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Bio-Terror Agents

    St. Louis (1953)


    Title: Researcher To Discuss Military Testing In St. Louis In The 1950s
    Date: September 23, 2012
    Source: St. Louis Today

    Abstract:  At 11:05 on a February night in 1953, a worker employed by the U.S. Army opened a valve on a motorized blower and for five minutes dispersed a mysterious fluffy powder into downtown St. Louis.

    So began military-sponsored tests in St. Louis that remained secret for four decades and, to this day, raise questions about what the government was up to in the Cold War operation.

    No private citizen has explored these questions more fully than Lisa Martino-Taylor, who reached troubling conclusions while completing a doctoral thesis last year at the University of Missouri-Columbia.

    Martino-Taylor, a sociology professor at St. Louis Community College, is writing a book on the covert operation and on Tuesday afternoon will present her findings locally for the first time at a colloquium at St. Louis Community College at Meramec.

    St. Louis was among several cities where the aerosol testing took place in the 1950s and 1960s with zinc cadmium sulfide, a chemical powder mixed with fluorescent particles so that dispersal patterns could be traced.

    After the project became known in Congress in 1994, the Post-Dispatch was among newspapers that combed through newly released documents for details. The documents showed that in 1953 alone, the military conducted 16 tests involving 35 separate releases of zinc cadmium sulfide in St. Louis, many in an area described at the time as "a densely populated slum district."

    St. Louisans were told that the government was testing a 'smoke screen" that might protect the city from aerial observation during enemy attack.

    If that sounds far-fetched, it was: The Army conceded later that the tests were part of a biological weapons program and that St. Louis was chosen because it roughly matched the population and terrain of Russian cities that the United States might attack.

    In 1997, the National Research Council — an arm of the National Academy of Sciences — minimized the health impacts of the chemical tests but concluded that more analysis was needed. The team of scientists did not consider ethical questions but observed that people were "outraged" at being subjected to chemical testing without their consent.

    Martino-Taylor was a skilled researcher before working toward her doctorate, investigating cases of contamination for a St. Louis law firm. The facts she assembled on the military project and conclusions she reached go well beyond anything published earlier.

    Relying heavily on documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, Martino-Taylor identifies connections between participants in the St. Louis testing and scientists who took part in wartime efforts to build the atomic bomb.

    Noting postwar efforts to test radioactive materials on Americans, she raises suspicions that the St. Louis testing involved not just materials called harmless by the Army but possibly radioactive isotopes.

    Martino-Taylor found in her research that the aerosol particles were milled so as to be easily absorbed into lungs.

    She wrote in her thesis: "Under the sparkling stars and clear bright moon, as children, their parents, and grandparents, slept on their porches or beneath an open window to escape the blazing heat of a St. Louis summer, toxins drifted silently inside through open windows and settled into their lungs. The particulates were designed to be optimal size for deep inhalation by the sleeping, unsuspecting victims. It was the Cold War, and this was America."

    In an interview, Martino-Taylor acknowledged that she had uncovered no proof that St. Louisans were subject to radiological testing. But, she noted, "There's an awful lot of evidence that there were radiological components to the study."

    Martino-Taylor approaches the testing from a sociological standpoint, noting that national and international codes of conduct prohibited testing on humans without their consent.

    "There has to be a sense of betrayal here, of people being deceived and targeted by their own government," she said.

    "Even if there are laws in place which appear to protect people, without transparency, governments may be able to violate rights without their victims even knowing it. This case is an example of that" (St. Louis Today, 2012).

    Title: The Army's Secret Cold War Experiments On St. Louisans
    Date: September 25, 2012
    Source: KSDK News


    Abstract: Lisa Martino-Taylor is a sociologist whose life's work has been to uncover details of the Army's ultra-secret military experiments carried out in St. Louis and other cities during the 1950s and 60s. 

    She will make her research public Tuesday, but she spoke first to the I-Team's Leisa Zigman. 

    The I-Team independently verified that the spraying of zinc cadmium sulfide did take place in St. Louis on thousands of unsuspecting citizens. What is unclear is whether the Army added a radioactive material to the compound as Martino-Taylor's research implies. 

    "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 Martino-Taylor. 

    Army archive pictures show how the tests were done in Corpus Christi, Texas in the 1960s. In Texas, planes were used to drop the chemical. But in St. Louis, the Army placed chemical sprayers on buildings and station wagons. 

    Documents confirmed that city officials were kept in the dark about the tests. The Cold War cover story was that the Army was testing smoke screens to protect cities from a Russian attack. The truth, according to Martino-Taylor was much more sinister. 

    "It was pretty shocking. The level of duplicity and secrecy. Clearly they went to great lengths to deceive people," she said. 

    By making hundreds of Freedom of Information Act requests, she uncovered once-classified documents that confirm the spraying of zinc cadmium sulfide. 

    Martino-Taylor says the greatest concentration was centered on the Pruitt-Igoe housing complex, just northwest of downtown St. Louis in the Carr Square neighborhood. It was home to 10,000 low income people. An estimated 70 percent she says were children under the age of 12. 

    "This was a violation of all medical ethics, all international codes, and the military's own policy at that time," said Martino-Taylor. 

    In 1994, then-Congressman Richard Gephardt (D-St. Louis), asked the Army to open its records and explain the St. Louis testing. 

    At the time Rep. Gephardt said, "We want to make sure nothing went on that would harm anyone, and that all the fact are out on the table." 

    Documents released in the 90s showed the Army placed sprayers on a former Knights of Columbus building on Lindell and in Forest Park. The Army always insisted the chemical compound was safe. Martino-Taylor believes documents prove otherwise. 

    "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," she said. 

    For the first time, she links the St. Louis testing to a company called US Radium, a company notorious for lawsuits involving radioactive contamination of its workers. 

    "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 Martino-Taylor. 

    While the Army admits it added a florescent substance to the zinc cadmium compound, details of whether it was radioactive remains secret. 

    Documents uncovered to date indicate the Army never conducted follow-up studies to see whether the compound caused long term health issues. 

    In 1972, after years of crime, poverty, and decline, the government destroyed the Pruitt -Igoe housing complex (KSDK News, 2012).

    Title: Army's Secret Chemical Testing In St. Louis Neighborhoods During Cold War Raising New Concerns
    Date: October 3, 2012
    Source:
    Fox News

    Abstract: Doris Spates was a baby when her father died inexplicably in 1955. She has watched four siblings die of cancer, and she survived cervical cancer.

    After learning that the Army conducted secret chemical testing in her impoverished St. Louis neighborhood at the height of the Cold War, she wonders if her own government is to blame.

    In the mid-1950s, and again a decade later, the Army used motorized blowers atop a low-income housing high-rise, at schools and from the backs of station wagons to send a potentially dangerous compound into the already-hazy air in predominantly black areas of St. Louis.

    Local officials were told at the time that the government was testing a smoke screen that could shield St. Louis from aerial observation in case the Russians attacked.

    But in 1994, the government said the tests were part of a biological weapons program and St. Louis was chosen because it bore some resemblance to Russian cities that the U.S. might attack. The material being sprayed was zinc cadmium sulfide, a fine fluorescent powder.

    Now, new research is raising greater concern about the implications of those tests. St. Louis Community College-Meramec sociology professor Lisa Martino-Taylor's research has raised the possibility that the Army performed radiation testing by mixing radioactive particles with the zinc cadmium sulfide, though she concedes there is no direct proof.

    But her report, released late last month, was troubling enough that both U.S. senators from Missouri wrote to Army Secretary John McHugh demanding answers.

    Aides to Sens. Claire McCaskill and Roy Blunt said they have received no response. Army spokesman Dave Foster declined an interview request from The Associated Press, saying the Army would first respond to the senators.

    The area of the secret testing is described by the Army in documents obtained by Martino-Taylor through a Freedom of Information Act request as "a densely populated slum district." About three-quarters of the residents were black.

    Spates, now 57 and retired, was born in 1955, delivered inside her family's apartment on the top floor of the since-demolished Pruitt-Igoe housing development in north St. Louis. Her family didn't know that on the roof, the Army was intentionally spewing hundreds of pounds of zinc cadmium sulfide into the air.

    Three months after her birth, her father died. Four of her 11 siblings succumbed to cancer at relatively young ages.

    "I'm wondering if it got into our system," Spates said. "When I heard about the testing, I thought, 'Oh my God. If they did that, there's no telling what else they're hiding.'"

    Mary Helen Brindell wonders, too. Now 68, her family lived in a working-class mixed-race neighborhood where spraying occurred.

    The Army has admitted only to using blowers to spread the chemical, but Brindell recalled a summer day playing baseball with other kids in the street when a squadron of green Army planes flew close to the ground and dropped a powdery substance. She went inside, washed it off her face and arms, then went back out to play.

    Over the years, Brindell has battled four types of cancer — breast, thyroid, skin and uterine.

    "I feel betrayed," said Brindell, who is white. "How could they do this? We pointed our fingers during the Holocaust, and we do something like this?"

    Martino-Taylor said she wasn't aware of any lawsuits filed by anyone affected by the military tests. She also said there have been no payouts "or even an apology" from the government to those affected.

    The secret testing in St. Louis was exposed to Congress in 1994, prompting a demand for a health study. A committee of the National Research Council determined in 1997 that the testing did not expose residents to harmful levels of the chemical. But the committee said research was sparse and the finding relied on limited data from animal testing.

    It also noted that high doses of cadmium over long periods of exposure could cause bone and kidney problems and lung cancer. The committee recommended that the Army conduct follow-up studies "to determine whether inhaled zinc cadmium sulfide breaks down into toxic cadmium compounds, which can be absorbed into the blood to produce toxicity in the lungs and other organs."

    But it isn't clear if follow-up studies were ever performed. Martino-Taylor said she has gotten no answer from the Army and her research has turned up no additional studies. Foster, the Army spokesman, declined comment.

    Martino-Taylor became involved years ago when a colleague who grew up in the targeted area wondered if the testing was the cause of her cancer. That same day, a second colleague confided to Martino-Taylor that she, too, lived in the test area and had cancer.

    Martino-Taylor decided to research the testing for her doctoral thesis at the University of Missouri. She believes the St. Louis study was linked to the Manhattan Atomic Bomb Project and a small group of scientists from that project who were developing radiological weapons. A congressional study in 1993 confirmed radiological testing in Tennessee and parts of the West during the Cold War.

    "There are strong lines of evidence that there was a radiological component to the St. Louis study," Martino-Taylor said.

    Blunt, in his letter to the Army secretary, questioned whether radioactive testing was performed.

    "The idea that thousands of Missourians were unwillingly exposed to harmful materials in order to determine their health effects is absolutely shocking," the senator wrote.

    McCaskill agreed. "Given the nature of these experiments, it's not surprising that Missouri citizens still have questions and concerns about what exactly occurred and if there may have been any negative health effects," she said in a statement.

    Martino-Taylor said a follow-up health study should be performed in St. Louis, but it must involve direct input from people who lived in the targeted areas.

    "Their voices have not been heard," Martino-Taylor said (Fox News, 2012).