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FOIA: Human Radiation Experiment Records Vol.1

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posted on Jan, 27 2008 @ 07:55 AM
Human Radiation Experiment Records Volume 1 1944-1994
Public Relations. Explains radiation experiments involving humans including intentional releases of radiation, atmospheric testing, medical and other uses.

Document date: 1997-06-01
Department: Department of Defense
Author: Asst to the Sec Def for Nuclear Chemical and Biological Defense Programs
Document type: Report
pages: 588


Archivist's Notes: Long document. Slightly difficult to read.

posted on Jan, 31 2008 @ 03:09 AM
Human Radiation Experiments (HRE) publication of 588 pages between 1944-1994. The U.S. Department of Defence was directed by President Clinton.

Pdf pg 13 is the introduction.
We find their definition for Human Radiation Experiments, some extra components accompanying their definition, the quantity of studies submitted and why it was narrowed to 2389 used in the publication. Further, it mentions a volume 2 that was to be published plus makes special mention that they will be covering in this publication, the issues that were of public interest at the time: “Green Run” release at the Hanford Reservation, the six radiation warfare tests at Dugway Proving Ground Utah, 4 atmospheric radiation tracking tests conducted in 1950 at Los Alamos, New Mexico.
Also included because of public interest are some that were not considered HRE but involving ionizing radiation:
Total body irradiation studies, nasopharyngeal irradiation, cold weather tests involving radioactive iodine-131, human aspects research involving U.S. nuclear weapons tests, and food irradiation studies. They include additional reference information.
Pdf pg 14 has an overview of why the HREs were being done after the second World War.

Pdf pg 15-16 cites examples of how well the government responded to public concerns about experiments.

Pdf pg 17-18 discusses the policy development 1953: Human Subjects Protection Policy, written by Secretary of Defense Charles E. Wilson. The policy became known as the Wilson Memorandum. Also there is mention of the U.S.’s interest in nuclear powered aircraft in the 1940s and the program (NEPA) needing research on humans for this:
During the late 1940s, DoD and the United Stares Air Force (USAF) investigated the possibility of developing a nuclear powered aircraft, a program commonly referred to as the Nuclear Energy for the Propulsion of Aircraft (NEPA) project.
In 1949, NEPA officials recommended conducting unclassified research on human volunteers to study the biological effects of radiation on the air crew of a nuclear powered aircraft.

Pdf pg 19 Has 3 principles that the protection policy committee endorsed:
1.The voluntary consent of the person on whom the experiment is to be performed must be obtained. 2.The danger of each experiment must have been previously investigated by animal experimentation. 3. The experiment must be performed under proper medical protection and management.

Pdf pg 20-22 has the 1953 Secretary of Defense Memorandum that went out to the Army, Navy and Air Force which detailed the conditions under which they could use human volunteers in experimental research.

Pdf pg 25 has more detail about NEPA/MAC (Nuclear Energy for Propulsion of Aircraft/Medical Advisory Committee.

I found the following part outrageous:
The panel discussed the problem of human tolerance to radiation and the determination of maximum doses of radiation that the military would find acceptable. The panel stated that it was desirable and necessary for the national defense to pursue human experiments on the effects of total body irradiation to psychologically and socially acceptable limits.
(Archivist note:

Due to the huge size of this document, my review will be done in sections and posted a little at a time. My fellow archivists are welcome to jump in and review some sections to contribute to the review process I have started.

posted on Feb, 5 2008 @ 08:04 PM
Pdf pg26: 1950-1951 Appears to have difference of opinion regarding human experimentation, whether it be a military issue only or a civilian and military issue.
In 1950 Air Force Surgeon General Harry Armstrong didn’t agree with NEPA/MAC that they arrange for experimentation on humans…he proposed it had civilian repercussions as well and therefore it should be in the hands of the AEC. Director Medical Services for DoD agreed.
In 1951 NEPA announced the discontinuation of efforts to obtain governmental approval for experimentation on humans along the lines recommended by NEPA advisory committee. At this same time, DoD funded observational studies on patients receiving radiation as part of therapeutic procedures. The Air Force provided funds for data collection on the physical symptoms of radiation sickness and the effects of radiation on psychomotor capabilities.

Pdf pg 27 Further discusses human subjects protection policy. In October 1952 there was a memorandum from within the AFMPC (by Mr Jackson) recommending that the council adopt the principals of the Nuremberg Code, with the language: “Whereas prisoners incarcerated in penal institutions may and have been used if the required conditions are met, prisoners of war will not be used in human experimentation.” Jackson then amended this proposed language, removing the first part…so it then read “Prisoners of war will not be used in human experimentation.”

Pdf pg28: The Nuremberg Code.

Pdf pg 29: History of the Nuremberg Trials. Plus, notes that by 1952, deliberations regarding human experimentation policy was completed. However, due to elections, it needed to be installed by the incoming government so it waited till 1953. The new Secretary of Defense, Charles E. Wilson signed a memorandum on 26 Feb 1953 that finally established a DoD human subjects protection policy. The policy was based on the Nuremberg Code, required written consent, and prohibited the use of prisoners of war. It applied to human volunteers only in the fields of atomic, biological and chemical warfare research. Due to it being labeled Top Secret, it was only distributed to 3 branches of the military and copies were forwarded to Joint Chiefs of Staff and the RDB.

Legal interpretations of the memorandum were requested on at least 2 occasions but were denied.

Pdf pg 30: Differences within the 3 areas of military on how it was implemented. Ambiguity of whether or not it applied to contract research.

18 years later, inquiries by several senate committees found that the Army had involvement in hallucinogenic drug research….pointed to inconsistencies in implementing the Wilson Human Policy.

Pdf pg 31: Questions remain whether the Wilson Policy ever filtered to agencies such as Armed Forces Special Weapons Project (AFSWP).

Each branch issued its own policy.

Pdf pg 32-33: Current DoD policy. Agency and Biomedical Research Programs contacts.

End of Chapter 1

posted on Feb, 5 2008 @ 11:16 PM
Pdf pg 39: DoD's interest in Total Body Irradiation Research.
1. predict the hospitalization requirements and decrease in the work capacity of soldiers who were exposed to radiation in a nuclear battlefield, 2. estimate the manifestation of radiation exposure on workers at nuclear weapon production facilities of the AEC,
3. estimate the manifestation of radiation exposure on the general population in the event of a nuclear war.
DoD funded five clinical TBI projects between 1950 to 1972.
Pdf pg 40 Lists the hospitals and universities involved in the five projects. DoD was also looking for a simple test military doctors could use to measure the dose of radiation an individual received.
Pdf pg 41 Table of Terms Used in the Chapter.
Pdf pg 42 – 52 The findings of the five projects.
Pdf pg 53-60: Nasopharyngeal irradiation Therapy. Radium was discovered to be useful to treat patients for hearing impairment caused by chronic inflammation of the middle ear. It was of interest to the military in and after WW2 to treat otitis media resulting from pressure changes in the middle ear.
In the 1940s the military did their own studies on servicemen, giving them this treatment. The immediate results were pleasing to them. Approx. 8000 aviators, naval aviators and submariners participated in the studies. In the 50s and 60s, medical literature began to report that thyroid cancer might occur from head and neck x-rays and from nasopharyngeal radiation therapy.
Further civilian and military attempts to study the long-term affects of the treatment could not be conclusive though it appeared there was no real increased risk of other cancers.

Pdf pg 61-64 Iodine-131 study conducted by the Arctic Aeromedical Laboratory.
In 1947 a laboratory was set up at Ladd Air Force Base, Alaska. It studied the environmental hardships on military personnel. Public concern was with the Native Alaskan participation, particularly the use of radioisotope tracers to asses the role of the thyroid gland in human acclimatization to cold.
Between 1955 to 1957, 200 tracer doses of iodine131 were administered to examine the levels of it in blood, thyroid, urine, and saliva samples. Military personnel were also used in the studies.
Results showed the thyroid had no real function in human acclimatization to the cold.

In more recent times, congressional and Native Alaskan concerns about the study, forced the National Research Council to evaluate the studies. It reported that physical harm was negligible but from an ethical perspective, the program was flawed even by 1950s standards, particularly in relation to informed consent, and thus the military and native population involved were wronged.

posted on Feb, 7 2008 @ 11:45 PM
Pdf pg 65 to 72 is a chapter on Intentional Atmospheric Releases of Radioactive Material.
No human experiments were done, but these are included because of public interest.
Both tests began in the 1940s.
Green Run was in Washington state at the Hanford site with General Electric being the public health advisory body.
Iodine 131 and Xenon 133 were released into the atmosphere. The intention of the release was to develop testing methods for the long-range detection of radioactive material.
It was called Green Run because they intentionally used fuel that had only cooled for 16 days and therefore had not decayed. The planned quantity was 4000 curies of I131 and 7900 curies of Xe133. What eventually got released was between two and two and one half times this – the reason, unknown.
The second location was Los Alamos, the project named RaLa.
The goal of that test was to study weapon implosion dynamics. The RaLa studies were from 1944 to 1962. The radioactive element Lanthanum was used.
Pdf pg 75-85 Radiological Warfare Chapter.
In 1946 a test called Shot Baker in the Pacific detonated a bomb the size of the Nagasaki bomb below a fleet of ships.
They were bathed in radioactive water spray and radioactive debri from the lagoon bottom. This renewed interest in the idea of radiological warfare. In 1948 a joint study program was established between DoD and AEC to discuss whether nuclear warfare was a more humane approach to war, reasoning that an environment could be contaminated but didn't necessarily kill people straight away. The majority of the testing was done at Dugway Proving Ground in Utah, but also at Oaks Ridge, Tennessee. The tests continued till 1952 when funding dropped dramatically.
Pdf pg 87 -93 Human Aspects Research & U.S. Atmospheric Nuclear Weapons Testing. In 1994 DoD conducted extensive search for records of human use in radiation research.
No publication was identified, however the Committee on Human Radiation Experiments concluded "although there was no real possibility that human subject research had been conducted in conjunction with the bomb tests, the tests were not themselves experiments involving human subjects."

Human aspects research conducted in conjunction with atomic weapons tests were designed to study the effects atomic weapons would have on combat operations. E.g. flashblindness from bomb detonations, nuclear cloud penetration studies (air crew flying into nuclear clouds for test samples).

Pdf pg 95-100 Food Irradiation. Testing began in the 1950s with no reported health effects to the participation. DoD were looking for ways of extending the life of the stored food for the military personnel. Volunteers were tested after animal testing showed no negative effects. Pasteurisation is one type of food irradiation. Food irradiation is still in use commercially and in the military in recent times.
Pdf pg 106-492 Human Radiation Experiments, Projects, Studies as reported by the Services and DoD organizations. Between 1944-1974. The list begins….alphabetical listings by location. The list shows a great range of tests and many have the sentence beneath… 'radiation doses and results of this study are not available at this time'. The list later moves to 1975-1994.

One would need to be a medical expert to be able to weed out items from these lists which warrant detailed investigation !!!

Pdf pg 493-588 consists of research sources, memorandums, code of federal regulations, implementation of the 'common rule', executive orders, Location of DoD HRE, acronyms and abbreviations.

I finish off this review with PDF page 520 (and bottle of Bourbon - smile)
A Memo from Bill Clinton.

Truly… there was a necessity to release a memo with the following content:

February 17, 1994


SUBJECT: Review of Federal Policy for the Protection of Human Subjects

Federally funded biomedical and behavioral research has resulted in major advances in health care and improved the quality of life for all Americans. The pursuit of new knowledge in these fields of research often requires experiments that involve human subjects.
Although human subjects research is an essential element of biomedical and behavioral research, bioethical considerations must influence the design and conduct of such research.
Since 1947, when guidelines for research with human subjects were promulgated, there has been increasingly widespread recognition of the need for voluntary and informed consent and a scientifically valid design of experiments involving human subjects.
Over time, this recognition has evolved into a rigorous and formalized system of regulations and guidelines, which were codified in governmental policies on human subject research ,and were included in the former Department of Health, Education and welfare's regulations in 1974,45 C.F.R. 41i. In 1991, 16 agencies formally adopted the core of these regulations in a common Federal Policy for the Protection of Human Subjects.
This Policy requires that all research protocols involving human subjects be reviewed by an Institutional Review Board. This review ensures that
(1) risks are minimized and reasonable in relation to anticipated benefits;
(2) there is informed consent; and.
(3) the rights and welfare of the subjects are maintained (56 Fed. Reg. 28003 (June 18, 1991)
Although these regulations provide the framework for protecting human subjects in research, we must exercise constant care and ensure that these regulations are strictly enforced by departments and agencies. Therefore, I direct each department and agency of Government to review present practices to assure compliance with the Federal Policy for the Protection of Human Subjects and to cease immediately sponsoring or conducting any experiments involving humans that do not fully comply with the Federal Policy.

Archivist note: I’m not sure if Bill was bowing to public questioning at that time or if he realized a need to address the EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS AND AGENCIES with these policies?

Any feedback would be appreciated


[edit on 8-2-2008 by frozen_snowman]


[edit on 2/8/2008 by JacKatMtn]

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