herbicides and dioxin that arose in parallel to veterans' concerns, and describes federal and state responses to this national dilemma.
Chapter 3 provides background information on the nature and extent of potential exposure of Vietnam veterans to herbicides, based on information about the military herbicide program. Some 3 million military personnel served in or near Vietnam, and as one historian notes, "there was no 'typical' U.S. soldier in Vietnam … Americans who served there went through many varied experiences—partly because the quality of the war varied in different areas of the country, and partly because the nature changed over time" (Karnow, 1991). Individual experiences also varied by branch of service, military occupation, rank, and type of military unit. As reflected in military records, the use of herbicides was varied as well. Starting in 1962 and peaking in the late 1960s, seven different herbicide formulations were used in varying quantities for a variety of purposes in different parts of the country; approximately 65 percent of these herbicides were contaminated by TCDD, in varying concentrations. Aerial spraying of herbicides by Operation Ranch Hand accounted for approximately 86 percent of all spraying and was well documented; other spraying by helicopters and from trucks or backpacks was poorly documented.
Chapter 4 provides toxicological background on the biologic plausibility of health effects that may occur in humans after accidental or occupational exposure to herbicides and TCDD components. This chapter describes the biological and chemical properties of the compounds in question as determined by basic research and animal studies. TCDD administered to laboratory animals interacts with an intracellular protein called the Ah receptor. This interaction appears to play a role in a number of health effects observed in animals. Because humans also have intracellular proteins that have been identified as Ah receptors, it is plausible that interactions between TCDD and these receptors could play a role in human health effects. In contrast to TCDD, the effects of the herbicides do not appear to be mediated through interactions with intracellular receptors. TCDD has also been shown to have a wide range of effects in laboratory animals on growth regulation, hormone systems, and other factors associated with the regulation of activities in normal cells. In addition, TCDD has been shown to cause cancer in laboratory animals at a variety of sites. If TCDD has similar effects on cell regulation in humans, it is plausible that it could have an effect on human cancer incidence. In contrast to TCDD, there is no convincing evidence in animals of, or mechanistic basis for, carcinogenicity or other health effects of any of the herbicides, although they have not been studied as extensively as TCDD.
In fulfilling its charge of judging whether each of a set of human health effects is associated with exposure to herbicides or dioxin, most of the committee's efforts concentrated on reviewing and interpreting epidemiologic