Breaking News: Secret US military testing of radiological materials on poor and minority communities

In a story that is breaking right now, Dr. Lisa Martino-Taylor, a sociologist in St. Louis. MO (US), has introduced evidence that “secret military tests conducted during the Cold War targeted poor and minority communities for exposure to what is likely radiological material.”

In an article yesterday, commenting on Dr. Martino-Taylor’s research, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch said:  “Relying heavily on documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, Martino-Taylor identifies connections between participants in St. Louis testing and scientists who took part in wartime efforts to build the atomic bomb.”

GJEP’s Board Chair Orin Langelle and  Executive Director, Anne Petermann interviewed Dr. Martino-Taylor while they were in St. Louis, last week.

–The GJEP Team

By Orin Langelle and Anne Petermann

During an interview we conducted last week in St. Louis, MO, Dr. Lisa Martino-Taylor gave us a long description of research she had conducted into a major military cover up of the use of U.S. citizens as test subjects for military experiments related to the Cold War.

Dr. Martino-Taylor told us that specifically, her research identifies a coalition of medical researchers that grew out of the Manhattan Project, which she refers to as the Manhattan-Rochester Coalition.  This coalition conducted various secret radiological tests around the nation.  The group was involved in previously known “injection” and “ingestion” human-subject studies that exposed unwitting victims to radioactive material such as plutonium and strontium-90.  Dr. Martino-Taylor’s research demonstrates that St. Louis open-air dispersion studies carried out in the 1950s and 1960s are likely the realization of this group’s intention to conduct an inhalation study of radiological material in an urban area.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch further said Sunday:  “Martino-Taylor was a skilled researcher before working toward her doctorate, investigating cases for a St. Louis law firm.  The facts she assembled on the military project and conclusions she reached go well beyond anything published earlier.”

Dr. Martino-Taylor told us, “ This new research also reveals that a powdered substance used in the St. Louis tests sometimes identified in military documents, was in part, produced by U.S. Radium.  U.S. Radium is the company infamous for exposure of workers to fatal doses of radioactivity resulting from the use of radioactive zinc sulfide powdered paint.  Many of these workers died from systemic illnesses caused by inhalation of radium dust at U.S. Radium.”

Moreover, there is evidence that the material that was sprayed in St. Louis contained particles of such a size as to result in maximum absorption deep into the lungs.

During the tests, St. Louis residents were told by officials and through media reports that the government was testing a “smoke screen” that might protect the city from aerial observation during attack.  Documents show that the St. Louis tests targeted what was characterized by officials as “a densely populated slum district.”  Census data further shows that areas targeted for spraying included a high percentage of young children, poor, and minority residents.  Areas of the tests included the Desoto-Carr area and the famous Pruitt-Igoe Housing Project, a dense series of high-rise buildings comprised of a majority black population where 70% children were under the age of twelve.

Additional evidence also strongly suggests radiological components to the tests that the Army conducted in St. Louis.

KMOX (CBS) radio reported this morning:  Martino-Taylor says some of the key players in the cover-up were also members of the Manhattan Atomic Bomb Project and involved in other radiological testing across the United States at the time. “This was against all military guidelines of the day, against all ethical guidelines, against all international codes such as the Nuremberg Code.”

Dr. Lisa Martino-Taylor first publicly presented her findings at the International Sociological Association Forum of Sociology Social Justice and Democratization in Buenos Aires, Argentina.  The Forum ran from August 1-4, 2012.

She will be presenting this research for the first time in the U.S. Tuesday, September 25th at a colloquium at St. Louis Community College in St. Louis, MO.

For access to Dr. Martino-Taylor’s doctorate dissertation:

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0 Responses to Breaking News: Secret US military testing of radiological materials on poor and minority communities

  1. Craig Rhodes

    This is old news. It was all meticulously documented in the 1999 book, “The Plutonium Files” by Eileen Welsome, subtitled “America’s Secret Medical Experiments in the Cold War”. When Pres. Clinton’s Sec of Energy, Hazel O’Leary, declassified the incriminating documents there were Congressional hearings that resulted in citizen oversight of the nation’s nuclear facilities through Site Specific Advisory Boards (SSAB). I was on one of those boards. When Bush became President after Clinton’s tenure, he proceeded to neuter and make irrelevant the SSAB’s.

    • The NEW part of this news is that it was also being done through aeresols sprayed for inhalation experiments into poor, minority communities.

      • Craig Rhodes

        According to chapter 26 of “The Plutonium Files”, one of the first disputes to arise between civilian and military planners at the Nevada Test Site was the harmful effects of inhalation of radionuclides of 1 to 2 microns in diameter. However, they proceeded with the bomb tests anyway and determined to test subjects downwind afterwards. While I think it reprehensible that poor minority communities were specifically targeted, it is worth noting that such experiments were going on nationwide as well from the very beginning.

        BTW they were also doing these experiments on down’s syndrome children as well. Some of the survivors testified before Congress during the hearings.

  2. Hi Craig–I forwarded your comment to Dr. Martino-Taylor and here is her reply:

    Some of this was in the public domain, thanks to work by some good folks on various panels and investigatory bodies, and journalists. No one had linked the spray events in St. Louis to the larger Manhattan Project (or even investigated those events in St. Louis). No one has documented that the targeted population was people of color, and I compiled that data in this report.


    Anne Petermann

    • Craig Rhodes

      Kudos to Dr. Martino-Taylor for helping to bring this tragedy to light both nationally and specifically in the St. Louis area. We need more investigators like her. However, regarding targeted populations, I’m curious if she had read or was aware of “The Plutonium Files”?

      • The fact that ingestion and injection studies is known. The fact that inhalation studies using radiological material in St. Louis, in what was identified as a “densly populated slum area” is not. Further the targeting of the famous Pruitt-Igoe housing project is also a shocking piece of new information.

  3. Its nice Dr. Martin-Taylor has made an effort to begin to mention some of this covert experimentation. What is even more amazing is the media’s reaction to this as if it is a NEW revelation. Those of us who have done due diligence on this before and have not been allowed access to major media outlets know full well she is barely scraping the tip of the iceberg. Personally, I have a copy of several congressional hearings where the spraying is mentioned an other much more insidious experiments on unwitting volunteers is also documented. During my research, I have interviewed a few of those who actually survived. There weren’t many. Yet such a story will never fully be allowed to surface in the lamestream press. Sorry Dr. Martin-Taylor if you continue your course you will end up hitting some major brick walls. The experiments have not only continued but broadened in scope and size. Watch the skies sometime, you’ll see it happening right above your head. The best kept secrets are those hid right in front of you.

    • Steve

      If you access Dr. Martino-Taylor’s 900-page dissertation, which you can do with a link on this site, you can see that what you are mentioning is covered to contextualize the new findings of the spraying of radiological material in a densely populated area. This new information is unique. It is the first time the St. Louis open-air studies are identified as radiological rather than bio-chem tracer studies. Further it identifies US Radium, a company famous for the deaths of radioactively poisoned workers, for producing the powder sprayed on the people of St. Louis. Literally tons of this material milled for deep lung inhalation was sprayed in what the Army identified as a “slum district” that was targeted in part because it resembled Stalingrad. This is all new, and there is more. It is not fair to characterize the extent of this research on the grounds of a few reports.

  4. Steve

    Further, the revelation that a famous housing project, Pruitt-Igoe with a very high population of young, poor minorities was targeted. How does this influence our view of the history of that famous project?

  5. Earful

    I just read the dissertation (written in first person, BTW), and her imagination is the only thing linking a well known method of studying urban aerosol dispersal and radiation. There is no factual basis to her assertion radioactive dispersal occurred in St. Louis because the army bought zinc cadmium sulfide from a specialized manufacturer of the substance, the product label was FP-2266, or the fact US Radium also produced radioluminescent paints when ZnCdS is blended with radium. How she defended, even as a sociologist, is beyond me.

    • Steve

      The facts you mentioned and the context of the cold-war radiological studies and the lingering classification of what was sprayed is very troubling. I suspect that sociologically, the secrecy, false news stories surrounding the tests, the targeted populations, the layers of clearance involved in the tests also play a large role.

    • Earful–Your comments are interesting, but who are you? Are you a scientist? Are you a sociologist? With the military? The government? Dr. Martino-Taylor, who wrote the dissertation, that you supposedly read, uses her name. How can anyone take your critique seriously without knowing who you are?

      –Orin Langellle, for the GJEP Team

      • Earful

        She presented, not me. Her work is record, not my name. But for fun, I’m in the hard sciences with significant radioactive element knowledge and some government lab experience. Not so much health physics, but I do know radium would be a horrible tracer and knowledge of its hazards were already well established. Radium dust, for the life of it, doesn’t register to lightweight radiological survey meters. The metal radiates the wrong kind of radiation and turns into the gas radon and blows away. But if the radon is trapped when radium decays, like in the paint of radioluminescent dials, Geiger counters scream just feet away.

  6. Mary Ann McGivern

    Does the study give the dates of this spraying? the St. Louis baby teeth study published a paper in 1961 linking airborn strontium 90 from atomic above-ground tests with strontium 90 in baby teeth. The Pruitt-Igoe Housing Project opened in 1956. If the spraying occurred after 1961, and if it indeed was radioactive, this is a sin crying to God for vengeance. Additionally, the Mallinkrodt plant on 2nd and Destrahan in north St. Louis that processed uranium for the first bombs was closed in 1956. The buildings were sealed. In the ’80s trails of nuclear waste were discovered that dated back to the movement of the enrichment plant from the city to route 94 in the count. Some of this waste has been cleaned up, but not all of it.

  7. I had no idea about any of this. I had a boss, that worked as a toxicologist at Walter Reed Army Hospital, that told us about many of the tests that they had done on unsuspecting soldiers. He seemed quite tortured by it. Most of it became known, later; the LSD, MK-Ultra, all that bit. He had also spoken of untracable carcinogens. Aren’t radioactive materials also carcinogenic? Much of what he had told us, back in ’85, became public knowledge after the Freedom of Information Act. One thing, that he told us, back then, that had not come out, was the story that he had been in charge of cleaning out the toxicology lab, after the treat of exposure in the media, in ’72, of the experiments being done on Army personel. Instead of discarding the Acid, Cocaine, and Psylicibic Mushrooms, he took them to party with his buddies. One of whom was one George Walker Bush. Being at the time he told us that, son of the then Vice President George Herbert Walker Bush. There were pictures of the party, aboard a boat on the Cheasapeake, whild “W” was in the …was it the National Gaurd? There was also a bit about other potentially embarrassing behavior, while in a blackout, by “W”. Anyhow, the time that Dan Rather had been investigating, when he was removed from his job as anchor at CBS. My then boss warned us that it could be dangerous to know what he had told us. I have been unable to locate him, since “W” was elected. I began to recieve death threats, and “Stalkers” in ’85, and have suffered such, everytime a Bush “staged” a war, or an election, since. It would seem to me, that the future prevention of these toxic events, might necessitate the toxilogical study of the very toxic nature of those that could so easily “neuter and make irrelevant” any agency that would form to protect America and the world, from such horrors.
    There was one extreme coincidence connected to all this. My favorite childhood Uncle (by marriage) was a Psychologist at Walter Reed that Summer, of ’72. The grown ups told us that his death, ruled a suicide, was as a result of his having been given Acid, without his knowledge. It triggered the investigation that led to the clean up, my former boss engaged in. Given the toxicity of all the events involved, it would seem that there is a danger of Walker’s embarrassing behavior becoming public knowledge. Karma? The world may decide.

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  9. Steve


    My degree is physics. Much in this research indicates the distinct possibility of using radium, a strong alpha emitter as a tracer. In St. Louis at the time much research was being done to assay for strontium in biological material from residents. What Dr. Martino-Taylor’s research clearly shows is a pattern of embedded studies with different security clearance levels. A parallel study to assay for radium can not be ruled out. The fact that the unique status of much of the St. Louis studies remaining classified when so much of the other previous ingestion and injection studies have been released is also troubling. We know according to Martino-Taylor’s research that scientist wanted to study alpha emitters in the lung and radiological clouds in dense urban areas. Further ingestion studies are known to have been done with human subjects as well as injection ( all without consent), what is coming to light in St. Louis is a strong indicator that the “urban” inhalation studies may have been accomplished in St. Louis. The rest of the documents need to be released. Why are they still classified?


    • Earful

      Radium is not a tracer! The most stable isotope has a nuclear spin state of 0 and so does its daughter. Very weak gamma component. You’d have better luck detecting a photon from the decay of the daughter product before it floats away.
      This dissertation is not science, it is inference. Army needs to do nothing.

      • Steve

        You keep missing the point that studies were done by a group associated with this on human tissue. With the injection study even autopsy material was assayed for “product”. Biological work cannot be discounted and as you said “But if the radon is trapped when radium decays, like in the paint of radioluminescent dials, Geiger counters scream just feet away.” US Radium, responsible for the poisoning of the Radium Girls produced some of the still classified material for the overt “tracer study”. Measurable radioactivity lingered in them even long after they perished as is well documented. So exposure to radium is very detectable in bodies. I should be clearer in the use of the term “tracer” but I believe my point stands.

        Why the lingering classification of so many St. Louis documents? The silence is deafening.

  10. Steve


    Also, as per wikipedia-

    Radium has no stable isotopes; however, four isotopes of radium are present in decay chains, having atomic masses of 223, 224, 226 and 228, all of which are present in trace amounts. The most abundant and the longest-living one is radium-226, with a half-life of 1601 years. To date, 33 isotopes of radium have been synthesized, ranging in mass number from 202 to 234.

    “longest living with half life of 1601 years.” That is Radium 226. One of the products sprayes was FP2266 and FP2267 with the last numeral an indicator of size. Radium is an alpha emitter and is highly radio active as well. This is highly suggestive.

    Curie was poisoned by her own research into radium, the radium girls were sickened and killed by inhalation of radium dust.

    Radium is highly radioactive and Radium 226 has a healthy half life of 1601 years. It would take a VERY long time for decay to 10 percent. That is a hard science fact.

    The Army needs to answer. Actually Senator Blunt from Missouri just sent out a press release calling this information “disturbing”.

    You comment on spin is not so clear.

    • Earful

      Steve, I was trying to relate some physics for you and why you need either a significant quantity of radium powder or radium in a matrix that retains the radon gas. Conservation of angular momentum states the decay of nuclear spin state 0 isotope Ra-226 to nuclear spin state 0 isotope Rn-222 proceeds with all energy of decay directed to the emitted alpha particle (He-4). Nothing is forbidden, though, weak gamma does occur. Alpha detection is extremely difficult as the particles quickly turn into harmless helium in a few centimeters of air. Gamma radiation is detectable as the rays are very penetrating. Colbalt-60 nuclear spin state 5+ largely decays into Nickel-60 possessing a nuclear spin state 4+ with the energy of transition shared between a beta particle and antineutrino. Angular momentum is conserved as Nickel-60 quickly changes from nuclear spin state 4+, to 2+, to ground state stable Ni-60 0+ with emission of two photons (gamma radiation).

      Less physics now… Yes, alpha emitters, even pure alpha emitters, are extremely biologically radiotoxic when not excreted from the body. On the periodic table, you see radium is in the same column as calcium, scary stuff. RIP the early pioneers, not so much Marie, born in 1867. She lived to 66 years old in pre-antibiotic times.

      If US Radium messed up and shipped a blended ZnCdS + Ra powder product, the student that was hired to operate the sprayer in St.Louis would have definitely made remarks about how the powder glowed very brightly without any uv light.

      Dr. Martino-Taylor simply hit the formula correct: combine a bunch of emotional words spoken in first person, include minority, add a dash of radioactive fear, then follow up with past atrocities proving it could be done again. So far nothing, beyond her inference, states any wrongdoing involving radiation has occurred.

      • Steve

        I know, you posted the same on the KSDK site regarding the formula. At least there you posted your name. Various things were noted by the students including greenish glow in some of the material. There was more than one type of material it seems with different colors and fluorescent properties. So that is consistent with your observation. Your comments about gamma (electromagnetic) versus alpha penetration is elementary. Of course high energy photonics have greater penetration than alpha. That said alpha is much more damaging to human tissue once absorbed- basic bio physics. If you read the dissertation rather than skimming it you will note that Hempleman, who was involved in project Gabriel and project Sunshine was interested in testing in humans and animals radiological dust clouds. If this sounds sinister, the presidential commission had uncovered prior that Hempelmann had overseen the injection of radioactive materials without consent into patients to assay after death. This without consent. Further great concern was given to particle size for lung absorption in modeling which from a nano particle perspective matches well with the St. Louis material that was sprayed. You seem to want to LECTURE a lot about basic quantum theory and expense of the broader view. It seems this group of scientists well documented did studies in radiological metabolism as previously reported with ingestion, injection. What is missing is their much coveted inhalation studies. What we see in St. Louis is consistent with what that might have looked like. It was not air and open environment they were always interested in.

        I agree with Senator Blunt we need to take this seriously.

  11. Earful

    Just saying it’s very easy to disconnect the social component of Army research by discussing hard science. I just hope the fact comes out the scientists were also able to disconnect the human component of research and refer to historical studies of lung implanted alpha emitters, especially since this article’s black eye could progress to full corpse status now The People are involved. Originally, I would have wanted Dr. Martino-Taylor to have spent more time with radiological health physicists before making her assumptions; it gets us in the field riled up as we google search these kind of articles to lend an educated voice (passion of science, not politics).

    Pretty cool about the nuclear spin states, though, right? (especially the forbidden and doubly forbidden transitions :) A copy of the Chart of the Nuclides (isotopes) is great to have if you love nuclear physics. The booklet comes with the wall poster to walk you through many examples.

    BTW, politics reign supreme even in science, and it was very easy for me to get somewhat blacklisted in government science since I’m a non-opinionated old school science non-stop question ask’er. But Dr. Martino-Taylor is not, so I speak up!

    • Steve

      Well, I am a fan of quantum. More so of General Relativity- which is fun after the climb of tensors.

      I disagree with your premise about disconnection the social component of Army research. I think it is the Dr’s point that it was the secrecy surrounding the research prevented and critical dialog of those in the spray area. Consent should be required for such research. In this case and in others such as the injections of plutonium into patient without consent.

      There are important questions Dr. Martino-Taylor is asking. We and those like us with physic backgrounds cannot dismiss them because of them being under the purview of sociology.

      Further, the Chair of this Dissertation committee has a degree in Chemistry from Harvard. We should not be prejudiced against people’s
      intellectual integrity because of the academy in which they research.

      To me, we cannot afford to divorce scientific research from social components. Stakeholder’s must have input especially if it is there bodies being exposed. Even if harmless, which cadmium itself is not, it is the decision of the subject. That was central to every code, even military research ethics of the time.

      Remember what Oppenheimer opined at trinity- “now we (physicists) know sin”. The nature of those sins are becoming more apparent as time goes on due to the work of researchers such as Martino-Taylor.

  12. Cheryl L. Wilson

    Interested – in the late 60 I worked on Front st. in E. St. Louis and replaced a a young women who had a lung collapse and 1 1/2 years I had the same thing happen 2 times we were both healthy young women in our 20 I have often about this – Front st. is at the first st. across from St. Louis (downtown) C wilson

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  15. Why all the spin-state theory ?… all we need is the table of decays and their relative branching ratios. This is engineering not basic-quantum lecture. We are interested in DoD initiatives and the way they were carried out, the relation of these to THE LAW, not in physics lectures. Is this smoke-screening ?

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  18. Seems to me Earful you are missing the main point. The experiments targeted MINORITIES without thier consent as expendible subjects for deadly research. I know for a fact the C.I.A conducted forced sterilisations of minorities in 27 states. However in the remaining states I have reason to believe the same type of program was carried out with military assistance, using deadly agents in experiments on Native Americans and other minorities.This is the MAIN ISSUE. And you appear to be sidestepping it.Since you wish to down play this ONGOING race based experimentation, I now submit that future experiments should be done in middle to upper income neighborhoods of Itialians, or Irish, or Swedes. Would such an experiment be pleasing to you or would you call it an “outrage”? Amazing how it feels when the shoe is on the other foot….

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