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Release No: 441-97
August 28, 1997

Department of Defense Releases Report on Search for Human Radiation Experiment Records, 1944-1994

The Department of Defense today released its Report on Search for Human Radiation Experiment Records, 1944-1994. The report, prepared by the Radiation Experiments Command Center, details the Department's search for records of possible human radiation experiments, studies or projects conducted from 1944 to 1994, based on available DoD documents. The report is also in response to the Oct. 3, 1995, Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments (ACHRE) report to the President.

President Clinton established the ACHRE on Jan. 15, 1994, and directed the Department of Defense and other federal agencies to research their records for Human Radiation Experiments. An "experiment" was defined in the President's executive order as having three components: human participation, ionizing radiation and an "experimental" element. The Department of Defense chose to err on the side of inclusion and recorded the entire range of experiments/studies/projects it found. The Department of Defense chose to include 2,389 documented activities without regard to a distinction between an experiment, a study or a project so as to provide the fullest disclosure possible.

"Of note, although most of the above projects actually involved common and routine medical practices, in the spirit of openness, all are included in this report. Further, in cases where we have not been able to reconstruct full information from the old records, this fact is so noted with an explanation that more data will be provided in a subsequent report," Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen said in the forward to the report. The subsequent report is attached as Volume II.

Slightly less than 500 of these activities occurred between 1944 and 1974 and around 1,900 from 1975 to 1994. Most of the DoD-sponsored activities were related to medical treatment and limited to documenting patient responses. Many of the activities took place at universities or hospitals, and they are already available to the public in medical literature. The Department also conducted radiation-related research in connection with atmospheric nuclear weapons tests until 1962, when such tests ceased. Much of this information is also in open literature.

For activities prior to 1974, the report includes an abstract listing sponsor, location, procedure, and results and a list of documents relating to the activity. For activities after 1974, when a government-wide comprehensive policy requiring consent of all research subjects was established, only sponsors, locations and events resulting from multiple agency document searches are provided.

The Department of Defense acknowledges that there is no guarantee that every single DoD-sponsored or conducted human radiation activity has been identified and reported. The compilation of activities was based on archival searches by the military departments and DoD agencies. Some records were more than 50 years old, and many were not clearly identified as containing information on human use research, projects or studies. Some document collections had undergone routine records destruction, and others were incomplete.

The Radiation Experiment Command Center will continue to review records from 1944-1994. New information will be released to the public as it is acquired. Individuals concerned about potential involvement in DoD-sponsored Human Radiation Experiments may write directly to the Radiation Experiments Command Center, 6801 Telegraph Road, Alexandria, VA 22310-3398 or visit the Human Radiation Experiments web site at . Copies of the report can be obtained by contacting the U.S. Department of Commerce, Technology Administration, National Technical Information Service, Springfield, Va. 22161.

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