Agent Orange Used to Clear Canadian Roads Until 1970s
The cancer-causing chemical weapon Agent Orange was used to clear roadside brush in Ontario, Canada from the 1950s through the 1970s, a Toronto Star investigation has found. Records from those decades reveal that forestry workers worked as human markers for aircraft that sprayed the highly toxic defoliant down on them.
“We were saturated in chemicals,” 63-year-old Don Romanowich, who supervised aerial spraying, told the Star. “We were told not to drink the stuff but we had no idea.” He’s now developed a slow-growing cancer that may be caused by Agent Orange exposure.
The carcinogenic chemical weapon was developed by US chemical companies including Monsanto and Dow Chemical as a means of denying communist guerrilla fighters the jungle cover they were using to such advantage against the US troops who were trying to flush them out. American forces sprayed some 13 million gallons of the stuff over Vietnam in the 1960s and early 1970s. Agent Orange has caused immense suffering in Vietnam among the millions of people exposed to it, including a spike in cancer rates and horrific birth defects that continue to this day. Soil, water, animals and humans have been horribly contaminated. Many US troops who handled or were exposed to the chemical have also suffered from elevated cancer rates and birth defects in their children.
In Canada, hundreds of forestry workers were exposed. Medical research has found that dioxin from the Agent Orange attaches itself to fat cells and can remain in the body for decades, causing skin, liver, endocrine and reproductive problems as well as certain types of cancers.
The Canadian Ministry of Natural Resources says it is working with the Health, Labour and Environmental ministries “to ensure this matter is thoroughly investigated and that worker health and safety is protected.”
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