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US Biological Weapon Testing

The United States government performed experiments related to biological warfare on consenting and non-consenting military personnel and occasionally civilians, especially during the Cold War. President Richard Nixon decided to officially end the U.S. biological weapons program in 1969, but tests continued past this date because they were considered defensive in nature.

Additional recommended knowledge


Experiments on consenting individuals

Operation Whitecoat involved the controlled testing of many serious agents on military personnel who did consent to experimentation, and understood the risks involved. No deaths are known to have resulted from this program.

Experiments on non-consenting individuals

In August of 1949 a U.S. Army Special Operations Division, operating out of Fort Detrick in Maryland, set up its first test at The Pentagon in Washington, D.C. Operatives sprayed harmless bacteria into the building's air conditioning system and observed as the microbes spread throughout the Pentagon.[1]

There were massive medical experiments that involved civilians who had not consented to participate. Often, these experiments took place in urban areas in order to test dispersion methods. Questions were raised about detrimental health effects after experiments in San Francisco, California, were followed by a spike in hospital visits; however, in 1977 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention determined that there was no association between the testing and the occurrence of pneumonia or influenza.[2]

The San Francisco test involved a U.S. Navy ship that sprayed Serratia marcescens from the bay; it traveled more than 30 miles.[2]

One dispersion test involved laboratory personnel disguised as passengers spraying harmless bacteria in Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.[2]

Scientists tested biological pathogens, including Bacillus globigii, which were thought to be harmless, at public places such as subways. A light bulb containing Bacillus globigii was dropped on New York City's subway system; the result was strong enough to affect people prone to illness (also known as Subway Experiment).[3] Based on the circulation measurements, thousands of people would have been killed if a dangerous microbe was released in the same manner.[2]

A jet aircraft released material over Victoria, texas, that was monitored in the Florida Keys.[2]

See also


  1. ^ Timeline: Biological Weapons. American Experience (15-12-2006). Retrieved on 2007-04-09.
  2. ^ a b c d e Biological Weapons-United States. Global Retrieved on 2007-04-09.
  3. ^ "Hidden history of US germ testing", BBC, 2006-02-13. Retrieved on 08-04-2007. 

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "US_Biological_Weapon_Testing". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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