0.14,1 .atre 0 milligrams per kilo of body weight. This would be only slightly less than the percentage that deformed one of every three fetuses of the pregnant rats, and only takes into account absorption through drinking water. TWO EVENTS focused public attention on the issue of 2,4,5-T. A herbicide Assessment Commission was formed inside the American Association for the Advancement of Science to investigate the effects of herbicidal warfare in Vietnam. And in April of 1970 hearings of the Senate Subcommittee on Energy, Natural Resources and the Environment brought up evidence of the birth-defect producing nature of 2,4,5-T in public hearings. On April 15, 1970, the U.S. surgeon general, Dr. Jesse L. Steinfield, announced measures to limit the use of 2,4,5-T and the same day Deputy Secretary of Defense David Packard announced the immediate suspension of 2,4,5-T use in Vietnam. But what this action on 2,4,5-T has obscured is the fact that 2,4-D was also shown in the Bionetics Study to be teratogenic. No action was taken on 2,4-D which is even more widely used. In an article entitled “A Family Likeness” \(Environment, Epstein discusses evidence against 2,4-D. including the one used in “Agent Orange” and the one commonly used in weed control, have also caused birth defects in animals. Dr. Epstein was co-chairman of the Advisory Panel on Teratogenicity of Pesticides which in 1969 recommended immediate restrictions to prevent risk of human exposure to the butyl, isopropyl and isoctyl esters of 2,4-D. General congenital defects found in the unborn animals consisted of missing or abnormally small eyes, and with the butyl ester, absence of the lower jaw. What has also obscured the issue is the allegation by Dow Chemical that the birth-defect producing agent in 2,4,5-T was not the 2,4,5-T iself, but a contaminant. This contaminant is often referred to as dioxin \(its full chemical name is has alleged that this “impurity” was present in the Bionetics sample at a concentration of 27 parts per million, and that Dow now produces a “pure” 2,4,5-T with a dioxin content of less than 1 part per million. It is absolutely true that the dioxin is highly toxic and teratogenic. According to Dr. Jacqueline Verrett \(who revealed the study showed the dioxin to be a million times as dangerous in producing birth defects as the notorious thalidomide. In 1965, Dow had to close down a plant in Midland, Mich., when 60 workers contracted chloracne from contact with the dioxin. Workers at a 2,4,5-T plant in New Jersey and at a plant in Germany also developed chloracne. Symptons include skin eruptions, disorders of the central nervous system, chronic fatigue and depression. In New Jersey, workers were said to be suffering the effects some six years later. Japan currently refuses to import shrimp from Vietnam because of the presence of dioxin. Because of doubts over the dioxin contaminant, testing was recently repeated by the FDA, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and Dow Chemical. Relatively “pure” samples of 2,4,5-T were used, containing less than one part per million of the dioxin contaminant. The preliminary results were presented at a closed conference on Feb. 24, 1970, at the FDA. The findings indicated that the purified 2,4,5-T caused birth abnormalities in rats, mice and hamsters. N A BOOK on herbicides which is appropriately named The Withering Rain points out that 2,4,5-T and 2,4-D belong to a family’ of chemicals known as polychlorinated phenolic compounds. They are used in such common products as soaps, paints, laundry starches, deodorants and asphalt, and have been shown to be in some cases highly toxic and potential sources of dioxin. Apparently any chlorophenol when heated sufficiently can be converted into a dioxin, which brings to mind the possibility of defoliated trees either being burned in brush piles or as firewood. There have been no studies of the effects of dioxin abosrbed through respiration. So, why, in the face of evidence that 2,4,5-T and 2,4-D represent an imminent hazard to human health, are these herbicides in widespread use? Why did it take three years for the findings to surface out of officialdom? Between 1965 and 1968, herbicide sales jumped from $207 million to $483 million. According to Epstein, herbicide sales probably will reach $1 billion in 1970 and are expected to climb 30 percent during the next five years. By 1975 they may account for 60 percent of pesticide sales. 2,4,5-T and 2,4-D have all the momentum of war production behind them, and the withering rain is pounding down into the domestic marketplace. The example of an Environmental Protection Agency ruling on the use of 2,4,5-T on riceland is instructive. In May, 1970, the EPA cancelled the registrations of 2,4,5-T products for use on food crops intended for human consumption and suspended liquid formulations of 2,4,5-T for aquatic and home use. 2,4,5-T is being used extensively on riceland in Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi today. After an EPA cancellation, the producing company is told that it can appeal the decision. An appeal has the effect of staying the order. This is exactly what Dow Chemical was able to do with the cancellation order on 2,4,5-T for use on rice. U.S. District Judge Oren Harris in Arkansas enjoined the EPA from proceeding with planned public hearings until he ruled on Dow’s request for reinstatement of registration on rice. So not only was the EPA ruling never put into effect, the EPA was enjoined against any further action on 2,4,5-T. And while this EPA “gag rule” was in effect, the Department of Agriculture, rather than backing up the EPA decision, issued a report on “The Economic Impact of Cancelling the Use of 2,4,5-T in Rice Production” saying that rice growers who currently spend $400,000 on 2,4,5-T in Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi could lose approximately $4.9 million in yield and quality if the 2,4,5-T was banned. It is March 1, 1974 11
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