Lisa Martino-Taylor is a sociologist whose life's work has been to
uncover details of the Army's ultra-secret military experiments carried
out in St. Louis and other cities during the 1950s and 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 the spraying of zinc cadmium
sulfide did take place in St. Louis on thousands of unsuspecting
citizens. What is unclear is whether the Army added a radioactive
material to the compound as Martino-Taylor's research implies.
"The study was secretive for reason. They didn't have volunteers
stepping up and saying yeah, I'll breathe zinc cadmium sulfide with
radioactive particles," said Martino-Taylor.
Army archive pictures show how the tests were done in Corpus Christi,
Texas in the 1960s. In Texas, planes were used to drop the chemical. But
in St. Louis, the Army placed chemical sprayers on buildings and
Documents confirmed that city officials were kept in the dark about the
tests. The Cold War cover story was that the Army was testing smoke
screens to protect cities from a Russian attack. The truth, according to
Martino-Taylor was much more sinister.
"It was pretty shocking. The level of duplicity and 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 the spraying of zinc cadmium
Martino-Taylor says the greatest concentration was centered on the
Pruitt-Igoe housing complex, just northwest of downtown St. Louis in the
Carr Square neighborhood. It was home to 10,000 low income people. An
estimated 70 percent she says were children under the age of 12.
"This was a violation of all medical ethics, all international codes,
and the military's own policy at that time," said Martino-Taylor.
In 1994, then-Congressman Richard Gephardt (D-St. Louis), asked the Army to open its records and explain the St. Louis testing.
At the time Rep. Gephardt said, "We want to make sure nothing went on
that would harm anyone, and 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 and 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 and the city,
in particular minority communities, were subjected to military testing
that was connected to a larger radiological weapons testing project,"
For the first time, she links the 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 it added a 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 the compound caused long term health issues.
In 1972, after years of crime, poverty, and decline, the government destroyed the Pruitt -Igoe housing complex.
Click here to see Martino-Taylor's research and the unclassified government documents.
Martino-Taylor will make all of her findings public Tuesday at St. Louis Community College-Meramec campus.
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