Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The New Phoenix Program; Human Radiation Studies Part II

Nuclear testing began in the Pacific and the continental US. Residents of the Marshall Islands were focibly relocated and dozens of devices were tested there, some so enormous they obliterated large parts of the Islands. Captured and obsolete ships were placed in the blast zone with test animals on board. After the detonations thousands of observerd and military moves near ground zero to decontaminate equipment. The military brass wanted to know how equipment and men would fare in a nuclear war. At what point are the ships too hot or the men too poisoned to continue to fight. The Air Force sent planes into radioactive clouds that registered 800 rad per hour or higher adopting lead helmets and special shielding in an effort to protect the pilots. The army placed troops in trenches 1,000 yards from the blast and immediately after the explosion walked them on line through ground zero in an effort to prepare them psychologically for fighting with nuclear weapons.
General James Cooney was the foremost advocate of testing and took authority away from the AEC Atomic Energy Commission for the responsibility of setting exposure limits on troops. Scientists were allowed exposure of no more than 3 rad for a 13 week period while limits for military personnel were oficially set at 5 rad per test. The badges given to troops to wear measured only external beta radiation and were not used extensively. The scientists working for the AEC wore protective gear while the troops did not. The health effects of radiation were fairly well known to the scientists involved due o their animal studies, industrial
accidents, and the very public deaths of Madame Curie and others. By the 1920's it was known that hundreds of the early pioneerd in radiation studies were dead. A single dose of 350 rad was the human LD-50, the dose that caused death to half those exposed. One millionth of a gra, once inside the human body could cause death. A nuclear explosion immediately produces Alpha, Beta, Gamma, and X-ray radiation. Hundreds of different radioactive isotopic particles are formed as residual contamination that is absorbed into different body tissues with varying degrees of longevity and toxicity. One example is radioiodine that
collects in the thyroid. This kaleidoscope of sources make it difficult to gage what dose has been delivered and to what effect. Inhalation of a small particle of plutonium would collect in the bone marrow and emit energies on the order of 200 million electron volts. The normal energy level of the human cell is 10 electron volts, and under such an assault the cell either dies, becomes inoperable, or grows uncontrollably, in other words, cancer.

Arthur compton and the other physicist knew what had happened to the earlier experimenters with radioactive materials. Compton chose Robert Stone in Berkeley and Joseph Hamilton at Chicago to research the biological aspects. The scientists who conducted these experiments were not from the inner sanctum trying to build the Bomb, they reported their findings to them. Joseph Hamilton began to study radiation effects in rats in the summer of 1942. In 1943 the first human test subjects would be used without their knowledge or consent. All the experiments were conducted for the express purpose of answering the unknowns, how much radiation could kill a man? Could blood tests detect exposure? Are there treatments for exposure? Long before radiological warfare was used on enemy populations in war it was purposefully tested on American civilians. By 1945 the war was over but these quetions remained unanswered. The
experiments would have to continue for the next thirty years.

Admiral James Cooney became the leading advocate for an experiment on 200 healthy "volunteers" using up to 150 rad or more. Col. Shields Warren opposed the idea as did other civilian scientists. he argued that 200 was too small a number to base a study on, a real study would have to include 10,000 or more subjects. While this argument raged the School of Aviation Medicine in San Antonio, texas quietly began to do the tests for the Air Force. Randolph Lee Clarke, the director of the MD Anderson, oversaw the first study irradiating sick cancer patients with hundreds of rads using TBI or total body irradiation. Human subjects were chosen with tumors that did not respond to treatment with radiation. Patients that would have been helped by radiation would have shown altered levels of blood cells, amino acids, enzymes, plasma proteins and lipids that would have clouded the results in the search for a biological dosimeter. Col. Shields Warren did not object to the use of cancer patients but many of these people were not very ill or had been misdiagnosed. At least two of the twenty people injected with plutonium had been misdiagnosed as having cancer when they did not. Many of the others were not cancer patients but suffered from illnesses such as scleroderma or Cushing's disease. These errors were repeated in the Total Body Irradiation experiments that were sponsored by the military. Many of the cancer patients had been well enough to work and live normally. After doses of 100 to 2,000 rad many died within days or weeks and had in fact been killed by radiation poisoning. Those that lived were often debilitated and in constant pain.

Surprisingly or not, 34 Nazi scientists were employed at Randoplh AFB in San Antonio and involved in these lethal experiments. These were just a few of the thousands of Nazi scientists who had secretly been smuggled into the US under operation "Paperclip" to help the US destroy the USSR. Dr. Hubertus Strughold was their intellectual and spiritual leader in radiation studies. He brought in Dr. Herbert Gerstner who had used human subjects during the war to study at what point human hearing is completely destroyed due to explosions from shelling. He also used people to study the exact cause of death in cases of electrocution. He found that death resulted from a tremendous increase in blood pressure that forced blood from the peripheral vessels into the heart and abdominal cavity. These men had all experimented on Jews, Gypsies, intellectuals, homosexuals, allied pow's, and others and were now in San Antonio doing lethal TBI experiments on American citizens for the military.
Gerstner and Eugene Saenger collaborated on the TBI studies, Gerstner did the first one and Saenger did the last one. The locations included MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Sloan-Kettering in New Yorl, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, and Oak Ridge Tennessee between the years 1951 and 1974 sudying about 500 patients. The TBI experiments were only a subset of the radiation experiments on human subjects that included plutonium injections, radioactive isotope studies, and many others. Vanderbilt University Hospital Prenatal Clinic hosted 850 pregnant women to a secret study using radioactive isotopes iron-55 and iron-59. The pregnant women were given a cocktail and told it was vitamins for their unborn child. Free health care was the lure used on the economically disadvantaged women. Helen Hutchinson was 6 months pregnant and visited the clinic in July, 1946 seeking treatment for nausea. She was given a cocktail by the doctor and told to drink it, that it would make her
feel better. Several months after the birth of her daughter her hair ferll out and she developed blisters, anemia,
and later had life threatening complications after several miscarriages. Her daughter barbara was always tired as a child, developed an ummune system disorder and skin cancer. Many of the mothers and children exposed to radioactive iron developed strange afflictions, rashes, anemia, blood disorders, and cancer. Paul Hahn, the principle investigator in the study, was a protégé of Stafford Warren and had worked with Robly Evans. Hahn wrote that iron-55 with a half life of 5 years was too hazardous to be given to humans and had no therepeutic value, yet he used it in his study which was partially funded by the Rockefeller Foundation. Helen Hutchinson's husband had landed in Europe on D-Day, and had personally helped liberate Buchenwald concentration camp. The Nazi doctors who worked in the camp may have been some of the very men who participated in the radiation experiment on his wife and unborn child.

One study conducted at the fernald State School in Waltham, Massachusetts used radiactive iron and calcium secretly given to 74 orphans in their oatmeal using th ruse of a nutrition study. Robly Evans produced the raioactive isotopes in the MIT cyclotron and supervised the experiment. The lure used by the MIT scientists was membership in a science club what went on school outings to baseball games and even christmas parties at the MIT faculty club. The scientists may not have believed that the amount of radiation involved was harmful, but they would not have allowed this experiment to be conducted on their own families.

At Washington State Penitentiary and Oregon State Prison about 200 prisonores had their testicles irradiated with 8 to 600 rads with the lure of a little money and extra privileges. Carl Heller, one of the world's leading endocrinologists, and his protégé C. Alvin Paulsen ran the two studies from 1963 until 1971. These and similar experiments on thousands of people continued for 30 years in the vain search for a biological dosimeter. The identities and the ultimate fates of the test subjects will never be known, most going to their graves never knowing they had been used as guman guinea pigs by their own government.

Elmer Allen was designated experimental test subject CAL-13. Only July 18, 1947 in a San Francisco
Hospital he was injected with plutonium in the left leg. Three days later the leg was amputated at mid thigh. Elmer was a porter for the Pullman Company who injured his leg while stepping off a train. He was diagnosed with a fracture that developed into a cyst. The first test for cancer was negative, a second test indicated cancer. Unable to work after the amputation, he was forced to return to Italy, Texas with his wife and three children. His wife recalled that he began having epileptic seizures,"he would chew the spoon to pieces, his tongue too". Elmer began drinking heavily and told his best friend that he had been used as a guinea pig, but no one not even his family doctor believed him. The doctor later diagnosed him as a paranoid schzophrenic. During a effort to collect the bodies of the people injected with plutonium it was discovered to their amazement that 4 of them were still alive. In 1973 Austin Bues, from the Center for Human Radiobiology wrote to Elmer and asked him to be in a metabolism study. He and his wife were brougyht to Chicago and Elmer's urine and feces were collected for two weeks. The trip was paid for and Elmer received $140 plus 13$ a day expenses.
X-rays revealed bone damage consisted with radiation. One year after Elmer's death the family was contacted by a reporter and learned that Elmer had been a human experimental subject and the family had been lied to for 44 years. Elmer Allen died in 1991, his head stone reads Elmer Allen 1911-1947 CAL-13 1947-1991 One of America's nuclear guinea pigs.

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