transport models that could be used in conjunction with the limited available data to examine the plausibility of exposure of ground troops and Blue Water Navy veterans to the chemicals. The committee attempted to determine where Blue Water Navy ships were during the war, their missions, how close they came to the Vietnamese coast, and the activities conducted aboard the ships by the sailors in performance of their duties and during their leisure time.

To determine whether Blue Water Navy personnel had exposures to TCDD comparable with those of ground troops and Brown Water Navy personnel, the committee sought to determine whether there were plausible exposure pathways between releases of Agent Orange and TCDD (specifically, the spraying of Agent Orange during the Operation Ranch Hand missions) and the three populations.

The long-term adverse health effects of Agent Orange and TCDD have been examined by other IOM committees, particularly the VAO committees, and by other organizations, such as the International Agency for Research on Cancer. For this reason, the present committee did not review all the primary literature related to TCDD exposure and health effects, such as studies of occupational cohorts and toxicological studies with laboratory animals. Rather, it focused its literature searches and other efforts on identifying epidemiologic studies of health effects seen in Vietnam veterans that included Navy personnel as a specific population and studies that divided Navy personnel into those who may have served in the Blue Water Navy, in the Brown Water Navy, or onshore.

Information Sources

Many data sources and methods were identified and pursued by the committee, including published peer-reviewed literature, models for assessing the environmental concentrations of Agent Orange and TCDD, anecdotal information from veterans and other interested parties on veteran experiences during the war and afterwards, and such other information sources as written and published accounts of the war (including memoirs), government documents, and ships’ deck logs. Although much of the information reviewed by the committee was not new, some fresh sources and documents were identified, including new VA policies, Blue Water Navy veterans’ reports, materials specific to the operations of the Blue Water Navy, and further documentation of the use of Agent Orange in Vietnam.

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement