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October 15, 1982

Health Effects of Agent Orange and Dioxin Contaminants

JAMA. 1982;248(15):1895-1897. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03330150073035

The American Medical Association's Council on Scientific Affairs, in response to a request from the medical student section, has reviewed the medical evidence regarding the toxicity and long-term health effects of Agent Orange and its associated contaminant 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD). This executive summary, which was prepared by the Council on Scientific Affairs Advisory Panel on Toxic Substances, summarizes the findings in its technical report on the subject, which is available on request.

Background  During the latter stages of the United States' involvement in Vietnam, herbicidal mixtures of 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D) and 2,4,5-trichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4,5-T), otherwise identified by the military as Agent Orange, were sprayed over certain areas of Vietnam for the express purpose of defoliating the jungle and destroying one of the enemy's means of concealment. Similar spray programs have been used in the United States as a means of forestry management. For the past 30 years, mixtures of 2,4-D and