Agent Orange

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Agent Orange,

herbicideherbicide
, chemical compound that kills plants or inhibits their normal growth. A herbicide in a particular formulation and application can be described as selective or nonselective.
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 used by U.S. forces during the Vietnam WarVietnam War,
conflict in Southeast Asia, primarily fought in South Vietnam between government forces aided by the United States and guerrilla forces aided by North Vietnam. The war began soon after the Geneva Conference provisionally divided (1954) Vietnam at 17° N lat.
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 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 lymphomalymphoma, non-Hodgkin's,
any cancer of the lymphoid tissue (see lymphatic system) in which the Reed-Sternberg cells characteristic of Hodgkin's disease (the other category of lymphoma) are not present.
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, Hodgkin's diseaseHodgkin's disease,
a type of cancer of the lymphatic system. First identified in 1832 in England by Thomas Hodgkin, it is a type of malignant lymphoma. Incidence peaks in young adults and the elderly.
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, soft-tissue sarcomasarcoma
, highly malignant tumor arising in connective- and muscle-cell tissue. It is the result of oncogenes (the cancer causing genes of some viruses) and proto-oncogenes (cancer causing genes in human cells). It may affect bone, cartilage, blood vessels, lymph nodes, and skin.
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, and hairy-cell leukemialeukemia
, cancerous disorder of the blood-forming tissues (bone marrow, lymphatics, liver, spleen) characterized by excessive production of immature or mature leukocytes (white blood cells; see blood) and consequently a crowding-out of red blood cells and platelets.
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. 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.
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