- Mustard gas can cause not only burning and the irritation of the skin, but it can lead to conjunctivitis and even disrupt the production of blood cells in the human bone marrow.
- In the US, more than 60,000 soldiers were involved in testing various effects the mustard gas has on humans.
- The familiar name for mustard gas is Yperite, and it was named after a town Ypres (in Belgium), which was attacked by the German forces with mustard gas during World War I.
The Mustard Gas Experiments, better known as Rawalpindi Experiments, were a series of tests and trials that happened in a military base in Rawalpindi (today’s Pakistan). The British army forces and their scientific department, known as the Porton Down, conducted experiments on hundreds of soldiers from India, to investigate the effects of the Mustard gas on the human body, before and during the events of World War II.
What Is Mustard Gas
Mustard gas has been used as a chemical weapon in both World Wars, as well as in the battles between Iraq and Iran during the 1980s. Mustard gas is in a group of organic compounds that contains sulfur mustard (which goes by a familiar name of Yperite) and nitrogen mustard. When these compounds are in their gas form, their smell reminds of mustard and garlic, and even the color is similar, ranging from yellow to brown shades. In their purest form, when they are at room temperature, they appear as very thick and almost entirely odorless liquids.
First Experiments On People
The British ministry of home security was definitely worried because of the events that happened during World War I. They felt the need to know more about chemical weapons, something that almost everyone viewed as the future of warfare. The first experiments that involved human trials started in the early 1930s, and they continued for ten years. The Indian troops were at the time under British military command, and India was still a British colony. This fact alone is a huge issue and speaks of the way the colonizers treated the people whose countries they conquered. This is, in essence, a racial issue, as the soldiers the Porton Down team chose, were all Indian.
These tests proved the damage the mustard gas can do to a human being, especially if used in large amounts during a chemical attack. Some of the participants in the experiments left with severe burns, and many of them had to be put to the hospital due to the severity of the inflicted injuries. Also, the vast majority of troops who participated in the tests were in an awful physical condition, depressed and miserable. Some of the experiments were so extreme, and scientists wanted people to enter chambers full of gas without wearing any protective equipment.
Experiments in the US
During the 1940s, American troops were recruited by the Department of Defense because they wanted to test the effects of mustard gas on people and to develop a line of defense against it (meaning, upgrading clothing, gas-masks, and other military equipment). It is estimated how almost 60,000 people joined these experiments.
The large majority of the troops were just mildly exposed to the mustard gas, and those experiments looked like your standard allergy test, where only one drop of mustard gas was used in the so-called ‘’arm patch’’ tests. However, close to 4,000 US soldiers went through the experiment, as the attack with this gas actually happened. These soldiers were totally exposed to the effects of mustard gas, in simulations that occurred in various battlefield exercises.