A sociologist at St. Louis College has claimed the United States’ military conducted secret experiments on the people of St. Louis, Missouri, and other cities during the 1950s and 60s. The researcher maintains the experiments involved exposing residents to radioactive particles.
Professor Lisa Martino-Taylor carried out an in-depth study accruing details of the spraying experiments that the military conducted in the area. It was widely known that the government was spraying zinc cadmium sulfide components over citizens of St. Louis which were generally regarded as being “harmless”. The researcher claims that a radioactive addictive was added to the mix.
“The study was secretive for reason,” Professor Martino-Taylor told KSDK.com. “They didn’t have volunteers stepping up and saying yeah, I’ll breathe zinc calcium sulfide with radioactive particles,” (1)
Army archive pictures reveal how the tests were carried out in Corpus Christi, Texas in the 1960s. In Texas, planes were used to drop the chemical, but in St. Louis chemical sprayers were placed on public buildings such as schools and wagons.
According to a report in the Daily Mail, the people of St. Louis were told that the military was testing smoke screens to protect the city from attack from Russia. Local politicians were not informed of the true content of the testing.
“It was pretty shocking. The level of duplicity and secrecy. Clearly they went to great lengths to deceive people,” said Professor Martino-Taylor. (2)
Radioactive St. Louis
The controversial allegations were released in a dissertation the sociologist compiled. The document, titled “The Manhattan-Rochester Coalition, Research on the Health Effects of Radioactive Materials and Tests on Vulnerable Populations without Consent in St. Louis, 1945 – 1970”, was presented to the University of Missouri-Columbia in December 2011.
In the dissertation, the professor likens the military actions to a:
“Convert Manhattan Project spin-off organization. The Manhattan Project was a US-led research and development project that produced the first atomic bombs during World War II. In the document’s abstract, Martino-Taylor says the military-sponsored studies targeted segregated, high-density urban areas, where ‘low-income persons of color predominantly resided’. In the report the sociologist makes connections to a much larger military project that “Secretly tested humans, both alive and deceased, in an effort to understand the effects of weaponized radiation.” (3)
Professor Martino-Taylor is said to have become interested in the subject after hearing reports of cancers amongst residents in the area during the 50s and 60s. In her report, the professor talks about when she worked as a researcher in St. Louis she learned about a woman who had opened up about her recent diagnosis of breast cancer. The woman had grown up in a neighborhood and a school which she referred to as having been “sprayed by the military”. (3)
Unraveling the Truth
Disturbed by the story, Martino-Taylor was determined to unravel the truth. In her research, the professor accumulated hundreds of unclassified reports which she says prove that the zinc cadmium sulfide was mixed with radioactive chemicals.
The greatest concentration of the alleged radioactive spraying was centered on the Pruitt-Igoe housing complex in the northwest of downtown St. Louis. Pruitt-Igoe was home to more than 10,000 people of low incomes, with an estimated 70% being children under the age of 12. The housing complex was destroyed in 1972 due to years of crime, poverty and decline.
Martino-Taylor has associated the controversial testing to US Radium, a company which produced uranium from carnotite ore and then went on to manufacture radioluminescent paint. The now defunct company was the subject of major contamination of its workers, predominantly women who painted items with luminous paint. (4)
After a number of lawsuits made against the New Jersey-based company, stronger worker protection laws were implemented in America. Part of the sociologist’s findings included an army document which revealed that one of the compounds sprayed in St. Louis was manufactured by US Radium. The Radium 226 compound was, according to Professor Martino-Taylor, the same one that caused illness and death to many US Radium workers. (2)
According to the KSDK report, the US army admitted it added a florescent substance to the zinc cadmium compound. The military has, however, always insisted that the chemical compound sprayed on St. Louis during the Cold War was safe.
Documents revealed in the professor’s study indicate the military never conducted follow-up research to see whether the compound had caused any long-term health issues. Details of whether the substance was radioactive remain secret.
Following the publishing of Professor Martino-Taylor’s report, officials in Missouri have called upon the military to provide details of the testing during the Cold War.
“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 Claire McCaskill wrote to Army Secretary John McHugh.
Missouri Senator Roy Blunt referred to the findings as “absolutely shocking”.
“The idea that thousands of Missourians were unwillingly exposed to harmful materials in order to determine their health effects is absolutely shocking,” Senator Blunt told reporters. (2)
Fact Vs. Fiction
Alleged evidence that people were being used as test subjects without their consent and that the testing may be resulting in health ailments such as cancer is naturally going to spark controversy. We cannot, however, ignore that Professor Martino-Taylor’s research has come under criticism, namely for her lack of a scientific background.
Elizabeth Algutifan, Senior Health Physicist at MJW Corporation, encourages readers to bear in mind that the professor’s research was done for a PhD in sociology and not a scientific field.
“She tries very hard to build a case against the government using words like ‘sinister’, ‘breathtaking’ and ‘dark’, but the actual reported scientific facts in her research are actually few and far between, and mostly she interjects lots of emotion to try and sway readers to her viewpoint,” the health physicist writes on the KSDK website. (1)
Despite criticism of her study, we also cannot ignore that residents of St. Louis and its vicinity during the 50s and 60s have fallen victims to cancer. Not only have residents become ill but the military has admitted to adding a florescent substance to the zinc cadmium compound in spraying experiments at the time. The possibility that the two are intrinsically linked simply can’t be overlooked.
References & Image Credits:
(2) The Daily Mail
(3) UMI ProQuest Dissertations and Theses
(4) Oak Ridge Associated Universities
(5) Zixi Wu via Compfight cc
(6) Charles Stirton via photopin cc
(7) CBS St. Louis