By Susan Cohen
Between 1961 and 1971, the United States sprayed more than 20 million gallons of various herbicides over Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. Agent Orange, a powerful herbicide, was used to eliminate forest cover and crops for the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong troops. Agent Orange, which contains the deadly chemical dioxin, was later proven to cause serious health issues among both the Vietnamese and returning US servicemen and women.
While Agent Orange was sprayed over Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, there is another site relevant to the story of Agent Orange: the Diamond Alkali plant used to create Agent Orange located in Newark, New Jersey. Dioxin was dumped into the Passaic River resulting in the pollution of the Ironbound area for years.