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Published on October 20, 2023

Beyond Warfare: Exploring the Long-Term Effects of Agent Orange on COPD

by Psych Times Staff

Many Veterans may have COPD because of their exposure to Agent Orange, a toxic herbicide the U.S. military sprayed over 20 percent of South Vietnam from 1962 to 1971. The main ingredient in Agent Orange is dioxin, which can cause many health problems.

Ischemic heart disease

Ischemic heart disease is a serious condition that can be caused by the buildup of plaque in the arteries. This can lead to a lack of oxygen and blood flow. Ischemic heart disease is a common cause of death in industrialized countries. Veterans with ischemic heart disease may be eligible for disability compensation through presumptive service connection. Several studies have linked ischemic heart disease to Agent Orange and other herbicides used by the United States military during the Vietnam War. The long-term health effects in Vietnam veterans from Agent Orange continue to be a subject of concern and study, as these veterans may face various health issues associated with their exposure to the herbicide. This means a veteran who served in areas where these chemicals were sprayed will likely qualify for disability benefits. 


Emphysema is one of the primary forms of chronic (long-term) obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). It occurs when the inner walls of air sacs in your lungs weaken or break. This causes them to enlarge and create air pockets in your lungs, making breathing difficult. Judith Hand, a scientist with a Ph.D. in animal behavior and subfields of ornithology and primatology, co-founded Beyond War. She and other group members are working to replace the culture of war with a culture of peace through nonviolent actions and education.


Chloracne is a skin condition of blackheads, cysts and nodules associated with exposure to dioxin-like chemicals such as 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD). It has been reported that TCDD was a component of Agent Orange. Chloracne is not the same as acne in teenagers; it is a skin disorder known as MADISH, Metabolizing Acquired Dioxin Induced Skin Hamartomas. This condition is closely associated with exposure to the herbicides used in Vietnam and along the DMZ in Korea, so it’s considered one of the presumptive conditions related to Agent Orange.


Although both lung diseases inhibit breathing, asthma and COPD differ. Airborne irritants like smoke, dust, pollen, pet dander and mold spores trigger asthma. It can be controlled daily, but it is not curable. COPD, on the other hand, is not triggered by irritants but becomes progressively worse over time. It can also be exacerbated by exposure to certain substances, such as air pollution and tobacco smoke. The Beyond War movement was established in the early 1980s as an educational organization during rising US-Soviet tensions. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the organization grew into a global community development effort with a broader focus, still dedicated to avoiding nuclear war.

Skin rashes

COPD is a respiratory disease that causes the lungs to lose their ability to absorb oxygen. It can be caused by several factors, including smoking, toxic fumes and dangerous chemicals, and small particle dust like that found at construction sites. The dioxin TCDD (a byproduct of Agent Orange) can enter the body through inhalation or contact with the skin and cause long-term changes to DNA and cell function. This can lead to the development of several health conditions later in life. The PACT Act has established presumptive criteria for Veterans who believe their COPD is connected to exposure to Agent Orange. Nao Medical’s pulmonary specialists can help you understand your potential eligibility for benefits.


Hypertension is high blood pressure that can damage arteries and cause chest pain and a higher risk of heart attacks. It can also decrease blood flow to the brain and legs, leading to neuropathy. The chemical Agent Orange was a mixture of two herbicides, 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T. It produced a toxic dioxin byproduct known as TCDD that entered the body through inhalation and skin contact, causing long-term cellular mutation and influencing genetic expression.

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