Indices of TCDD exposure and TCDD body burden in veterans of Operation Ranch Hand

J. E. Michalek, W. H. Wolfe, J. C. Miner, T. M. Papa, J. L. Pirkle

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    41 Scopus citations


    Using responses from a questionnaire detailing herbicide exposure during service in Vietnam and information on job classifications, we investigated the relationship between 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) body burden and self-reported exposure in enlisted members of Operation Ranch Hand, the United States Air Force herbicide spraying mission in Vietnam. We constructed three TCDD exposure indices from the questionnaire data: the number of days of skin exposure (DAYS), the percentage of skin area exposed (PCNT), and a combined index (SRI) which was the product of these and the concentration of TCDD in the herbicide. A fourth index (AFI) based on gallons of herbicide sprayed and the number of men on the job was also studied. The regression model most predictive of TCDD levels (R2 = 0.61) included job classification (divided into four categories), the number of days of skin exposure, percent body fat during the tour of duty, and relative change in body fat. A model with job classification alone had an R2 of 0.60. The four exposure indices were constructed to further explain TCDD exposure in the job classifications with the highest potential for exposure: Ranch Hand flight engineers and ground crew. In these two groups, days of skin exposure was the index most significantly associated with TCDD levels. Overall, the best index of exposure was the number of days of skin exposure to herbicide.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)209-223
    Number of pages15
    JournalJournal of exposure analysis and environmental epidemiology
    Issue number2
    StatePublished - 1995

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Environmental Chemistry
    • Toxicology
    • General Environmental Science
    • Pollution
    • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
    • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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