In the 20th century U.S. Citizens had unethical experiments performed on them without their knowledge or consent. I read an article about the U.S. Army spraying gas on St. Louis neighborhood during the cold war and I wanted to learn more. What I uncovered will take more than one blog to address, as the experimentation on U.S. citizens was vast. The experiments included:
- The exposure of humans to many chemical and biological weapons (including infection with deadly or debilitating diseases)
- Human radiation experiments
- Injection of toxic and radioactive chemicals
- Surgical experiments
- Interrogation experiments
- Torture experiments
- Tests using mind altering substances (like L.S.D.)
So, let’s go over them:
“In the 1950’s and 1960’s the U.S. Army used motorized blowers atop a low-income high rise, at schools and from the back of station wagons to send a potentially dangerous compound into the already hazy air in a predominately black neighborhood in St. Louis.” The Local government was told it was an aerial smoke screen so the Russians could not view St Louis in case of attack.”
Lisa Martino Taylor, a sociology professor at St. Louis Community College began researching the operation when one of her colleagues who grew up in the targeted area wondered if the testing caused her cancer. That same day a second woman who grew up in the same area, said she too had gotten cancer. Martino-Taylor researched the project for her doctorate thesis at University of Missouri.
The sprayers released Zinc Cadmium Sulfide into the air, and Dr. Martino Taylor suggested they included radioactive particles in with the mixture, though there is no direct evidence. In 1994 the testing in St. Louis was exposed to Congress with a demand for a health study. The study was sparse and relied on limited testing on animals. The conclusion is there were no adverse health effects.
The National Research Council recommended the U.S. Army perform a study to determine whether inhaled zinc cadmium sulfide breaks down into toxic compounds to be absorbed into the blood to produce toxicity in the organs.
The Army and Martino Taylor’s research did not reveal any additional studies nor has the Army responded to her.
The Plutonium Files-
Was the St. Louis project part of the Plutonium Files? The Plutonium Files began after the Manhattan Project and Martino Taylor believes the two are related. After the first atomic bomb was detonated scientists realized radiation was detrimental to human beings, which was confirmed when the U.S. dropped the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. So, scientists began their experiments on Americans.
In 1987 journalist Eileen Welsome (Albuquerque Tribune) discovered radiated animal carcasses on a near by Air Force Base. She began to dig and unearthed 6 million pages on experiments conducted on marginalized citizens in the U.S. The experimentation went on from the 1940’s to the 1970’s. A committee was appointed by the Clinton Administration. It was acknowledged that the committee members were comprised of members similar to the experimenters. While the victims were often minorities, poor and uneducated.
- In Nashville 829 pregnant women were given radioactive iron and told their babies would grow up strong (children and mothers developed cancer)
- In Massachusetts, 50-100 disabled boys were given oatmeal laced with radioactive tracers (an agreement between the Army and Quaker Oats)
- Veterans of the Atomic bomb development claimed the government exposed over 200,000 men over 200 atmospheric atomic and hydrogen bomb tests between 1945 through 1962
- Carl Heller designed a study to test the effects of radiation on the somatic and germinal cells of the testes, they used human, goat and other animal testes.
- 1945-1947 the U.S. Army injected 18 people with 4.7 micrograms of plutonium. The experiments were conducted under the leadership of Harold Hodge in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.
Operation Dew was actually 2 different projects that released biological agents into urban areas during the Cold War. The first was done over an area of 100-150 nautical miles (10-20 Km) off the coast of Georgia, North and South Carolina. They released zinc cadmium sulfide into the air to test the effect it would have over the people. LAC (Large Area Coverage) Operation was the experiment that was done in St. Louis. It was a US Army Chemical Corps operation that released zinc cadmium sulfide over much of the U.S. and Canada.
The U.S. Army and scientists specifically carried out these operations:
- 1950 – Six simulated attacks were conducted upon the San Francisco Bay Area. It was feasible to attack a seaport city with biological aerosol agents from a ship offshore
- 1952 – Operation Dew- Five trials off Georgia, North and South Carolina
- 1957 – North Sea, East coast of Britain which showed a large area coverage with particles
- Minnesota sprayed from 1953-1960’s
- Louis in Mid 1950’s and 1960’s via motorized blowers atop a project housing community Pruitt-Igoe, from station wagons and via planes
Like all these experiments they were Cold War operations designed to obtain information on the potential of biological weapons. They tested for range and effect on the people in the area in case of war. The experiments were done without consent or the quality information was poor. In some cases, the people were outright lied to. There are many more experimentation stories, these few were for bioweapons and radiation.
One final note, this was to be a big story gaining an apology from President Bill Clinton. He addressed the issues, apologized and admitted the travesty of the experimentation. It was over shadowed that day as O.J. Simpson was acquitted of the murders of his wife Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman. The experimentation story became a non-story that day.
- Hornblum Allen M.; Newman Judith Lynn; Dober Gregory J. (2013). Against Their Will: The Secret History of Medical Experimentation on Children in Cold War America. Palgrave Macmillan.
- Salter, Jim, Army Sprayed St. Louis with Toxic Aerosol During A Just Revealed 1950’s Test, Business Insider, (2012)https://www.businessinsider.com/army-sprayed-st-louis-with-toxic-dust-2012-10
- 10 Shocking Declassified Secrets, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lpGimggOo2k
- Secret Cold War Tests in St. Louis Cause Worry, (2012), https://www.cbsnews.com/news/secret-cold-war-tests-in-st-louis-cause-worry/\
- Chapter 9: Oregon and Washington Experiments, https://biotech.law.lsu.edu/research/reports/ACHRE/chap9_2.html
- Department of National Defence (Canada), Biological Warfare
- LeBaron, Wayne. America's Nuclear Legacy, (Google Books), Nova Publishers, 1998,
- Welsome, Eileen. The Plutonium Files: America's Secret Medical Experiments in the Cold War. New York, N.Y.: Dial Press, 1999.