. "3 History and Analysis of Mustard Agent and Lewisite Research Programs in the United States." Veterans at Risk: The Health Effects of Mustard Gas and Lewisite. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 1993.
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Veterans at Risk: The Health Effects of Mustard Gas and Lewisite
the period between 1946 and 1950, and by the time research in chemical and biological weapons was revitalized in the 1950s, military priorities had shifted to agents perceived to pose greater threats than sulfur mustard or Lewisite. For example, improvements to early nerve gases developed in WWII gave new importance to the development of antidotes to nerve agents. Chemicals with intense psychoactive properties, such as lysergic acid diethylamide (the hallucinogen LSD) and phencyclidine (PCP, known on the street as "angel dust") were also of special interest. Most of this research was done at or supervised by personnel from Edgewood Arsenal; it involved approximately 6,700 human subjects between 1950 and 1975. Only a few projects tested sulfur mustard or Lewisite.
Other groups that participated in this research included the Central Intelligence Agency and the Special Operations Division of the Department of the Army (Taylor and Johnson, 1975). As has been documented in numerous government and popular press publications, abuses of human subjects in these research programs began to emerge almost as soon as the projects were begun but were largely covered up until the early 1970s (Harris and Paxman, 1982; Taylor and Johnson, 1975; see also Appendix F). Finally, congressional hearings into these abuses in 1974 and 1975 resulted in fuller disclosures, eventual notification of all subjects as to the nature of their chemical exposures, and compensation of a few families of those who had died while serving as human subjects in these projects (Harris and Paxman, 1982; Taylor and Johnson, 1975).
As part of its effort to rectify the abuses discovered, the Department of the Army asked the National Research Council to assess the likelihood of long-term health consequences of exposure to the chemicals tested and to report on the current health status of the soldiers who participated in the 1950-1975 testing programs. The resulting study was published in three volumes in 1982, 1984, and 1985. The vast majority of these test subjects, however, had been exposed to nerve agents or hallucinogenic drugs. In the 1984 volume, the NRC committee reported that only 150 individuals had been exposed to vesicants. In a section on vesicants, no conclusions were drawn for Lewisite on the basis of scanty information; for sulfur mustard, however, the group concluded:
Mustard gas is mutagenic in various organisms and test systems. One cannot readily predict the degree of genetic risk that it poses for man, however, because data on its mutagenicity in mammalian germ cells are very limited, and the mutagenic potency of mustards varies considerably among assay systems. Nevertheless, the available evidence suggests that the possibility of mutagenic effects of mustard gas in human germ cells should not be disregarded. The clear muta-