Senators seek info on St. Louis chemical spraying

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Missouri's senators have asked the U.S. Army for more information about a chemical spraying program that included testing in St. Louis about 50 years ago.

Sens. Claire McCaskill and Roy Blunt made separate written requests Thursday asking the Army to produce more information about the St. Louis testing in the 1950s and 1960s, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Saturday (

The senators' requests stem from the recently publicized research of Lisa Martino-Taylor, a sociology professor at St. Louis Community College. Martino-Taylor's research raises questions about the chemical components in the aerosol spraying that often took place in St. Louis neighborhoods with largely African-American populations.

St. Louis was among several cities where the aerosol testing took place. It used zinc cadmium sulfide, a powder combined with fluorescent particles. Officials in St. Louis were told at the time the government was testing a smoke screen that could shield the city from aerial observation.

In the 1990s, the government said the tests were part of a biological weapons program and that St. Louis was chosen because it resembled cities in Russia that the U.S. might attack. The National Research Council minimized health concerns about the program in 1997, but recommended additional study.

McCaskill, a Democrat, told Army Secretary John McHugh in her letter that she wants to know if more studies were ever done. Blunt, a Republican, also asked for details about the spraying.

"The idea that thousands of Missourians were unwillingly exposed to harmful materials in order to determine their health effects is absolutely shocking. It should come as no surprise that these individuals and their families are demanding answers of government officials," Blunt wrote.

Martino-Taylor said she would like to see public hearings about the spraying program.

"The Senate and House had investigations back in the 1990s but nothing ever came of it," she said. "Nobody has ever talked to the people who were exposed."


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