By Mike Hixenbaugh
and Charles Ornstein, ProPublica
March 10, 2016
”Although progress has been made in understanding the health effects of exposure to the chemicals,” the committee members wrote near the end of the 1,115-page report, there are still “significant gaps in our knowledge.”More than two decades of studying Agent Orange exposure hasn’t produced a solid understanding of how the toxic herbicide has harmed Vietnam War veterans and possibly their children, according to a report released Thursday.
Additional research is long overdue, the report said, but the federal government hasn’t done it.
Those are among the conclusions of a committee of researchers that, since 1991, has been charged by Congress with reviewing all available research into the effects of Agent Orange, which the U.S. military sprayed by the millions of gallons in Vietnam to kill forests and destroy enemy cover.
Over the years, the biennial reports produced by the committee have identified numerous illnesses linked to the herbicide, in some cases leading the Department of Veterans Affairs to extend disability compensation to thousands more veterans.
The committee members’ parting thoughts about the lack of necessary research offered a wake-up call to a federal bureaucracy and researchers who have largely moved on from studying the health consequences of a war that ended 40 years ago.
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