WINNIPEG, Manitoba, Aug. 24 -- Manitoba's top health official has concluded Wednesday that most Winnipeg residents exposed to U.S. Cold War-era chemical testing were not harmed, but he is calling for more tests to determine the effects on workers exposed to a known carcinogen. Health Minister Jim McCrae said he wants Winnipeg included in a proposed U.S. study of Minneapolis, St. Louis and Corpus Christi, the three other cities sprayed as part of a top secret 1953 experiment. The cities were sprayed several times with zinc cadmium sulfide to simulate chemical and biological warfare. Winnipeg, which had a population of 367,000 in 1953, was sprayed 36 times during a three week period. A Pentagon environmental health report issued last month concluded the Minneapolis tests 'should not have been assocated with any adverse health effects for residents' and said the cancer risks were well below acceptable risk levels determined by the Environmental Protection Agency. The Pentagon report did not examine the other cities used in the experiments, but a 1980 Canadian Department of National Defense study found the testing posed no health risks for Winnipeg residents. During the past month, Manitoba's Chief Medical Officer, Dr. John Guilfoyle, said he examined the literature available and discussed the matter with officials from other jurisdictions before concluding the average person exposed to the chemical has little cause for concern. But both he and Minister McCrae said they were concerned about the data provided by the U.S. and about workers involved with the chemical tests.
McCrae said since testing was done in secret and without any intention of public disclosure of the intent or results there was cause for concern. 'The data also does not specifically measure exposure to workers involved in the collection of samples downwind from the discharge site, which could mean workers were exposed to a high level of the chemical,' McCrae said. He said as a result, he's asked Senator Paul Wellstone of Minnesota to include Winnipeg in his proposed study. Wellstone is asking the U.S. Congress to fund an independent study to examine the health effects on residents of the U.S. cities that were sprayed.