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HREX Index

Human radiation experiments - taken from Wikipedia article 1

Dr. Joseph G. Hamilton was the primary researcher for the human plutonium experiments done at U.C. San Francisco from 1944 to 1947.[1] Hamilton wrote a memo in 1950 discouraging further human experiments because the AEC would be left open "to considerable criticism", since the experiments as proposed had "a little of the Buchenwald touch."[2]

*NB. 'Buchenwald' was a Nazi concentration camp.

"Many inmates died as a result of human experimentation ..." Source: Wikipedia: Buchenwald

Numerous human radiation experiments have been performed in the United States, many of which were funded by various U.S. government agencies[3] such as the United States Department of Defense and the United States Atomic Energy Commission. Experiments included, but were not limited to:

  • feeding radioactive material to mentally disabled children[4]
  • exposing U.S. soldiers and prisoners to high levels of radiation[4]
  • irradiating the testicles of prisoners, which caused severe birth defects[4]
  • exhuming bodies from graveyards to test them for radiation (without the consent of the families of the deceased)[5]

On January 15, 1994, President Bill Clinton formed the Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments (ACHRE), chaired by Ruth Faden, Ph.D., MPH[6] of the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics. One of the primary motivating factors behind his decision to create ACHRE was action taken by his newly appointed Secretary of Energy, Hazel O’Leary, J.D. One of her first actions on taking the reins of the Department of Energy was to announce a new openness policy for the Department. The policy led almost immediately to the release of over 1.6 million pages of classified records. The records made clear that since the 1940s the Atomic Energy Commission had been sponsoring tests on the effects of radiation on the human body. American citizens who had checked into hospitals for a variety of ailments were secretly injected with varying amounts of plutonium and other radioactive materials without their knowledge. Ebb Cade was an unwilling participant in medical experiments that involved injection of 4.7 micrograms of Plutonium on 10 April 1945 at Oak Ridge, Tennessee.[7][8] This experiment was under the supervision of Harold Hodge.[9] Most patients thought it was "just another injection", but the secret studies left enough radioactive material in many of the patients' bodies to induce life-threatening conditions. Such experiments were not limited to hospital patients, but included other populations such as those set out above, e.g., orphans fed irradiated milk, children injected with radioactive materials, prisoners in Washington and Oregon state prisons. Much of the experimentation was carried out in order to assess how the human body metabolizes radioactive materials, information that could be used by the Departments of Energy and Defense in Cold War defense / attack planning.

ACHRE's final report was also a factor in the Department of Energy establishing an Office of Human Radiation Experiments (OHRE) that assured publication of DOE’s involvement (by way of its predecessor, the AEC) in Cold War radiation research and experimentation on human subjects. The final report issued by the ACHRE can be found at the Department of Energy's website.



Harold Hodge The man who was involved in 'Nazi-style' experiments and was instrumental in the concept of water fluoridation.

Notes and references

  1. Moss, William; Eckhardt, Roger (1995). "The Human Plutonium Injection Experiments" (PDF). Los Alamos Science. Radiation Protection and the Human Radiation Experiments (23): 177–223. Retrieved 13 November 2012.
  2. "The Media & Me: [The Radiation Story No One Would Touch]", Geoffrey Sea, Columbia Journalism Review, March/April 1994.
  3. U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on Energy Conservation and Power. American Nuclear Guinea Pigs: Three Decades of Radiation Experiments on US. Citizens. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office.
  4. The Plutonium Files: America's secret medical experiments in the Cold War, by Eileen Welsome, Dial Press, c1999, New York, N.Y., ISBN 0-385-31402-7
  5. http://www.sehd.scot.nhs.uk/scotorgrev/Documents/Project%20Sunshine%20%20slippery%20slope.pdf
  6. http://www.bioethicsinstitute.org/mshome/?id=64
  7. Moss, William, and Roger Eckhardt. (1995). "The human plutonium injection experiments." Los Alamos Science. 23: 177-233.
  8. Openness, DOE. (June 1998). Human Radiation Experiments: ACHRE Report. Chapter 5: The Manhattan district Experiments; the first injection. Washington, DC. Superintendent of Documents US Government Printing Office.
  9. AEC no. UR-38, 1948 Quarterly Technical Report. More about ... Harold Hodge (of water fluoridation 'notoriety')