U.S. Huey spraying Agent Orange in Vietnam
Source: Vietnam Center and Archives

What is Agent Orange?

Agent Orange is a blend of various herbicides which were commonly used during the Vietnam War to defoliate Southeast Asian war zones.  It got its name from the orange stripe put on the 55-gallon drums it was stored it to differentiate it from other chemicals.  Agent Orange was not a commercial herbicide bought by the government from industries.  It was initially made in government facilities, but when the demand started to increase more and more during the Vietnam war, other civilian facilities were contracted to make it as well.

What is inside Agent Orange?

The active ingredients in Agent Orange are 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D) and 2,4,5-trichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4,5-T).  These chemicals belong to a class of growth inhibiting herbicides which act as plant hormone disruptors.

What is TCDD?

TCDD, or 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (also improperly referred to as “dioxin”) is a contaminant formed during the manufacturing process for Agent Orange.

David Snapp, President of the Orange Texas Chapter of the Vietnam Veterans of America, talked about his experiences Friday July 7, 2013.  He also maintains the chapter's collection of artifacts from the Vietnam War. This orange striped 55 gallon drum was how Agent Orange was transported. Dave Ryan/The Enterprise Photo: Dave Ryan
Barrel Containing Agent Orange

Agent Orange was nicknamed because of the orange-striped barrels it was stored in, pictured above.