Vietnam: Agent Orange 40 Years Later

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Le Thi Thu, 42, and her daughter, Nguyen Thi Ly, 11, live in a  village south of Da Nang, Vietnam. They are second and third generation victims of dioxin exposure, the result of the U.S. military's use of Agent Orange and other herbicides during the Vietnam War more than 40 years ago. Thu's father was sprayed with Agent Orange when he was a soldier in the North Vietnamese Army. She was born in 1970 with facial deformities. "I could see the difference between myself and others right away, she recalls. "When I was a small child, I felt pain inside my body all the time. My parents took me to the hospital, and the doctors determined that I had been affected by Agent Orange." Ly, her first child, was born with the same facial deformities. Her 10-year-old son looks normal, but he also suffers from chronic bone pain, a cruel illustration of how dioxin exposure can randomly affect a family through several generations. The Vietnam Red Cross estimates that 3 million Vietnamese suffer from illnesses related to dioxin exposure, including at least 150,000 people born with severe birth defects since the end of the war. The U.S. government is paying to clean up dioxin-contaminated soil at the Da Nang airport, which served as a major U.S. base during the conflict. But the U.S. government still denies that dioxin is to blame for widespread health problems in Vietnam and has never provided any money specifically to help the country's Agent Orange victims. May 28, 2012.
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