13 September 2012

Debunking VA View of USAF C-123 Agent Orange Report

from the VA's page on C-123 Agent Orange - the VA's interpretation of the USAF School of Aerospace Medicine C-123 Exposure Report (May 2012)

Testing for Agent Orange Residue on C-123 Aircraft Used in Vietnam

  1. The U.S. Air Force (USAF) collected and analyzed numerous samples from C-123 aircraft to test for Agent Orange. USAF's recent risk assessment report (April 27, 2012) (2.3 MB, PDF) found that potential exposures to Agent Orange in C-123 planes used after the Vietnam War were unlikely to have put aircrew or passengers at risk for future health problems. The report’s three conclusions:
  2. VA Claims Denial Excuse Expert
  • First: There was not enough information and data to conclude how much individual persons would have been exposed to Agent Orange 
  • Second: It is expected that exposure to Agent Orange in these aircraft after the Vietnam War was lower than exposure during the spraying missions in Vietnam.  
  • Third: Potential Agent Orange exposures were unlikely to have exceeded standards set by regulators or to have put people at risk for future health problems. (bold emphasis in the original)
Bogus! phony voodoo "science", carefully selecting some materials (and ignoring others)  from over three decades constructing a money-saving argument to prevent veterans seeking medical care for Agent Orange illnesses. No wonder that the Air Force report, once drafted by the research team, was actually rewritten by the JAG at Wright-Patterson AFB to insure it met leadership's predetermined objective of denying exposure. Now, let's look into these three points used by the Air Force and cited by the VA in this slap-down of war veterans.

First, "not enough information re: individual persons". Who cares if the data can be brought down to an individual's exposure rather than that of an entire group? The entire fault rests with the Air Force...the contamination was known in 1994 and AFMC and the School of Aerospace Medicine did NOTHING to care for aircrews and maintenance personnel once the contamination data was in-hand. Rather, AFMC's Environmental Law Office recommended the damning reports be "kept in official channels only." So decades pass by, with more tests confirming the C-123 toxicity but no tests made on individuals or even our entire small group of veterans...so in May of 2012 the Air Force and VA suddently conclude we were not individually exposed because they can't find the data to evaluate? Amazing that they are blaming us for their error, punishing for their delay in informing us of our exposure, punishing us with their decision forbidding access to medical care because the USAF kept the information confidential.

Second, "exposure after Vietnam was lower than exposure during wartime spray missions." Who cares? A little poison leading to Agent Orange illnesses is just as bad as more poison leading to the same Agent Orange illnesses. Stupid conclusion but seemingly logical on its face because obviously, Ranch Hand veterans were indeed much more exposed than those of us after the war. The AF fails to note, however, the fact that the CDC's Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry concluded our aircrews and maintenance personnel were exposed to a 200-fold greater cancer risk than the standard Army screening value...that the Air Force own tests of our aircraft showed our aircrews were exposed to 182 times the Army's safety standards for dioxin exposure. ATSDR concluded aircrews operating the C-123 were indeed exposed to TCDD! Additionally, many CDC and other government agencies' reports detail that long-term exposure to low density dioxin is perhaps even more dangerous than short-term exposure to high density! And Dr. Jeanne Stellman, who has conducted more research into military herbicides than any other scientist, concluded our aircrews were exposed to more military herbicides than most ground troops during the Vietnam War.

A major mistake of the VA and USAF is reliance on the 1994 and later studies of C-123 contamination. Their conclusions were guided by these studies but were reached totally without consideration of the fact that dioxin has a half-life of about seven years. The tests were not done until over 23 years has passed since the last Agent Orange spray missions and decades into the deterioration of the dioxin! ? They said we were not "exposed" but to keep us from medical care they used contamination data far, far lower than we actually had in the airplane 1972-1982.

Third, they say "exposures were unlikely to have exceeded standards." Here is the most artful deception. Obviously all the Air Force's own reports detail the "heavily contaminated C-123s, and USAF toxicologists have testified under oath that the aircraft were "a danger to public health." Just as obviously, the Army, CDC/ATSDR, Columbia University, Oregon Health Sciences University and so many others have officially stated that our aircraft were indeed contaminated. So...the VA and USAF took the position that the tests which were done establishing the airplanes' toxicity were themselves accurate regarding the contamination but were not appropriate to determine exposure. Here, for the first time, a government agency separates the issues of contamination from the issues of exposure! Here, the VA invented without foundation a position that the industry standard tests performed which determined C-123 contamination were unable to measure the dioxin to which veterans were exposed. And remember, they used 1994 tests of contamination to mislead about our 1972 exposure, when the dioxin was far more intense!

Do you see what they did? Do you see the lies, half-truths and outright vicious twisting of decades of C-123 tests to prevent aircrews from turning to the VA for our cancers, diabetes, heart disease, and other Agent Orange diseases?

These clumsy deceptions required the invention, new to toxicology, of a concept of "dry dioxin transfer" whereby the VA asserts all the dioxin remaining in the post-Vietnam airplanes was dry, and that somehow dry dioxin couldn't expose anyone. The ignored gold standard toxicology protocol that holds dermal exposure has no standard measurement.
-They also had to invent the pretense that the dioxin wasn't released by rain water which penetrated the C-123 both on the ground and aloft. 
-They had to invent the pretense that the dioxin wasn't released when we kicked up contaminated dust and inhaled it.
-They had to invent the pretense that the dioxin wasn't ingested when contaminated water and dust settled on our flight lunches, or when we had constant skin contact with the leather, canvas, wood, plastic, glass and painted metal of the C-123.
- They had to invent the pretense that we were not exposed because they were rabidly dedicated to save the VA the cost of treating our Agent Orange illnesses and the expense of burying the friends we've lost over the years since the C-123 fleet was retired. 
-They had to invent a false argument denying our exposure in order to counter established government findings that NO LEVEL OF DIOXIN POISON is considered "safe' - decisions reached by the National Institute of Environment Health Sciences as well as the US EPA! Following this logic, one would expect the VA and USAF to argue that any industrial situation where the dust had settled after an event (such as the first World Trade Center bombing or the State University of New York fire), somehow magically no further exposure to dioxin is possible. Science, logic, justice, law - all disagree with this deception!

It is clear that the present mission statement of the Department of Veterans Affairs requires an amendment...to it must be added "to prevent eligible veterans from receiving medical care".

Remember, comrades: the findings of the VA were political, not scientific. There was adequate evidence from the multitude of Air Force scientific studies and their interpretation in the light of TG312 and other standards, adequate evidence which greatly exceeded the VA's "more likely to than not" threshold for medical benefits. Forgotten in their stumbling effort to twist conclusions their way, AF and VA authorities seem to have ignored the fact that the EPA considers "excess" deaths risk to be above 1 per 100,000 and the point at which regulations must be triggered for most environmental toxins!

Forgotten in their efforts to keep us from receiving VA medical care was their moral obligation of honesty, of honor.

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