St. Louis KSDK – Lisa Martino-Taylor is a sociologist whose life’s work has been to uncover details of Army’s ultra-secret military experiments carried out in St. Louis & other cities during1950s & 60s.
She will make her research public Tuesday, but she spoke first to the I-Team’s Leisa Zigman.
The I-Team independently verified that spraying of zinc cadmium sulfide did take place in St. Louis on thousands of unsuspecting citizens. What is unclear is whether Army added a radioactive material to compound as Martino-Taylor’s research implies.
“The study was secretive: they didn’t have volunteers stepping up & saying yeah, I’ll breathe zinc cadmium sulfide with radioactive particles” said Martino-Taylor.
Army archive pictures show how tests were done in Corpus Christi, Texas in 1960s. In Texas, planes were used to drop chemical. But in St. Louis, Army placed chemical sprayers on buildings & station wagons.
Documents confirmed city officials were kept in the dark about tests. Cold War cover story was that Army was testing smoke screens to protect cities from a Russian attack. Truth was much more sinister.
“It was pretty shocking. Level of duplicity & secrecy. Clearly they went to great lengths to deceive people,” she said.
By making hundreds of Freedom of Information Act requests, she uncovered once-classified documents that confirm spraying of zinc cadmium sulfide.
Martino-Taylor says greatest concentration was centered on Pruitt-Igoe housing complex, just northwest of downtown St. Louis in Carr Square neighborhood. It was home to 10,000 low income people. An estimated 70 percent she says were children under age of 12.
“This was a violation of all medical ethics, international codes, & military’s own policy at that time,” said Martino-Taylor.
In 1994, then-Congressman Richard Gephardt D-St. Louis, asked Army to open its records & explain the St. Louis testing. “We want to make sure nothing went on that would harm anyone, & that all the fact are out on the table.”
Documents released in the 90s showed the Army placed sprayers on a former Knights of Columbus building on Lindell & in Forest Park. The Army always insisted the chemical compound was safe. Martino-Taylor believes documents prove otherwise.
“There is a lot of evidence that shows people in St. Louis & the city, in particular minority communities, were subjected to military testing that was connected to a larger radiological weapons testing project,” she said.
St. Louis testing to a company called US Radium, a company notorious for lawsuits involving radioactive contamination of its workers.
“US radium had this reputation where they had been found legally liable for producing a radioactive powdered paint that killed many young women who painted fluorescent watch tiles,” said Martino-Taylor.
While the Army admits added florescent substance to the zinc cadmium compound, details of whether it was radioactive remains secret.
Documents uncovered to date indicate the Army never conducted follow-up studies to see whether compound caused long term health issues.
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