The U.S. Army deliberately released clouds of toxic gas in 33 American and Canadian cities during biological warfare tests during the 1950s and ’60s. The tests involved the spraying of a chemical called zinc cadmium sulfide from planes, vehicles, and rooftops according to the National Academy of Sciences.
The scientists involved used cadmium sulfide because it is similar in size to germs. They were testing to see what would happen if an enemy released clouds of germs in the air over a city. Cadmium sulfide is a potentially dangerous chemical; it is so toxic that the Allies considered using it as a chemical weapon during World War II. Large doses of cadmium are known to cause lung cancer and to damage the liver, kidneys, and bones.
The tests took place over several years in some very large cities, including Winnipeg, Corpus Christi, Minneapolis, St. Louis, and Fort Wayne, Indiana. A team of researchers from the National Research Council concluded that the amount of cadmium used was not high enough to cause cancer.
Knowledge Is Limited
The problem is that the council didn’t evaluate the tests until the 1990s, 30 years after they were over. Therefore it is impossible to know if they had accurate accounts of the amount of chemicals used in the experiments. Part of the problem was that the Army’s germ warfare program was shut down in the early 1970s, several years after the experiments.
Knowledge about how zinc cadmium sulfide can affect the human body is very limited. Research on the substance’s effects is limited, so it is entirely possible there could be unknown effects from the tests.
This means that the U.S. Army deliberately released clouds of a toxic substance with unknown effects into the air of major American and Canadian cities. There might have been more extensive testing that we are not aware of.
Similar Tests in Britain
The British government conducted even more extensive tests in the 1950s and ’60s by spraying zinc cadmium sulfide over large swaths of the English countryside. Over a million people were exposed to the substance according to information uncovered by The Guardian.
Therefore it would seem logical that there were other large-scale tests of this technique in the United States. It is also entirely possible that the U.S. Army sprayed potentially toxic bacteria into the air in other tests.
The British government also conducted tests with the deadly biological weapon anthrax on ships in the Caribbean and off the coast of Scotland during the 1950s. Those tests might have involved other deadly germs, and there is a strong possibility that U.S. military personnel took part in them. Americans did participate in at least one secret test in Britain during the 1970s.
The Guardian noted that U.S. and British scientists sprayed bacteria into the air during tests in the English countryside in the early 1970s. In a similar test, scientists released bacteria into the London Underground to see how far it would spread. There may have been similar tests in American cities such as New York and Chicago.
What Was the Effect?
The lack of details about these tests and the substances used means that it is impossible to ascertain how people in the area might have been affected. The long-term effects of such testing have not been well researched either, although some people believe there were harmful effects.
David Orman, a British Army officer, told the press that he thinks that high rates of birth defects in the English village of East Luluworth were caused by the tests. He noted that many of the germ warfare trials were carried out near the village. Orman’s wife was born and raised in the village, and she gave birth to a child with cerebral palsy. Orman noted that each of his wife’s sisters had babies with birth defects.
There haven’t been any reports of birth defects in the United States and Canada caused by these tests. Since the tests were highly classified and much of the information about them is still secret, it might be hard to tell. Another problem is that the exact details of the experiments might have been lost or deliberately destroyed at some point.
Still Going On?
The U.S. stopped developing and testing biological weapons in the 1970s, but it is possible there might be other questionable testing that is still going on. The U.S., British, and Canadian governments all have a long history of using their citizens as guinea pigs in questionable experiments.
So it is entirely possible that tests of some sort are going on. This sad chapter from our history shows us why we should not trust government and always question its actions. Those operating in the name of the common good are capable of any violation of individual freedoms or basic human rights if they think it will help somebody.
We need to understand our history in order to protect ourselves from future abuses of government power. Those who don’t remember history will be doomed to repeat it and suffer for it.