Public Radio Guam header image 1
December 2, 2013 @ 10:19 pm

Ep. 167 “Agent Orange in Guam, Part 3: Determining Health Risks and Disparities”

(hosted by Dr. Vivian Dames with production assistance of Joy White)  airs 11/15/13.       

This episode is the third in a series on Agent Orange exposure in Guam.  The first in this series (Ep. 149) featured interviews with two retired and disabled US Air Force veterans, Master Sergeant Leroy Foster and Sgt. Ralph Stanton who are key figures in the campaign to uncover the extent of damage done to veterans, their dependants, and civil service employees stationed at Anderson Air Force Base-Guam during the Vietnam War era. The second episode (Ep. 152) featured interviews with four Guam veterans and advocates for the local veteran community who discuss Agent Orange exposure in Guam as a compensatory justice issue for veterans and as an environmental justice issue for the local community.  

Approximately 270 veterans once based in Guam — have applied with the  Veterans  Administration for Agent Orange benefits. Many of their diseases are found on the VA's official list of 14 ailments recognized as presumptive diseases associated with exposure to Agent Orange or other herbicides. These diseases include several different cancers, diabetes mellitus (Type 2), Parkinson's disease, chloracne, peripheral neuropathy, and ischemic heart disease. Several of these veteran claims of exposure in Guam have been awarded despite the fact that Guam is not listed on the VA website as an exposure location.  This is because the  Defense Department maintains that there are no official records that Agent Orange was ever sent to Guam. However, evidence provided by Master Sgt Leroy Foster and Sgt Ralph Stanton of their handling and spraying of Agent Orange in Guam raise questions about possible direct effects on the local population as well as long term health risks for those all those exposed and their descendants.     

Epidemiology is the branch of medicine that deals with the incidence, distribution, and possible control of diseases and other factors relating to health.  On today’s program we talk with two Guam epidemiologists, Dr. Robert Haddock (recorded June 3, 2013)  and Dr. Yvette C. Paulino (recorded July 16, 2013) about the challenge of assessing health risks and disparities associated with Guam’s toxic burden due to military activities in general and, more specifically, to reported Agent Orange exposure.  Drs. Haddock and Paulino are currently analyzing the information provided by Sgts Foster and Stanton about Agent Orange spraying in Guam during the 60s and 70s.   

Dr. Robert Haddock  ( came to Guam in 1968 to direct the rabies eradication program and was appointed Territorial Epidemiologist in 1972.  He retired from the Government of Guam in 2004 but continues to work as an epidemiology consultant for the Department of Public Health and Social Services as well as serving as the current Director of the Guam Cancer Registry.  He has a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from Michigan State University and a Master of Public Health degree from the University of Hawaii. He is editor of A History of Health on Guam (2010) which includes a chapter he authored on Environmental Health.  

Dr. Yvette C. Paulino (, is an Assistant Professor of Health Sciences at the University of Guam and the first Chamorro epidemiologist.  She graduated from the University of Guam with degrees in Biology (BA in 2002; MS in 2005).  She completed her PhD in Epidemiology (2009) from the University of Hawaii-Manoa then returned to Guam where she is active in teaching and research, and serves with community groups that work to improve the health of our people. She is currently the Chair of the Data and Surveillance Team of the Guam Non-Communicable Disease Consortium. Dr. Paulino  grew up in the area adjacent to the Agana Springs PCB Superfund site.  In 2012 , the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency working with the Guam Environmental Protection Agency completed the cleanup of contaminated soil from a former military water pump station at Agana Springs, removing approximately 320 tons of PCB contaminated soil. Like Agent Orange, PCBs have been determined to be a probable human carcinogen, and may cause a variety of other adverse health effects on the immune system, reproductive system, nervous system, and endocrine system.

Share | Download(Loading)
Public Radio Guam
Loading Downloads



Play this podcast on Podbean App