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Wed Oct 3, 2012, 07:09 PM

Secret Cold War tests in St. Louis raise concerns (radioactive particles with the zinc cadmium)

Source: AP-Excite

By JIM SALTER

ST. LOUIS (AP) - 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.

FULL story at link.


Read more: http://apnews.excite.com/article/20121003/DA1MBJK82.html




This undated photo provided by the subject shows St. Louis sociology professor Lisa Martino-Taylor. Martino-Taylor performed a study raising new concerns about secret Army testing during the Cold War that sprayed a potentially hazardous chemical into the air in St. Louis. The tests targeted predominantly black areas of the city. Now, some residents are left to wonder if those tests led to health problems for them and for relatives. (AP Photo/Courtesy Lisa Martino-Taylor)

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Reply Secret Cold War tests in St. Louis raise concerns (radioactive particles with the zinc cadmium) (Original post)
Omaha Steve Oct 2012 OP
wendylaroux Oct 2012 #1
Bernardo de La Paz Oct 2012 #2
Hubert Flottz Oct 2012 #3
caseymoz Oct 2012 #4
Mnemosyne Oct 2012 #5
Sherman A1 Oct 2012 #6
Omaha Steve Oct 2012 #7
caraher Oct 2012 #8

Response to Omaha Steve (Original post)

Wed Oct 3, 2012, 07:35 PM

1. Disposable people I guess

This happened about 90 miles from where I live. Some things are so horrible it makes my mind go numb.Jesus.

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Response to Omaha Steve (Original post)

Wed Oct 3, 2012, 07:49 PM

2. Kicking since this deserves to be more widely known. nt

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Response to Omaha Steve (Original post)

Wed Oct 3, 2012, 08:01 PM

3. K&R

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Response to Omaha Steve (Original post)

Wed Oct 3, 2012, 08:03 PM

4. Zinc cadmium sulfide isn't radioactive.

They used it because it's luminescent. The story, if you want to call it that, is that there is no proof the army used radioactive isotope with this, but this sociology professor, Lisa Martino-Taylor is suspicious that they did.

Truth be told, so am I, but this is a real zero of a story, saying essentially, "we still have no proof."

Pruitt-Igoe wasn't the best constructed place. I'm betting it was more loaded with asbestos than the 9/11 Twin Towers, not to mention lead paint.

As for the tragic incidents of cancer in her family, I live in St. Louis. Zinc cadmium sulfide is probably near the bottom of dangerous chemicals polluting the air of the city then. My father lived in central St. Louis, and used to play baseball-- and I'm not joking-- on a toxic waste dump (they called them cinder lots then). They also used to chew the tar that they surfaced the street with. People didn't know anything about toxins, then. They probably thought, very rationally, why would anybody put something on the streets that would poison children?

BTW, my Mom also lived in that neighborhood, but years before the time given. My brother has very severe birth defects brought on by damage to the 15th maternal chromosome, taken together with an epigenetic malfunction. In other words, a defective ovum cell. About a one in eighty-million chance of this sort of damage. She wasn't in that neighborhood, but was exposed to every toxin St. Louis industry could throw at her.

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Response to Omaha Steve (Original post)

Wed Oct 3, 2012, 08:08 PM

5. How many more experiments like this that we will never learn happened? Heinous. nt

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Response to Sherman A1 (Reply #6)

Wed Oct 3, 2012, 10:10 PM

7. Thank you


From the link: What is unclear is whether the Army added a radioactive material to the compound as Martino-Taylor's research implies.

IMPLIES is a well chosen word.


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Response to Omaha Steve (Original post)

Thu Oct 4, 2012, 12:36 AM

8. You can read her dissertation on this for free

It's open access on ProQuest

The evidence is pretty much circumstantial, and given the number of other studies involving deliberate exposures of humans to radioactive materials that were brought to light in 1994 it's hard to understand why this wouldn't have come out of the same investigation. It's not even clear what isotopes Martino-Taylor is suggesting may have been used; at one point she suggests radium, then later remarks that zinc and cadmium each have several radioactive isotopes (which is less informative than you may think; so do most elements, and she only points to one zinc isotope as one known to be available in reasonable quantities).

This is a sociology dissertation, and really figuring out whether anything radioactive was part of this research clearly takes a back seat to discussions of power relationships, Cold War machinations, experimentation without consent, etc. It's certainly true that the cover story used at the time about creating "smoke screens" to protect against nuclear attack was a lie. I'm inclined to take at face value the words of a declassified report in one of her appendices: that

The fluorescent tracer studies described here are part of a continuing program designed to provide the field experimental data necessary to estimate munitions requirements for the strategic use of chemical and biological agents against typical target cities. (p. 395 of the .pdf of the dissertation, p. 118 of the declassified report)


Reading that report I see no reason to believe that they used radioactive materials. The project involved a fairly large number of workers, with not even the slightest precautions taken for radiation safety. I'd imagine the researchers, at least, would seek to protect themselves! More importantly, had they actually used radioactive tracers the analysis would have been much simpler. Rather than hiring a small corps of technicians to conduct painstaking examinations of samples under microscopes (p. 333 dissertation/p. 58 report), they could count radioactive decays for far less expense.

The report does prove that the US was interested in developing chemical and biological weapons for offensive use against civilian populations. And these were conducted with little meaningful informed consent of the populace (though years before "informed consent" became one of the guiding benchmarks for research involving human subjects). That in itself is damning enough. But for this goal there would be no reason to use radioactive tracers in the diffusion studies.

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