09 April 2013

CDC Stands Up For C-123 Veterans on Agent Orange Exposure

In January 2012 we received an opinion confirming our Agent Orange exposure on the C-123s from the ATSDR, part of the Center for Disease Control.. This was a big step for us, giving scientific as well as federal agency merit to our claims with the VA. The Army operates the Joint Services Records Research Center to advise the VA on veterans claims and whether official documentation exists to support them, It has been responding to VA inquiries with negative answers. 
This letter of 6 March 2013 was requested by the JSRRC from the CDC/Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry to clarify further their initial finding letter about that aircraft were contaminated and our veterans exposed---and without any reservation ATSDR again said YES in this letter to JSRRC authorities. This time, to make sure their point was clear, the ATSDR director himself rammed their point home...which was, the C-123 veterans were exposed...heavily!
Unfortunately, VA advised Wes Carter and Marlene Wentworth during our meeting them at Compensation Services on 28 February 2013 that no such information from US Government agencies is acceptable in the VA's evaluation of veterans' Agent Orange exposure claims. This flows from the VA's earlier determination by its Health Benefits Administration forbidding C-123 claim approvals - the VA has implemented a policy that there actually was no exposure to Agent Orange by any veteran, including Ranch Hand and others with "boots on the ground" excepting only those with diagnosed chloracne. A recent addition of "bioavailability" to VA requirements means, because no veteran other than those with chloracne can prove individual bioavailability, therefore no veteran has ever been "exposed" in the VA's perspective.

Still, this and other documents certainly spell success in other forums such as the Board of Veterans Appeals and federal court. So take heart...not everyone in government is determined to deny us quality VA medical care (which I'm blessed with for the next two weeks here in Seattle), and thank God for men like Dr. Portier who lends his professionalism to our cause!

Domenic Baldini
Chief, Joint Services Records
Research Center US Army
Records Management and
Declassification Agency
Dear Mr. Baldini:
On January 25, 2012, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) sent the
attached letter to Wesley T. Carter, USAF Retired. Major Carter had contacted ATSDR seeking
an opinion about his potential exposure to 2,3,7,8 tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) while
flying C-123 aircraft from 1972-1982. The letter represented the opinion of ATSDR and our
subject matter experts.
The ATSDR letter to Major Carter included several important findings. Information contained
within parentheses have been added for explanation:
• ATSDR calculated an average value of 6.36 ng TCDD/100 cm squared
for the three C-123 interior the wipe samples three collected on November 20, 1994. 
This calculation was based on information from a consultative letter from Capt Wade Weisman
 & Ronald Porter (see footnote 3 in correspondence to Major Carter).
This value is 182 times higher than the screening value established by the United States
Army Center for health Promotion and Preventive Medicine — Technical Guide 312.
(see footnote 2 in correspondence to Major Carter.) [Levels below a screening value are
often considered acceptable. Levels above the screening value are often considered
unacceptable because of an associated health risk.]
• ATSDR pointed out that the average value of the three wipe samples represented a 200-
fold excess cancer risk above the screening value established by the Department of the
• ATSDR stated that the office worker scenario used in Technical Guide 312 likely
underestimates the daily exposures of Air Force flight personnel inside confined
contaminated aircraft but that this depends upon exposed skin surface area, duration of
exposure, hand washing, and food intake as well as airborne dust].
• ATSDR stated that TCDD levels on-board contaminated planes were likely higher in
1972-1982 than in 1994 when samples were taken.
• ATSDR stated that it could not exclude inhalation for ingestion] exposures to TCDD
while working on contaminated aircraft.
• Based upon the available information. ATSDR concluded that aircrew operating in this,
and similar, environments were exposed to TCDD.
I hope this information is useful. Please contact XXX  if you have any questions.
ChristopherJ. Portier, P.h.D.
Director, National Center, and Environmental Health and Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry

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