Just outside Saigon, Bien Hoa Airport has the highest levels of contamination in the world of the deadly toxin with 500,000 cubic meters of land with 1.18 million shares per trillion (ppt). Dioxin concentration at the air base ranges from 1,000ppt upwards, while 100ppt is considered high. The Vietnamese government plans to launch a decontamination campaign this year costing VND270 billion ($ 11.88 million). The program will also involve cleaning up the war-damaged munitions and building infrastructure to prepare for the clean-up of US air base in Dong Nai province, 30 kilometers (20 miles) from Saigon. The money will come from the state budget, but also from the US government and international partners ($ 500 million). Between 1961 and 1971, the US Army pulverized about 80 million liters of Agent Orange on 78,000 square kilometers in southern Vietnam.
Dioxin, a highly toxic chemical, remains in the soil and the bottom of lakes and rivers for generations, enters into the food chain through meat, fish and other animals, and has been found in alarming levels in human breast milk. Between 2.1 and 4.8 million Vietnamese were directly exposed to Agent Orange and other chemicals linked to cancers, congenital abnormalities, and other chronic diseases before the end of the war in April 1975, according to the Vietnam Red Cross. America’s first direct participation in cleanup efforts was a $ 84 million grant for a project at Da Nang International Airport in 2012. In 2016 Vietnam and the United States launched the second phase of a dioxin clean-up project in Da Nang City to treat 45,000 cubic meters of soil contaminated with the toxic chemical.
Today the Ministry of Health is still not able to link the diseases and handicaps of thousands of Vietnamese with dioxin. In 2008, the Vietnamese Ministry of Health published a list of 17 diseases and disabilities related to dioxin, but this list has never been updated. The US government has argued on his side that there is no clear link between Agent Orange and the many health problems known in Vietnam. The Vietnamese Association of Victims of Agent Orange estimates that there are tens of thousands of Dioxin victims up to the third generation, but as none of them have been officially recognized they can’t receive any support.