Vietnam: Agent Orange 40 Years Later

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A girl holds a page that she has colored at a center for children affected by dioxin exposure in Da Nang, Vietnam. The Da Nang Association of Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin says that more than 1,400 children around the city suffer from mental and physical disabilities because of dioxin exposure, a legacy of the U.S. military's use of  Agent Orange and other herbicides during the Vietnam War more than 40 years ago. About 200 children attend three centers operated by the group, which aims to teach the children how to read and write, sew clothes and make handicrafts. Another goal is to provide them with some limited vocational skills, but nearly all who have been sent out to work have eventually returned, unable to integrate into society, says Phan Thanh Tien, association president. 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.