Chapter 2 of this report provides a short historical background on the Vietnam War and the military personnel who constituted the ground combat troops, the Brown Water Navy, and the Blue Water Navy. It also presents a synopsis of the legislation regarding veterans and Agent Orange since the Vietnam War and of the recent legal issues that have arisen over Blue Water Navy veterans’ compensation. In Chapter 3, the committee describes the use of tactical herbicides during the Vietnam War, particularly Agent Orange, and some of the chemicals to which naval personnel may have been exposed while on active duty. The environment of Vietnam and the fate and transport of Agent Orange–associated TCDD are explored in Chapter 4 with a discussion of the role of modeling in estimating environmental concentrations of TCDD. Chapter 5 addresses the committee’s task of comparing exposure of ground troops with Navy personnel on ships and explores the mechanisms by which these military personnel may have been exposed to Agent Orange. The comparative risks of long-term health effects in ground troops, Blue Water Navy veterans, and other veterans who served during the war but were not deployed to Vietnam are presented in Chapter 6. Finally, in Chapter 7, the committee summarizes what it has learned about the potential exposure of and health effects in Blue Water Navy Vietnam veterans. An appendix reviews the Australian report Examination of the Potential Exposure of Royal Australian Navy Personnel to Polychlorinated Dibenzodioxins and Polychlorinated Dibenzofurans via Drinking Water (Muller et al., 2002).


Department of the Navy. 2003. Machinist’s mate 3 & 2 (Surface). NAVEDTRA 14151. Pensacola, FL: Naval Education and Training, Professional Development and Technology Center.

IOM (Institute of Medicine). 2009. Veterans and Agent Orange: Update 2008. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

Janec, S., and T. Smith. 2009. Herbicide exposure. In Board of Veterans’ Appeals Lecture Series. Washington, DC: Department of Veterans Affairs.

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