The Spraying of 2,4,5-T on CFB Gagetown and Surrounding Communities
DND began spraying 2,4,5-T in 1956. Since that time, chemical herbicides and defoliants have been used to control brush at CFB Gagetown. Between 1956-1984, 181,038 acres were sprayed with 6504 barrels of Picloram, Dioxin, Hexachlorobenzene and 2,4-D +2,4,5-T. These chemicals were nicknamed by the Americans as Agent Orange, Agent Purple and Agent White.
A total of 1,328,767 litres (292,680 imperial gallons) plus 1 million kilograms (2.2 million pounds) of dry Tordon 10K (Agent White) were sprayed.
The chemicals that were used during the duration of the spray program at CFB Gagetown are of concern because of serious health concerns. 2,4-D, & 2,4,5-T, which contains TCDD or as it is chemically known, 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-para-dioxin has been called the most potent poison that humans ever produced and it is virtually outlawed in most countries around the world.
Dioxin (http://www.ejnet.org/dioxin/) is linked to a number of serious health conditions, including skin disorders, nerve disorders, diabetes and numerous cancers.
Not all people who are exposed to dioxin get cancer. Something that we, as an Association, have noted. We believe people fall into three general categories according to our research.
There are those who have had heavy exposure to Dioxin and do not get cancer, they get multiple diseases and organ dysfunctions leading to severe disabling and early death.
Others have had indirect exposure, (i.e. washing uniforms soaked in the chemicals) who get cancer and have also died early.
Then there is a third group who seem to belong to both groups despite the level of exposure. The only reasonable medical explanation is that people have different immune systems and this may be the reason why people react differently to exposure.
This is purely observation and has little scientific validity. But it is something that we have observed over the past two and a half years amongst our Association and those in the class Action lawsuit.
It can be scientifically said that there is no amount of dioxin that can be considered a safe level. Whether people get sick from it or not depends on how much they have in their bodies, and their immune systems, level of exposure, frequency of exposure and other variables that are unknown.
While Dioxin breaks down with UV exposure, it can survive for decades in soil and water and can move out of spray areas due to runoff or through ingestion by animals such as birds and fish. It is also tracked out of sprayed areas by people on foot and the passing of numerous vehicles.
Dioxin is a fat lover, it is lipophilic, and can therefore be passed up the food chain from aquatic animals, fish, deer, moose, game birds and eventually to humans.
2,4,5-Trichlorophenoxy acetic acid - C8H5Cl3O3
Agent Purple was Agent Orange’s more lethal cousin with more than three times the level of dioxin as Agent Orange. Agent Purple is 50% 2,4-D, 30% n-butyl ester 2,4,5-T and 20% isobutyl ester 2,4,5-T. Below is a chemical structure diagram of 2,4,5-T.
2,4,5-T had high levels of dioxin because 2,4,5-trichlorophenoxyacetic acid is contaminated by TCDD (2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-para-dioxin) if it is allowed to attain a temperature greater than 160˚C during the production process. 2,4,5-T was tested at Gagetown in 1956-1958, 1960-1961, 1963-1964 and 1966-67
Agent Purple was so badly affecting it's own troops that the Americans stopped using it in Vietnam the year before it was tested at CFB Gagetown. Agent Purple was sprayed by the US military in 1966 and 1967 at the request of the Canadian government. It was sprayed for three days in 1966 and four days in 1967.
While DND has focused on Agents Orange and Purple as being the source of dioxin, Dr. Wayne Dwernychuk, a dioxin specialist, suggests that the earlier formulations of 2,4,5-T were probably even more contaminated than the compounds made in the late 1960s and 1970s