guerrillas supported by the Communist Party used to attack the US forces and hide in the canopy cover of plants and trees. This tactic created Pandora’s Box of problem for the US forces.
  • To counter this, the US government used a herbicide called as ‘Agent Orange’ to destroy the plants and trees cover so that guerrillas can be taken head on.
  • This operation by the US force was part of ‘Operation Ranch Hand’.
  • This chemical was not only carcinogenic but was accompanied with many diseases related to respiratory tracts, nervous system etc.

Chemical Composition of Agent Orange:

  • The active ingredient of Agent Orange is combination of 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (also called as 2,4-D) and 2,4,5-Trichlorophenoxyacetic acid(also called as 2,4,5-T).
  • Agent Orange contains dioxin, which is one of the most toxic chemicals known to man and has been linked to increased rates of cancers and birth defects.

Source: BBC