Agent Orange dioxin dangers grossly overstated (Update)
A 1976 industrial accident subjected residents of Seveso, Italy to the "highest known exposure" of 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD), more commonly known simply as "dioxin". Numerous scientific studies have shown the adverse health effects of the massive Seveso dioxin release to be minimal, the most common consequence being chloracne, a non-fatal malady.
Asian Correspondent today reports that the United Nations has begun cleaning up a site contaminated with Vietnam war era dioxin.
Between 1962 and 1971, the U.S. military sprayed roughly 11 million gallons (41 million liters) of Agent Orange across large swaths of southern Vietnam. Dioxin is a toxic chemical used in the herbicide that has been linked to cancers, birth defects and other ailments.
"Without action, the hotspots will continue to contaminate the wider environment and pose a serious health risk to people living and working nearby," the U.N. Development Program statement said.
Vietnam says as many as 4 million of its citizens were exposed to the herbicide and as many as 3 million have suffered illnesses caused by it, but the United States says there is no scientific evidence to link Agent Orange to the illnesses.
The Vietnamese government, without any scientific justification whatsoever, is attempting to play on American war-guilt to extort US$300 miilion (AU$350 million) from the U.S. government. There's a good chance they'll succeed.
By the way, dioxin was not "used" in the herbicide, it was a by-product of the manufacturing process.
Update: Irate commenters insist that I'm wrong and that dioxin is, in fact, very dangerous, further insisting I'd know how dangerous dioxin is if I had done my research. Wrong. Dioxins are, like pretty much everything on the planet, toxic if consumed in sufficient quantity, but their toxicity is continually overstated.
Dioxins, particularly 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin, have been variously described as "the most toxic chemical synthesized by man", as toxic as plutonium, "2,000 times more toxic than strychnine and 150,000 times more toxic than cyanide" and the like. Yet there seem to be no documented deaths resulting from acute dioxin poisoning; this because humans normally encounter dioxins in only vanishing small quantities. There are exceptions, however, two Austrian women stubbornly refusing to die after inadvertently ingesting large quantities of the chemical, "144,000 pg/g blood fat in patient 1 and 26,000 pg/g in patient 2, the highest levels ever measured in adults."
Dioxins have been linked to several cancers and to other adverse health effects but evidence showing dioxins to have caused a significant increase in cancers or other maladies are seriously lacking.
I invite those who think I'm wrong to produce the evidence.