Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Focus on Military Testing Here in 1950s; Sociology Professor Reaches Troubling Conclusions about Types of Chemicals Released

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Focus on Military Testing Here in 1950s; Sociology Professor Reaches Troubling Conclusions about Types of Chemicals Released

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON - At 11:05 on a February night in 1953, a worker employed by the 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. …

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