The Shocking Secret Human Experiments of Edgewood Arsenal
Nestled within the beautiful views and idyllic setting of Chesapeake Bay, Maryland, there hides a tremendously shocking secret. It is a secret so terrible that when America found out, it resulted in public scorn and a bevy of lawsuits. Today, the secret is known as the Edgewood Arsenal Human Experiments.
It is the 1950s, and the Cold War has just begun. The United States of America has just won itself the status of superpower and is engaged in a silent yet deadly war against Russia and Communism. Troops are in South Korea and Vietnam, and the CIA has just engaged in their deadly game of espionage. Americans went about their daily lives, oblivious to the fact that upon human soil, their fellow countrymen, soldiers who signed up to fight the good fight and protect their homeland, were being used as human experiments for deadly chemicals and drugs. This was in a secluded research center tucked somewhere on Chesapeake Bay in Maryland known as Edgewood Arsenal.
Brought about by the fear of attack during the period of the Nuclear Arms Race, the US Army Chemical corps began a series of medical studies to analyze the impact of chemical warfare agents on military personnel to test vaccines, pharmaceuticals, and protective equipment.
The road to hell is paved with good intentions, and the US government approved this project with the goal of protecting the people of America. They began by recruiting soldiers and telling them that all they had to do was test equipment, but these soldiers later found out that they were used as nothing more than guinea pigs. Around seven thousand of these soldiers joined these experiments and were exposed to more than almost three hundred chemicals. They did not make a long-term follow-up plan.
Taking place between 1948 and 1975, many human experiments here were filmed, including cruel animal testing prior to testing on humans. The subjects’ faces were forced into machinery to get blasted with chemicals that caused psychosis and mind-altering drugs. They were never told what chemicals were used on them and were repeatedly told not to ask questions. These soldiers suffered from these experiments, and although some might have escaped unharmed, many are left to the devastating consequences.
Sarin, atropine, scopolamine, LSD, PCPC, cannabinoids, as well as alcohol and caffeine were repeatedly used on the volunteers in Edgewood. The use of these nerve gas agents and psychochemicals were illegal especially when it lacked consent from the volunteers.
These experiments were kept highly secret but began to leak after many former test subjects complained of health problems. This prompted the US Congress to begin an investigation for possible abuses and the inadequate informed consent given to those involved. Edgewood was shut down in the mid-seventies after public outrage. Unfortunately, even to this day, there is a refusal in the part of the Army to provide healthcare or compensation for their heinous crimes.
Who knows if in other parts of the United States have such hidden and evil government secrets? All we know is that this was a dark mark on the modern history of Maryland and hopefully the last.
US Department of Veterans Affairs. 2017. “Edgewood/Aberdeen Experiments. Last modified March 28, 2017. Accessed April 3, 2017. https://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/edgewood-aberdeen/index.asp.