Previously classified documents reveal new details about how and where the US Army sprayed chemical agents over thousands of unwitting residents of St. Louis, Missouri during the 1950s and 60s as part of a series of Cold War experiments.
KSDK reports that the Army sprayed zinc cadmium sulfide over parts of St. Louis, especially over the Pruitt-Ingo housing project northwest of downtown, where 10,000 low-income people, mostly minorities, lived. Around 70 percent of the project’s residents were children under the age of 12.
The spraying was meant to simulate the airborne dispersal of biological warfare agents. Residents were not told that they were being sprayed with zinc cadmium sulfide.
“This was a violation of all medical ethics, all international codes and the military’s own policy at that time,” Lisa Martino-Taylor, a sociologist who has extensively studied secret military experiments from the Cold War era, told KSDK. Martino-Taylor filed hundreds of Freedom of Information Act requests to obtain documents that proved the military used unwitting Americans as human guinea pigs.
“There is a lot of evidence that shows people in St. Louis,… in particular minority communities, were subjected to military testing that was connected to a larger radiological weapons testing program,” Martino-Taylor said.
Chief among these was Project MK-ULTRA, a CIA-run 20-year covert program in which radiation, torture, sensory deprivation, hypnosis and drugs such as LSD– often administered to unwitting test subjects– were utilized in an ultimately futile attempt at mind control. There were thousands of victims of this immoral, unethical and illegal research.
MK-ULTRA ended by the mid-1970s. President Bill Clinton apologized to victims in 1995.
Zinc cadmium sulfide spraying was by no means limited to St. Louis. The National Academy of Sciences counts some 33 urban and rural areas in which populations were deliberately exposed.
In 1994, the New York Times reported that zinc cadmium sulfide was sprayed over an elementary school in Minneapolis, where former students later reported an unusually high number of stillbirths and birth defects.
But the National Academy of Sciences concluded that zinc cadmium sulfide exposure did not pose a threat to human health, although more toxicity studies should be conducted.
Zinc cadmium sulfide was but one of many toxic substances to which unwitting troops and civilians were exposed during Cold War chemical and biological weapons experiments. During Project SHAD, the crews of more than a dozen Navy warships were exposed to sarin (the nerve gas that killed 12 people in the 1995 Tokyo subway gas attack), VX nerve gas (which the Pentagon calls “one of the most toxic substances ever synthesized) and serratia marcescnes, which can cause serious infections including pneumonia.
The Army also released a massive cloud of Serratia marcescnes over the San Francisco Bay Area in 1950, resulting in an outbreak of illnesses in which one person died.