By Tom Dare
AN UNBELIEVABLE video showing biological gas masks being tested on schoolchildren by government scientists with live organisms has re-emerged this week, painting a disturbing picture of life in the nuclear age.
The unsettling footage, shot in 1960, shows a classroom full of children no older than ten being given a lecture about the biohazard masks by a visitor. The youngsters, who are themselves the children of soldiers, are then lead into a chamber where the mask’s effectiveness is tested using a potentially deadly mix of microbial organisms.
The children stay in the chamber for ten minutes before being removed, with the narrator noting that “a concentration much greater than could be reasonably expected during any biological attack,” is being tested on them. The insides of their masks are then tested for any signs of leakage afterward.
During this period of the Cold War, the United States was eager to ensure that every eventuality was prepared for, with biological warfare still being explored on both sides of the conflict.
Many at the top levels of government thought it possible, and indeed probable, that an attack would take the form of a deadly airborne pathogen that would quickly spread and cause unimaginable suffering for millions of people.
As such, the government was determined to make sure every man, woman and child was prepared for this eventuality. It designed six sizes of biohazard masks, and reasoned that the best way to discover whether their sizes suited everyone was to try them out on children.
Prior to being placed in the gas chamber each child had their head measured to find a suitable size, with the straps being adjusted accordingly. The masks were also sprayed with banana oil to ensure they did not leak. If the chemical, which is renowned for being particularly pungent, could not be smelt by the children, then the masks were deemed to fit properly.
Luckily there was never any need for the masks in mainland America, though scientists believed that if the U.S. were to have been the victim of a biological attack that people would have been safe.