Discover more from Dr. Tenpenny's Eye on the Evidence
Dioxin, part 1
The disaster looming in America
By U.S. Air Force photo - https://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil
- Public Domain
The U.S. bombing of Vietnam during that conflict was the most intense episode of aerial blasting known in human history. From 1964 until the war officially ended on August 15, 1973, 6.1 billion tons of explosives were detonated throughout Southeast Asia—that’s 12,200,000,000,000 pounds of bombs. This represents roughly three times as many bombs (by weight) as were dropped in both the European and the Pacific theaters combined during World War II, and about 13 times the total tonnage dropped during the Korean War. The heaviest bombing took place in the central region of the country near the 17th parallel, the border between former North and South Vietnam. In the South, the so-called “Iron Triangle,” a region adjacent to Cambodia near Saigon, was also heavily bombed. Given the prewar Vietnamese population of approximately 32 million, U.S. bombing translates into many hundreds of pounds of explosives per person during the conflict. [Reference here]
In addition to bombs, millions of liters of toxic chemicals were sprayed across the jungles of Vietnam.
Produced for the Army by several different chemical companies, including T-H Agricultural & Nutrition, Dow Chemical, and Monsanto, the principal chemicals used were a 1:1 mixture of two herbicides first introduced in 1947 for control of broad-leaf plants: 2,4-dichloro-phenoxy acetic acid (2,4-D) and 2,4,5-trichlorophenoxy acetic acid (2,4,5-T). The defoliant was later found to be contaminated with another chemical named 2,3,7,8-TCDD (later shortened to TCDD) determined to be the most toxic form of dioxin in the world. The combo-chemical was known as Agent Orange.
Dioxin is part of a complex family of chemicals that are persistent in the environment. Related to furans and PCBs, all have similar properties and varying degrees of toxicity. Strictly speaking, this group contains 75 chlorinated dioxins, 135 chlorinated furans, and 209 polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Of all these chemicals, 30 have “dioxin-like” toxicity and 17 contribute significantly to the toxicity of mixtures.
Exposure to TCDD and other dioxins and dioxin-like compounds can be harmful to humans and wildlife and can vary by several orders of magnitued. A score has been devised, called the Toxic equivalency factor (TEF), as an international standardization to rank the toxicity of dioxins, furans, and PCBs against the most toxic form of dioxin, TCDD. However, these chemicals are resistant to breaking down and even miniscule concentrations can be absorbed by plants and animals, allowing the the toxicity to move up the food chain.
Of all the dioxins, Agent Orange is the most familiar. But there were several other forms of herbicides used by the U.S. DoD to kill and starve the Vietnamese during the war. After arriving in the jungles of Vietnam, Agent Orange and other defoliants were mixed with kerosene and diesel fuel before being dispersed by aircraft, by vehicle, and by hand.
In 2004, Gerard Greenfield, an independent researcher based in Bangkok, Thailand, documented the following (summarized)
Over a ten-year period, from 1961 to 1971, the US used an estimated 77 million liters of herbicides as chemical weapons for “defoliation and crop destruction” in Vietnam. Unable to disrupt the food supply to the North Vietnamese, the US military’s response was simple: If you can’t control it, kill it. Killing crops was both a military strategy and – with the procurement of tens of millions of liters of toxic herbicides from US chemical companies — it was a windfall of profits for the chemical industry.
At least 15 different kinds of non-selective or “burn-down” herbicides were produced by U.S. chemical companies, purchased by the military, and then shipped to Saigon in 208-liter barrels for distribution. Each barrel was marked with a colored stripe that served as a ‘code name’ for the toxic herbicide it contained.
While Agent Orange was used in the largest quantities and was by far the most toxic, a large number of barrels were labeled Agent Blue. This herbicide (cacodylic acid) starved plants of moisture, killing them by drying them out (desiccation). By depriving rice plants of moisture, millions of villagers were be starved of their most basic food. First used in November 1962, more than 4.7 million liters of Agent Blue were sprayed over the next nine years, completing the US government’s “rice-killing operation.” Agent Blue was actually the agent of choice for crop destruction throughout the entire war. Not only were the rice paddies destroyed, but the land was rendered unsuitable for growing plants indefinitely.
Besides, Agent Orange and Agent Blue, other poisonous herbicides used during the Vietnam conflict were Agent White, Agent Pink, and Agent Purple. In addition to these horrific chemicals, the war used a hideous exfoliant called Napalm. Made by The Dow Company, it was a gelatinous gas that burned at 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit (approximately 1,100C), scorching everything in its path.
According to researcher Arthur H. Westing, the sprayings were “frequent and voluminous.” As many as 10,000 missions were flown, resulting in dioxin being deposited across more than 15 percent of South Vietnam and a sizable portion of Cambodia and Laos. [Reference]
Long Term Devastation
Of the many concerns voiced during the 1970s over the use of these chemicals, the most pressing was over their persistence in the environment. Even though Agent Orange used as a military defoliant was discontinued in 1971 and one of its components, 2,4,5-T was banned around the world, the persistence of dioxin continues to cause health problems in humans and in wildlife due to its lack of biodegradability. When deposited into the local water supplies—ponds, lakes, rivers, or streams—it remains in the sediment indefinitely. More than 60 years later, dioxin continues to be persistent in the food chain in SE Asia, causing deadly contamination of wildlife. Its persistence in the soil of riverbanks makes it particularly toxic to waterfowl. Research has confirmed that even trace amounts—only two to three parts per trillion (ppt)—are extremely toxic in laboratory animals.
Dioxin has been shown to disrupt the immune system and disrupt normal developing at concentrations as low as 1.0 ppt. To demonstrate how infinitesimally small that amount is, Dr. Arnold Schecter, an international expert on dioxin used this analogy:
He said, “…this is the equivalent of a single drop of liquid placed in the center car of a ten-kilometer long cargo train.”
Dioxins are also highly persistent in the environment and extremely resistant to chemical or physical breakdown. It can take more than 15 years to degrade to half its original concentration. It has a great affinity to organic matter in soil, where it remains largely unchanged, almost forever.
Fast Forward: East Palestine, Ohio
The full impact of the chemical explosions and intentional fires to burn vinyl chloride and other chemicals after the train derailment in Eastern Ohio/Western Pennsylvania will not be known for decades.
Burning vinyl chloride creates hydrogen chloride and phosgene, a toxic gas that was used as a chemical weapon during World War I. The Washington Post has reported that the EPA is ‘screening homes for hydrogen chloride and vinyl chloride, but has not detected the gases thus far.’
But boots-on-the-ground reports such as those delivered by Nick Sortor who I interviewed for The Tenpenny Files - On Your Health, my new show on Brighteon.TV - said the investigation was being conducted by Norfolk & Southern, with very few answers forthcoming regarding the safety of air and water for local residents.
Murray McBride, a professor of soil chemistry at Cornell University, said that when vinyl chloride leaches into topsoil, it is less dangerous because microbes break it down. But if it filters into the subsoil, it can linger for years. McBride also said people near the huge plume of smoke were likely inhaling dioxins coming from the fire.
The burning of plastics releases toxic gases like dioxins, furans, mercury, and BCPs into the atmosphere. The dioxins can travel through the air and eventually settle in lakes, reservoirs, and soil. The chemicals can contaminate farmland, leading to the ingestion of unknown quantities of dioxin by grazing animals and the contamination of the food chain.
Perhaps the most studied of all chemicals, there are more than 5,000 published scientific papers on the TCDD, with many hundreds specifically identifying its danger to human health. Despite the voluminous documentation of its hazards, the “party line” spewed by the EPA and the chemical industry for more than 20 years has been that “low levels of dioxin pose no health problems.”
In fact, in 1992 U.S. Assistant Surgeon General Vernon N. Houk, MD, who was also the top official at the CDC, completely downplayed the health threat of dioxin. Amazingly, recommended the government should somewhat relax the amount of dioxin it says humans can safely ingest.
Fortunately, time and science have prevailed. On January 19, 2001, the National Institutes of Environmental Health Sciences added TCDD to the list of substances known to be human carcinogens. Dioxin has been associated with blood cancers—non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL)—and soft tissue sarcomas.
The possibility of dioxin being one of the contaminants released by burning vinyl chloride was initially downplayed by investigators, the media, and government officials. However, the EPA has finally stepped up to the plate and ordered testing of the soil and water near the train derailment.
Assessments to Begin?
In a statement to NBC News on March 9, 2023, EPA deputy press secretary Khanya Brann said the agency would review every aspect of a sampling plan to ensure it was as “protective as possible” and would modify it if it doesn’t meet the agency’s standards.
In a news release, the EPA announced that it had approved a Norfolk Southern plan for soil sampling. The plan requires contractors to inspect at least 277 sites within 2 miles of the derailment to look for visible ash. Sites with visible ash will be sampled; at least 20% of sites without ash will also be sampled. Testing will take at least a week to return results.
The EPA released its first health assessment of dioxins in 1985 which identified the compounds as likely carcinogens. The impact on soil, water, and long-term health of plants, animals and humans will not be determined for decades to come. The book, DIOXINS AND HEALTH, Including Other Persistent Organic Pollutants and Endocrine Disruptors, was released in 2012 by Arnold Schecter, of the Texas School of Public Health in Dallas. By reading just the table of contents, it is apparent the long term prospects our country may be facing.
Dioxins, even at parts per trillion, could reshape the entire food chain throughout the US forever. The Ohio River eventually runs into the Mississippi River, the Mississippi Delta and the Gulf of Mexico. The chemicals in the explosion’s plume would carry contaminated particulates throughout the New England states. (I apologize - I didn’t keep the links to the two jpegs pictures below).
Should Norfolk Southern be overseeing sampling efforts, given the legal and economic implications if dioxins are discovered and the scientific precision needed for public confidence? Isn’t that akin to the fox minding the hen house?
The people of East Palestine, and the people of America, should insist on non-partisan, third-party testing. Our lives and futures depend on it.
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