|Actresses perform with an orange curtain at a ceremony to mark Agent Orange Day in Hanoi. U.S. warplanes dropped about 18 million gallons of the defoliant on southern Vietnam during the 1960s. (Kham/Reuters)|
At the end of the story there is a little multiple choice quiz. This should be a snap, all these web quizzes are like Trivial Pursuit. Whatever pops into your head in response is probably the right answer. Not here. I got 4 out of 8, and that was only because I was lucky.
Reviewing the correct answers, I noticed that the names of two chemicals that go into making Agent Orange (the Vietnam War era herbicide) are very similar:
- 2,4,5-Trichlorophenoxyacetic acid and
- 2,4 - dichlorophenoxyacetic acid
- chloro - contains chlorine, same stuff in you find in bleach and swimming pools.
- pheno - phenol is a basic building block for many plastics, amongst other things.
- oxy - short for oxygen
- acetic acid - vinegar, yuck.
TCDD has been described by Yale biologist Arthur Galston as "perhaps the most toxic molecule ever synthesized by man".
A note about the picture: I don't recommend Googling for Agent Orange images. Most of what you will get back is real horror show.