From Fri Aug 29 09:28:32 1997 Date: Wed, 27 Aug 1997 21:28:03 -0600 From: Paul Goettlich To: Subject: Pentagon releases report on human experiments
08/27/97 Pentagon releases report on human experiments By Charles Aldinger
WASHINGTON (Reuter) - The military said Wednesday that it had sponsored some2,400 studies and experiments on people, including radiation treatments onairmen and submarine crews, between 1944 and 1994. In one program, the Pentagon said in a new report, hundreds of Navy submarinecrewmen and then-Army Air Force personnel underwent radiation treatment for earand nasal problems and could develop further health problems as a result. The 625-page report was sent to Congress in the latest chapter of a controversyover secret and other U.S. government projects involving humans which began in1944, many to determine the effects of fallout from a nuclear war. The Pentagon report, ordered by President Clinton, included studies ranging fromlong-term effects of industrial use of radioactive materials to asthma-relatedheart problems in children. The report said hundreds of submariners and airmen were diagnosed with earproblems from depth and altitude in the 1940s and later and were treated withnasal applicators containing 50 milligrams of radium. Over a 20-year period from the 1940s to the 1960s, this was an acceptedmeans of treating swelling of lymphoid tissue to allow the tubes leading to theinner ear to drain. The Navy used it on at least 732 men involved in a 1940s study by researchersat the Submarine Medical Research Lagboratory in New London, Conn. At least 73have been identified through logs and the Veterans Administration is working oncontacting them. Hundreds of aimen in the Army Air Force, as it was known before 1947, undewentsimilar treatments. The Pentagon did not say what problems might arise from the treatments, butsuch radiation therapy has been subsequently shown to cause thyroid and otherproblems. Some of the 2,389 military projects listed in the long report included other,earlier-reported studies of radiation effects, and the department conceded againthat not all of the subjects were informed that they were taking part instudies. A presidential study panel said in 1995 that the Energy Department and itspredecessor, the Atomic Energy Commission, conducted Cold War experiments fromthe 1940s into the 1970s including on persons in hospitals and thousands ofuranium miners to explore the effects of radiation exposure. Some of those atomic energy studies included plutonium injections, andWednesday's report was in response to an order from Clinton for the Pentagon toprovide details of all military projects involving humans. Defense Secretary William Cohen said in a foreward to the department report thatmost of the military projects and studies over the 50-year period ending in 1994were ``common and routine medical practices'' but that all were listed ``in thespirit of openness.'' The report said said that some 500 projects were conducted between 1944 and 1974and about 1,900 between 1975 and 1994. Any tests currently underway are beingconducted under strict federal supervision and will the full knowledge of testsubjects, officials say. The presidential study committee said in 1995 that while most of theprevious government studies were done for proper medical reasons, the governmentshould still compensate some subjects of tests it said were unethical anddeceptive. The White House announced in March of this year that it had reached settlementstotaling $6.5 million with 16 people who were injected with radioactive materialduring the period and who were not informed they were part of a government test. The government has had a program to compensate uranium miners who sufferedlung cancer and lung diseases and the administration has pushed to expand thatprogram to compensate additional miners or their families with $50 million over15 years.