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Mustard Gas Study WWII

22 Jun

As a young U.S. Army soldier during World War II, Rollins Edwards knew better than to refuse an assignment.

When officers led him and a dozen others into a wooden gas chamber and locked the door, he didn’t complain. None of them did. Then, a mixture of mustard gas and a similar agent called lewisite was piped inside.

“It felt like you were on fire,” recalls Edwards, now 93 years old. “Guys started screaming and hollering and trying to break out. And then some of the guys fainted. And finally they opened the door and let us out, and the guys were just, they were in bad shape.”

About This Investigation

This is Part 1 of a two-part investigation on mustard gas testing conducted by the U.S. military during World War II. The second story in this report will examine the failures by the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide benefits to those injured by military mustard gas experiments.

Edwards was one of 60,000 enlisted men enrolled in a once-secret government program — formally declassified in 1993 — to test mustard gas and other chemical agents on American troops. But there was a specific reason he was chosen: Edwards is African-American.

“They said we were being tested to see what effect these gases would have on black skins,” Edwards says.

An NPR investigation has found evidence that Edwards’ experience was not unique. While the Pentagon admitted decades ago that it used American troops as test subjects in experiments with mustard gas, until now, officials have never spoken about the tests that grouped subjects by race.

For the first time, NPR tracked down some of the men used in the race-based experiments. And it wasn’t just African-Americans. Japanese-Americans were used as test subjects, serving as proxies for the enemy so scientists could explore how mustard gas and other chemicals might affect Japanese troops. Puerto Rican soldiers were also singled out…

The VA’s broken promise to those exposed to Mustard Gas

In secret chemical weapons experiments conducted during World War II, the U.S. military exposed thousands of American troops to mustard gas.

When those experiments were formally declassified in the 1990s, the Department of Veterans Affairs made two promises: to locate about 4,000 men who were used in the most extreme tests, and to compensate those who had permanent injuries.

Charlie Cavell at his home in Virginia. He is one of 60,000 World War II veterans exposed to mustard gas as part of secret experiments by the U.S. military.
Ariel Zambelich/NPR

But the VA didn’t uphold those promises, an NPR investigation has found.

NPR interviewed more than 40 living test subjects and family members, and they describe an unending cycle of appeals and denials as they struggled to get government benefits for mustard gas exposure. Some gave up out of frustration.


Reasons for admission to an insane asylum

23 Oct

After viewing this list of what could have gotten you admitted to West Virginia’s Hospital for the Insane (Weston) aka Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum back in the late-1800s, I’ve swiftly concluded that the criteria was rather all-encompassing. Who among us is a stranger to what’s on this list?

The meatrix

5 Aug

Award winning animation on the factory farms and their treatment of animals.

It links you to

The ‘what you can do’ tab has helpful links as well.

The interactive 360 is a simple teaching tool that students can use. It would be good to assign a homework assignment for students to explore this and write about some facts they’ve learned from it.

Immokalee workers and birth defects from pesticides

25 May
Immokalee workers and birth defects from pesticides. Local issue going on in FL. Compelling pictures. EJ issue, 2005 article.

Canada reviving the Asbestos industry

13 May

Even though it is well known that asbestos exposure causes mesothelioma, the town Asbestos, in Canada, is reviving its Asbestos mining to sell it to India. Check out the interview, the third video down in the segment called “ored to death.”
Major EJ issue!

Allergies in school

24 Mar

Interesting story of a child with extreme allergies and how a school district is dealing with accommodating her.

Sharing Breast Milk

24 Jan

Breast milk sharing through a milk bank. Interesting…