WMD Britain: How MoD scientists tested chemical weapons including anthrax and the PLAGUE on soldiers and members of the public – and even released dangerous bacteria on the Tube
- Scientists experimented on 21,000 servicemen between 1939 and 1989
- New book reveals horrors of unwitting Ministry of Defence test subjects
- ‘Plague-like’ bacteria spores were even released on London Underground
- Volunteers suffered agonising chemical burns, breakdowns and even death
The gruesome reality of chemical experiments carried out by the Ministry of Defence at a controversial ‘military science park’ over the course of 50 years has been revealed.
Teenager soldiers and servicemen unwittingly volunteered to be human ‘guinea pigs’ for a series of experiments at Porton Down, in Wiltshire, in the hope of a bit of extra cash.
But the unsuspecting volunteers were exposed to Sarin gas, anthrax and even the Black Death, a new book has revealed.
One victim was left convulsing with ‘terrible stuff coming out of his mouth like frogspawn’; another teenage serviceman believed he had a four-hour conversation with a school-friend who had died years before, after being injected with a brain-incapacitating drug.
Incredibly, thousands of members of the British public were also unknowingly exposed by government scientists who released spores of a ‘plague-like’ bacteria on the London Underground in 1963.
Eerie: Volunteers line up to be experimented on at ‘military science park’ Porton Down, in Wiltshire. Scientists exposed volunteers to potentially dangerous gases to measure how much was absorbed by the masks
Controversial: Protesters outside Porton Down, in Wiltshire, where the Ministry of Defence carried out chemical and biological experiments on 21,000 servicemen between 1939 and 1989
Although considered harmless at the time Bacillus globigii – or BG to use its military moniker – can in fact cause food poisoning, eye infections, and even potentially deadly septicaemia.
But none of the London commuters were ever told of the experiment.
Scientists at Porton Down assured their thousands of military volunteers that they were ‘totally safe’ before exposing them to a series of dangerous experiments.
Despite being turned into ‘guinea pigs’ by their own government, 21,000 servicemen between 1939 and 1989 were only offered token payments, a day off, or even just a free bus pass.
Decades later, in 2008, the government finally apologised for the atrocities that had been carried out on human ‘guinea pigs’ and paid compensation to 670 of the victims.
Historian Ulf Schmidt, a leading academic of modern history at the University of Kent, has revealed exactly what the shocking experiments entailed and the horrific effects they had on their ‘participants’.
The historian, who acted as an expert witness in the Porton Down investigation, has revealed his findings in a new book ‘Secret Science: A Century of Poison Warfare and Human Experiments.
Here are some of the most disturbing case studies he has revealed.
Many thousands of Londoners were put at considerable risk by the Ministry of Defence experimentation.
On July 26, 1963, a harmful virus was unleashed on the London Underground.
Spores of the virus Bacillus globigii were released at Colliers Wood, in a tiny box disguised as a make-up compact.
Unknowing test subjects: On July 26, 1963, scientists released spores of the harmful virus Bacillus globigii on the London Underground (right) to test how anthrax spores would travel. The spores were unleashed at Colliers Wood, in a box disguised as a make-up compact (left)
Scientists were trying to discover whether ‘long distance travel of aerosols’ on London’s transport network ‘was due to transportation within trains’ or through the air ventilation systems.
The virus, although considered harmless at the time, has since been proved to cause food poisoning, eye infections and even potentially-deadly septicaemia.
But none of the commuters dusted with the spores were ever warned or contacted afterwards.
Government officials decided that in order to maintain national security, the trial should be kept under wraps.
‘Guinea pig’: RAF engineer Ronald Maddison, 20, unwittingly volunteered to be exposed to Sarin gas, a deadly nerve agent now classified by the UN as a weapon of mass destruction. He died in May 1953
Ronald Maddison, an RAF engineer from Co Durham, was just 20 when he signed up for one of the hundreds of experiments carried out at the ‘military science park’ of Porton Down, in May 1953.
Assured that he was in no danger, he was guided into a gas chamber with five other test subjects, dressed in oversized overalls, woollen hats and respirators for protection.
Scientists applied twenty drops of liquid to two layers of cloth used in uniforms, serge and flannel, which had been taped to the inside of his forearm.
Just hours later the hapless volunteer was dead, the victim of the most severe case of nerve gas poisoning ever recorded in the western world.
He had been exposed to Sarin, a deadly nerve agent that is now classified by the UN as a weapon of mass destruction.
Ambulance driver Alfred Thornhill, who was 19 years old at the time of Maddison’s death, spoke as an eyewitness at the inquest into his death.
‘I had never seen anyone die before and what that lad went through was absolutely horrific,’ he told the inquest.
‘It was like he was being electrocuted, his whole body was convulsing.
‘The skin was vibrating and there was all this terrible stuff coming out of his mouth…it looked like frogspawn.’
He added: ‘I saw his leg rise up from the bed and I saw his skin begin turning blue. It started from the ankle and started spreading up his leg.
‘It was like watching somebody pouring a blue liquid into a glass, it just began filling up.
‘It was like watching something from outer space and then one of the doctors produced the biggest needle I had ever seen.
‘The sister saw me gawping and told me to get out.’
In payment for the trial that killed him, Maddison was offered 15 shillings and three-day leave pass. He had planned to use the money to buy an engagement ring for his girlfriend.
The British government finally consented to an inquest into his death, half a century after the event.
Unwitting volunteers: The chemistry laboratory at ‘military science park’ Porton Down, in Wiltshire. An total of 21,000 servicemen volunteered to take part in experiments between 1939 and 1989, designed to test chemical and biological weapons capabilities
Airman Richard Skinner, a 19-year-old from Aberdeenshire, arrived at Porton in mid-1972 in the hope of earning some extra cash.
He volunteered himself for what was then described as a ‘mild dose of anaesthetic’.
He was actually injected with the new drug T3436, which had been designed as a means to incapacitate the human brain.
At a hearing, 30 years later, he described how his only hazy recollection of the experiment was a long conversation with a dead school-friend.
In video footage of the experiment, the young Skinner can be seen talking to a fire extinguisher for more than four hours.
He is, to this day, convinced that the mind-altering experiment fundamentally changed his personality.
Thousands of servicemen were locked into gas chambers pumped full of potentially lethal toxins, in a series of experiments designed to test protective clothing carried out over the decades.
In one of these life-threatening experiments, in March 1943, six servicemen were exposed to nitrogen vapour for an hour a day for up to five consecutive days.
But all six volunteers had to be removed from the test, after suffering agonising chemical burns to their armpits, scrotums and scalps.
A 20-year-old corporal, Harry Hogg, was one of those exposed to the poisonous gas.
He later spoke out about his experience in the chamber.
Gruesome: Scientists at Porton Down ushered thousands of servicemen into gas chambers pumped full of potentially lethal toxins over the decades, to test protective clothing
‘It seemed like an eternity. They opened the door and we all piled out on hands and knees, groaning and moaning and crying… one man was just like an animal.
‘He was trying to eat grass. He was out of his mind. What we went through was horrendous.’
In 1944, a Porton Down report insisted that most of those involved in the experiment enjoyed their experience.
In February 1995, Labour politician Rachel Squire demanded that the Ministry of Defence investigate Harry Hogg’s case specifically, as Porton Down bosses tried to deny that he was ever there.
Anthrax was also a key feature of Porton Down experiments, as scientists investigated its capabilities for biological warfare, along with venereal diseases and the bubonic plague.
Porton Down scientists launched Operation Cauldron in 1952, to test the potential of the bubonic plague as a weapon.
The trial took place in the Outer Hebrides, aboard the HMS Ben Lomond.
Trial-run: Scientists investigated the bubonic plague as a biological weapon, aboard the HMS Ben Lomond (pictured) in the Outer Hebrides in 1952, as part of Operation Cauldron
But in an unexpected twist the trawler Carella, with 18 people aboard, strayed into the test area.
Rather than warn or offer treatment to those aboard, researchers were ordered to track the trawler as it continued on its course to Iceland, to monitor what happened.
Incredibly, the crew were even allowed to dock for a few days at Blackpool, with no regard for public safety.
If any of the crew members became sick, medical officers had been instructed to diagnose pneumonia.
Luckily, no crew members or members of the public reported any illness, and those involved in the operation were ordered to burn all records of their communications.
Lennox Castle Hospital is one of four Scottish institutions alleged to have been involved
He said: “Six and seven year olds were tied to racks and given electric shocks.
“I was incarcerated with orderlies armed with rubber coshes.
“We were imprisoned, experimented upon, lobotomies, you name it, they did it.
“I was there, I saw it with my own eyes.
We were imprisoned, experimented upon, lobotomies, you name it, they did it
“The drug programme ran from 1948 to 1982.
“I believe this happened throughout the UK but I’m referring to Scotland.
“I have this evidence, on paper and on film, and I will hand it to the public inquiry.
“It was like something out of Auschwitz and people will be full of revulsion when they learn the state allowed this to happen.”
Lennox Castle Hospital, which closed in 2002 and is now the site of Celtic FC’s training ground, was home to children and adults with learning difficulties or conditions such as Down’s syndrome, as well as truants, unmarried mothers and wayward teenagers.
Some patients were sent there as children, often for the most trivial reasons, and ended up spending decades locked up.
Conditions improved after a series of damning reports and investigations, including a 1986 World in Action TV documentary which led to questions in the House of Commons.
Last night, Professor Ulf Schmidt of the University of Kent, Britain’s leading expert on human experimentation at Porton Down, said he had never heard of a drug trial programme involving orphans.
He added: “That is not to say these experiments didn’t happen, but I would be very cautious in dealing with these allegations.
“Some stories have appeared and reappeared over the past 50 years, including a similar one about drug testing and euthanasia involving elderly people that was eventually shown to be false.”
Six years ago hundreds of veterans who ‘volunteered’ to take part in tests at Porton Down were offered £3million in compensation.
They were exposed to nerve agents, such as sarin gas, and hallucinogens, such as LSD.
In the most infamous case, from 1953, Ronald Maddison took part in a trial of what he believed was a cold remedy, but died within an hour of having sarin dabbed on his arm.
Other Porton Down experiments included spraying bacteria over the south coast of England and dropping cancer-causing particles from planes.
And Gruinard Island in Wester Ross had to be sealed off for almost 50 years after it was contaminated with anthrax during the Second World War.
Porton Down is the home of the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, an agency of the Ministry of Defence.
A spokeswoman said: “We are not aware of any tests involving children at Portown Down and have seen absolutely no evidence to back up these claims.”
The Ministry of Defence turned large parts of the country into a giant laboratory to conduct a series of secret germ warfare tests on the public.A government report just released provides for the first time a comprehensive official history of Britain’s biological weapons trials between 1940 and 1979.
Many of these tests involved releasing potentially dangerous chemicals and micro-organisms over vast swaths of the population without the public being told.
While details of some secret trials have emerged in recent years, the 60-page report reveals new information about more than 100 covert experiments.
The report reveals that military personnel were briefed to tell any ‘inquisitive inquirer’ the trials were part of research projects into weather and air pollution.
The tests, carried out by government scientists at Porton Down, were designed to help the MoD assess Britain’s vulnerability if the Russians were to have released clouds of deadly germs over the country.
In most cases, the trials did not use biological weapons but alternatives which scientists believed would mimic germ warfare and which the MoD claimed were harmless. But families in certain areas of the country who have children with birth defects are demanding a public inquiry.
One chapter of the report, ‘The Fluorescent Particle Trials’, reveals how between 1955 and 1963 planes flew from north-east England to the tip of Cornwall along the south and west coasts, dropping huge amounts of zinc cadmium sulphide on the population. The chemical drifted miles inland, its fluorescence allowing the spread to be monitored. In another trial using zinc cadmium sulphide, a generator was towed along a road near Frome in Somerset where it spewed the chemical for an hour.
While the Government has insisted the chemical is safe, cadmium is recognised as a cause of lung cancer and during the Second World War was considered by the Allies as a chemical weapon.
In another chapter, ‘Large Area Coverage Trials’, the MoD describes how between 1961 and 1968 more than a million people along the south coast of England, from Torquay to the New Forest, were exposed to bacteria including e.coli and bacillus globigii , which mimics anthrax. These releases came from a military ship, the Icewhale, anchored off the Dorset coast, which sprayed the micro-organisms in a five to 10-mile radius.
The report also reveals details of the DICE trials in south Dorset between 1971 and 1975. These involved US and UK military scientists spraying into the air massive quantities of serratia marcescens bacteria, with an anthrax simulant and phenol.
Similar bacteria were released in ‘The Sabotage Trials’ between 1952 and 1964. These were tests to determine the vulnerability of large government buildings and public transport to attack. In 1956 bacteria were released on the London Underground at lunchtime along the Northern Line between Colliers Wood and Tooting Broadway. The results show that the organism dispersed about 10 miles. Similar tests were conducted in tunnels running under government buildings in Whitehall.
Experiments conducted between 1964 and 1973 involved attaching germs to the threads of spiders’ webs in boxes to test how the germs would survive in different environments. These tests were carried out in a dozen locations across the country, including London’s West End, Southampton and Swindon. The report also gives details of more than a dozen smaller field trials between 1968 and 1977.
In recent years, the MoD has commissioned two scientists to review the safety of these tests. Both reported that there was no risk to public health, although one suggested the elderly or people suffering from breathing illnesses may have been seriously harmed if they inhaled sufficient quantities of micro-organisms.
However, some families in areas which bore the brunt of the secret tests are convinced the experiments have led to their children suffering birth defects, physical handicaps and learning difficulties.
David Orman, an army officer from Bournemouth, is demanding a public inquiry. His wife, Janette, was born in East Lulworth in Dorset, close to where many of the trials took place. She had a miscarriage, then gave birth to a son with cerebral palsy. Janette’s three sisters, also born in the village while the tests were being carried out, have also given birth to children with unexplained problems, as have a number of their neighbours.
The local health authority has denied there is a cluster, but Orman believes otherwise. He said: ‘I am convinced something terrible has happened. The village was a close-knit community and to have so many birth defects over such a short space of time has to be more than coincidence.’
Successive governments have tried to keep details of the germ warfare tests secret. While reports of a number of the trials have emerged over the years through the Public Records Office, this latest MoD document – which was released to Liberal Democrat MP Norman Baker – gives the fullest official version of the biological warfare trials yet.
Baker said: ‘I welcome the fact that the Government has finally released this information, but question why it has taken so long. It is unacceptable that the public were treated as guinea pigs without their knowledge, and I want to be sure that the Ministry of Defence’s claims that these chemicals and bacteria used were safe is true.’
The MoD report traces the history of the UK’s research into germ warfare since the Second World War when Porton Down produced five million cattle cakes filled with deadly anthrax spores which would have been dropped in Germany to kill their livestock. It also gives details of the infamous anthrax experiments on Gruinard on the Scottish coast which left the island so contaminated it could not be inhabited until the late 1980s.
The report also confirms the use of anthrax and other deadly germs on tests aboard ships in the Caribbean and off the Scottish coast during the 1950s. The document states: ‘Tacit approval for simulant trials where the public might be exposed was strongly influenced by defence security considerations aimed obviously at restricting public knowledge. An important corollary to this was the need to avoid public alarm and disquiet about the vulnerability of the civil population to BW [biological warfare] attack.’
Sue Ellison, spokeswoman for Porton Down, said: ‘Independent reports by eminent scientists have shown there was no danger to public health from these releases which were carried out to protect the public.
‘The results from these trials_ will save lives, should the country or our forces face an attack by chemical and biological weapons.’
Asked whether such tests are still being carried out, she said: ‘It is not our policy to discuss ongoing research.’
How British government carried out secret biological warfare tests on London Tube passengers in 1960s during Cold War
- New research suggests Britons were exposed to chemical tests
- Biological warfare tests apparently more widespread than once thought
- Professor Ulf Schmidt said there were secret trials on the Tube in 1964
- ‘Mock’ chemical warfare tests on thousands of Britons from 1953 to 1964
Secret biological warfare tests were carried out on Tube passengers by the British government during the Cold War to a greater extent than previously thought,according to new research.
Hundreds of thousands of Britons were subjected to ‘mock’ biological and chemical warfare attacks in more than 750 secret operations, with 4,600kg of chemical zinc cadmium sulphide dispersed from ships, aircraft and lorries between 1953 and 1964.
Professor Ulf Schmidt, a leading academic of modern history at the University of Kent, has also discovered that passengers on London’s Underground were subjected to chemical exposure during secret trials on the Tube.
Hundreds of thousands of Britons were subjected to ‘mock’ biological and chemical warfare tests in 750 secret operations, including a secret operation on the London Underground network during May 1964 (above)
Secret tests on the Tube saw large quantities of the bacteria Bacillus globigii released on the Underground system in May 1964 by scientists from the government’s military research base at Porton Down in Wiltshire
The secret operation, carried out by scientists from the government’s controversial military research base at Porton Down in Wiltshire, saw large quantities of the bacteria Bacillus globigii released on the Underground system in May 1964.
Scientists were apparently trying to discover whether ‘long distance travel of aerosols’ on London’s transport network ‘was due to transportation within trains’ or through the air ventilation systems, according to The Independent.
Bacillus globigii was not considered harmful at the time, but research over the last decade has revealed it is capable of causing food poisoning, fevers and septicemia.
Historians had previously thought that such tests in the UK were less extensive but new research has revealed how widespread they actually were.
For the first time, researchers have learned that British military aircraft dropped thousands of kilos of the potentially dangerous zinc cadmium sulphide chemical over several towns including Norwich in Norfolk, Salisbury in Wiltshire and Cardington in Bedfordshire, as well as over the English Channel and North Sea.
Historians had previously thought that such chemical tests in the UK were less extensive but new research has revealed how widespread they were, including the discovery of one of the Tube in the 1960s (pictured)
Scientists released large quantities of the bacteria Bacillus globigii – now known to cause food poisoning – on the Underground system in May 1964, in a bid to apparently discover whether ‘long distance travel of aerosols’ on London’s transport network ‘was due to transportation within trains’ or through the air ventilation systems
While very little evidence exists on the dangers and health effects of the chemical, which can be easily detected under UV light, it is believed that its use in the 1960s did not cause immediate health problems.
WHAT IS ZINC CADMIUM SULPHIDE?
Zinc cadmium sulphide
Zinc cadmium sulphide is a fluorescent hard, sintered, crystalline compound used by the British government during chemical warfare tests between 1953 and 1964.
It is soluble in water and is now mainly used for photography purpoposes – particularly in radiographic imaging intensification screens because it emits a yellow-green light when excited by x-rays.
During the government’s trials it is estimated that 250kg of Zinc cadmium sulphide was dispersed from land-based sites, mainly RAF Beaulieu airfield and Porton Down, and up to a further 4600kg from ships and aircraft mainly over BDE Cardington, Bedfordshire and over the English Channel and the North Sea.
While the health effects of zinc cadmium sulphide are not widely recorded, research indicates that it is relatively harmless.
Scientists state that the ‘worst case’ exposure levels would give the same health effects as smoking 100 cigarettes – which may ultimately have led to lung disease later down the line.
However, tests concluded that exposure arising from the chemical trials did not significantly increase the level to which the population is normally exposed.
However, researchers state that the ‘worst case’ exposure levels would have given the same health effects as smoking 100 cigarettes – which may ultimately have led to lung disease at a later stage.
Professor Schmidt has revealed the full extent of the chemical warfare trials in a new book called Secret Science, published today.
He has also uncovered how more than 21,000 soldiers were used as ‘guinea pigs’ between 1939 and 1989 after participating in secret experiments.
The military personnel were apparently offered incentives such as free train passes, a day off, or some extra money for being exposed to potentially dangerous chemicals.
Professor Schmidt believes the men were misinformed about the then-unknown consequences of exposure to the chemical and instead thinks they were under the impression that they were taking part in trials to treat common colds.
The Ministry of Defence’s Porton Down research centre on Salisbury Plain has been the subject of much controversy over the years.
In July 1999, an inquiry was opened into the deaths of servicemen allegedly used as ‘guinea pigs’ in secret military chemical warfare tests at the centre.
The men took part in tests during a 30-year period from the 1950s to the 1980s.
A Wiltshire Police investigation into their deaths revealed there was criminal liability arising out of the conduct of some former scientists but it was confirmed in 2006 that there was insufficient evidence to pursue a criminal prosecution.
Many servicemen and women who took part in the tests at Porton Down said they believed they were taking part in experiments to find a cure for the common cold but claimed they were actually exposed to CS gas, mustard gas and hallucinogens such as LSD.
The latest findings on the extent of chemical warfare tests in Britain come after it emerged last year that former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher had considered arming Britain with chemical weapons to counter the Soviet threat during the Cold War.
A group of 100 supporters demonstrating against germ warfare at the government’s Porton Down military research facility in Salisbury Plain, Wiltshire, which has been at the subject of controversy over the years
Secret documents emerged in December which revealed the then prime minister said it was potentially ‘negligent’ not to have them – as intelligence reports suggested the enemy could use chemicals against the West.
Officials believed the Soviets were storing hundreds of thousands of tons of nerve agents, and estimated an attack on a major British airport would leave thousands dead.
In a 1984 memo, Mrs Thatcher’s private secretary, Charles Powell, summarised a meeting in which then defence secretary Michael Heseltine warned the lack of chemical weapons was a ‘major gap’ in Nato’s defences.
‘The defence secretary said that colleagues were aware of the threat posed by the Soviet Union in this file. The absence of an adequate retaliatory capability was a major gap in Nato’s armoury,’ he wrote.
Revealed: Army scientists secretly sprayed St Louis with ‘radioactive’ particles for YEARS to test chemical warfare technology
The United States Military conducted top secret experiments on the citizens of St. Louis, Missouri, for years, exposing them to radioactive compounds, a researcher has claimed.
While it was known that the government sprayed ‘harmless’ zinc cadmium silfide particles over the general population in St Louis, Professor Lisa Martino-Taylor, a sociologist at St. Louis Community College, claims that a radioactive additive was also mixed with the compound.
She has accrued detailed descriptions as well as photographs of the spraying which exposed the unwitting public, predominantly in low-income and minority communities, to radioactive particles.
Test: Sociologist Lisa Martino-Taylor, right, a sociologist at St. Louis Community College, has spent years tracking down declassified documents to uncover the lengths which the US experimented on people without their knowing. At left, cadmium sulfide, the ‘harmless’ chemical sprayed on the public is pictured
Spray: She has accrued detailed descriptions as well as photographs of the spraying, which took place as part of Manhattan-Rochester Coalition, which was an operation that dispersed zinc cadmium silfide particles over the general population, a compound that was presented as completely safe
‘The study was secretive for reason. They didn’t have volunteers stepping up and saying yeah, I’ll breathe zinc cadmium sulfide with radioactive particles,’ said Professor Martino-Taylor to KSDK.
Through her research, she found photographs of how the particles were distributed from 1953-1954 and 1963-1965.
In Corpus Christi, the chemical was dropped from airplanes over large swathes of city. In St Louis, the Army put chemical sprayers on buildings, like schools and public housing projects, and mounted them in station wagons for mobile use.
Despite the extent of the experiment, local politicians were not notified about the content of the testing. The people of St Louis were told that the Army was testing smoke screens to protect cities from a Russian attack.
‘It was pretty shocking. The level of duplicity and secrecy. Clearly they went to great lengths to deceive people,’ Professor Martino-Taylor said.
Controversial: But Professor Martino-Taylor says that it wasn’t just the ‘harmless’ compound, radioactive particles were also sprayed on the unwitting public. A woman refills the spray canisters in this archive picture
Scope: In St Louis, the Army put chemical sprayers on buildings, like schools and public housing projects, and mounted them in station wagons for mobile use
She accrued hundreds of pages of declassified information, which she has made available online.
In her research, she found that the greatest concentration of spraying in St Louis was at the Pruitt-Igoe public housing complex, which was home to 10,000 low income residents. She said that 70 per cent of those residents were children under the age of 12.
Professor Martino-Taylor became interested in the topic after hearing independent reports of cancers among city residents living in those areas at the time.
‘This was a violation of all medical ethics, all international codes, and the military’s own policy at that time,’ said Professor Martino-Taylor.
How To: Despite the extent of the experiment, local politicians were not notified about the content of the testing. In this picture, a man demonstrates how to spray the canisters
School: The people of St Louis were told that the Army was testing smoke screens to protect cities from a Russian attack. A canister is positioned on top of a school in this photo
‘There is a lot of evidence that shows people in St. Louis and the city, in particular minority communities, were subjected to military testing that was connected to a larger radiological weapons testing project.’
Previous investigations of the compound were rebuffed by the military, which insisted it was safe.
However, Professor Martino-Taylor believes the documents she’s uncovered, prove the zinc cadmium silfide was also mixed with radioactive particles.
She has linked the St Louis testing to a now-defunct company called US Radium. The controversial company came under fire, and numerous lawsuits, after several of its workers were exposed to dangerous levels of radioactive materials in its fluorescent paint.
Exposed: In her research, she found that the greatest concentration of spraying in St Louis was at the Pruit-Igoe public housing complex, which was home to 10,000 low income residents. She said that 70 per cent of those residents were children under the age of 12
‘US Radium had this reputation where they had been found legally liable for producing a radioactive powdered paint that killed many young women who painted fluorescent watch tiles,’ said Professor Martino-Taylor.
In her findings, one of the compounds that was sprayed upon the public was called ‘FP2266’, according to the army’s documents, and was manufactured by US Radium. The compound, also known as Radium 226, was the same one that killed and sickened many of the US Radium workers.
The Army has admitted that it added a fluorescent substance to the ‘harmless’ compound, but whether or not the additive was radioactive remains classified.
Professor Martino-Taylor has not been able to find if the Army ever followed up on the long term health of the residents exposed to the compound. In 1972, the government destroyed the Pruitt-Igoe houses.
Upon learning of the professor’s findings, Missouri lawmakers called on the Army to detail the tests.
‘I share and understand the renewed anxiety of members of the St. Louis communities that were exposed to the spraying of (the chemicals) as part of Army tests during the Cold War,’ Senator Claire McCaskill wrote to Army Secretary John McHugh.
‘The impacted communities were not informed of the tests at the time and are reasonably anxious about the long term health impacts the tests may have had on those exposed to the airborne chemicals.’
Senator Roy Blunt called the findings ‘absolutely shocking.’
‘The idea that thousands of Missourians were unwillingly exposed to harmful materials in order to determine their health effects is absolutely shocking. It should come as no surprise that these individuals and their families are demanding answers of government officials,’ Senator Blunt said.
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