Exposure to Environmental Hazards Caused Long-Lasting Respiratory Issues
Exposure to dust, smoke, and other hazardous environmental elements throughout the war resulted in various respiratory problems in Vietnam vets. Rainbow herbicides like Agent Orange increase the risk of chronic respiratory illnesses like emphysema by 60 percent. In addition, a study of over 3.6 million Vietnam War vets found they are at a much higher risk than the general population of developing idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. This rare disease causes scarring of the tissue surrounding the lung airways. The scarring, or fibrosis, causes the lungs to stiffen, making breathing difficult. Veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange were more likely to develop the condition. High blood levels of dioxin, an ingredient in Agent Orange, are also associated with a higher risk of developing lung cancer. Additionally, exposure to smoke, dust, and other environmental hazards during the war may be linked to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The condition causes chronic inflammation of the lung airways. Veterans of multiple wars recently became eligible to receive disability from the Veterans Affairs Office for three respiratory conditions that may be linked to Agent Orange exposure: asthma, rhinitis, and sinusitis.