More than three decades after the Vietnam War ended, the Vietnamese people continue to live with the consequences of Agent Orange, a defoliant that has come to symbolize the unintended consequences of warfare.

During the war, American forces sprayed nearly two million gallons of Agent Orange across Vietnam's forests in an attempt to steal cover from insurgent forces that lurked in the dense jungle. The U.S. eventually halted the spraying program, after learning that Agent Orange was tainted with high levels of dioxin. But by then, nearly 18 percent of Vietnam's forests and 20,000 villages had been sprayed with this toxic chemical. For years, Agent Orange's toxic legacy in Vietnam has seemed like an impossible problem. Dioxin has a decades-long half-life and it continues to linger in Vietnam's soil, working its way up the food chain and exposing new generations of Vietnamese. Cleanup costs dwarfed the Vietnamese government's ability to pay, and the logistics of cleanup work looked daunting. But a new era of cooperation between the U.S. and Vietnam has finally led to a shift from finger-pointing to problem solving. Reporter Christie Aschwanden and videographer George Lerner travel to Vietnam to witness Agent Orange's lingering legacy and to find out what's being done to solve the problem.

Christie Aschwanden's picture
Christie Aschwanden is an award-winning freelance writer and journalist based in western Colorado. She is a contributing editor for Health magazine and a contributing writer for Skiing...
George Lerner's picture
George Lerner is an independent journalist based in New York City. He produced the documentary "Congo: Hope on the Ballot" on landmark 2006 elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo for the PBS...

Vietnam: War's Lasting Legacy