Mortality and morbidity among Army Chemical Corps Vietnam veterans: a preliminary report

Am J Ind Med. 1990;18(6):665-73. doi: 10.1002/ajim.4700180605.


Nearly 1,000 men serving in Army Chemical Corps units in Vietnam between 1965 and 1971 were responsible for the mixing and application of herbicides, riot control substances, and burning agents. Information on Vietnam service was obtained from military records of 94% of this cohort. Follow-up for vital status on December 31, 1987, was conducted using Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), military, National Death Index, U.S. Internal Revenue Service, and Social Security Administration records. Cause-specific observed numbers of deaths among the 894 men included in the study group were compared with the numbers expected based on rates for U.S. men, adjusting for race, age, and calendar period. Fifty-three deaths from all causes were observed during the study period, compared to 48.8 expected (SMR = 1.09). There were statistically significant excesses of digestive disease deaths (SMR = 2.98), primarily due to cirrhosis, and from motor vehicle accidents (SMR = 2.00). Two deaths were observed from leukemia (0.5 expected) and two from brain cancer (0.4 expected). A total of 257 of the study subjects had received VA inpatient care or Agent Orange registry medical examinations during the study period. Two of these subjects had confirmed diagnoses of Hodgkin's disease (expected = 0.7) and one of hairy cell leukemia. Because of the small study group size and the lack of specificity of information regarding their exposures, these results cannot be attributed to any single chemical agent.

MeSH terms

  • Cause of Death*
  • Chemical Warfare Agents / adverse effects*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Digestive System Diseases / mortality
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Morbidity
  • Neoplasms / mortality
  • Nervous System Diseases / mortality
  • United States / ethnology
  • Veterans / statistics & numerical data*
  • Vietnam


  • Chemical Warfare Agents