Fluoride Action Network

The Deepwater Documents: Lawsuit Against the US Bomb Program Over Fluoride Poisoning

by Fluoride Action Network
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  • In their award winning article, “Fluoride, Teeth, and the Atomic Bomb” journalists Chris Bryson and Joel Griffiths discussed how “the first lawsuits against the U.S. A-bomb program were not over radiation, but over fluoride damage.” The lawsuits were filed by a group of farmers in southern New Jersey, whose peach orchards were destroyed, and whose animals were made sick, by heavy fluoride emissions from a nearby DuPont factory. The DuPont factory, located in Deepwater New Jersey, was doing contract work for the US Government, and was producing a vast amount of fluoride to keep up with the Government’s increasing demand.

    According to Bryson and Griffiths (1997):

    “at the height of World War II … a severe pollution incident occurred downwind of the E.I. du Pont du Nemours Company chemical factory in Deepwater, New Jersey. The factory was then producing millions of pounds of fluoride for the Manhattan project, the ultra-secret U.S. military program racing to produce the world’s first atomic bomb.The farms downwind in Gloucester and Salem counties were famous for their high-quality produce — their peaches went directly to the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York. Their tomatoes were bought up by Campbell’s Soup.But in the summer of 1943, the farmers began to report that their crops were blighted, and that “something is burning up the peach crops around here.”Poultry died after an all-night thunderstorm, they reported. Farm workers who ate the produce they had picked sometimes vomited all night and into the next day. “I remember our horses looked sick and were too stiff to work,” these reporters were told by Mildred Giordano, who was a teenager at the time. Some cows were so crippled they could not stand up, and grazed by crawling on their bellies.”

    The Fluoride Action Network has reproduced below the declassified government documents concerning the Deepwater lawsuits cited by Bryson and Griffiths. (Commentary by FAN is included in italics.)


    In this letter, the Director of the Manhattan Project, General Leslie Groves, explains the importance to the government of the Deepwater lawsuit. The letter is to Brian McMahon, the Chairman at the time of the Senate Special Committee on Atomic Energy. In the letter, Groves informs McMahon that the Department of Justice is “cooperating in the defense of these suits” and that the Department of Agriculture, the Chemical Warfare Service and a section of the Manhattan Project, was engaged in “extensive investigation to determine the cause or causes” of the peach orchard poisoning.


    WAR DEPARTMENT
    P.O. BOX 2610
    WASHINGTON, D.C.

    February 18, 1946

    Senator Brian McMahon, Chairman
    Special Committee on Atomic Energy
    United States Senate
    Washington, D.C.

    Dear Senator McMahon

    I have your letter of 14 February 196 with inclosures received from Mr. Willard B. Kille of swedesboro, New Jersey.

    The matter discussed in Mr. Kille’s letter and in the attached papers has been under investigation by this office for several months as a result of twelve suits filed against du Pont Company by owners of peach orchards in South Jersey. The plaintiffs allege that poisonous gases from the du Pont and other plants in the area caused almost total destruction of their 1944 peach crop and permanent injury to their peach trees. The damage sought aggregate approximately $400,000.

    The Government is interested in the outcome of the suits mentioned above since a nearby plant of the du Pont Company is engaged in manufacturing certain basic materials for use in the Manhattan Project. If the plaintiffs succeed in establishing that all or part of the damage alleged was caused by the du Pont plants operating for the Manhattan Project, the Government would be required under its contract to reimburse that company for the amount of such recovery properly attributable to such operations. The firm of Samuel P. Sadtler, consulting chemists of Philadelphia, whose report was inclosed with Mr. Kille’s letter, has been retained by the plaintiffs and will presumably submit expert testimony during the trial on their behalf.

    The Department of Justice is cooperating in the defense of these suits. The Department of Agriculture, the Bureau of Standards, the Chemical Warfare Service and a group under Colonel Stafford Warren of this organization have been engaged in extensive investigations and experiments to determine the cause or causes behind the damage complained of. This work is not yet completed but it is hoped that the reports on these studies will be available in the very near future. I do not believe it would be of any value to your committee to have Mr. Kille appear before it.

    I was represented at the meeting mentioned by Mr. Kille which was held on February 1, 1946 at Woodbury, New Jersey. I am keeping in close personal touch with the matter from day to day in order that I may be personally certain that while the Government’s interests are protected no advantage is taken of any injured farmer.

    If there is any additional information which you may desire and which is available to me I shall, of course, be very glad to furnish it. The inclosure with your letter are returned herewith.

    Sincerely yours,

    L.R. GROVES
    Major General, USA.

    4 Incls.:
    1–Ltr dtd 2/6/46 to
    Sen McMahon fr W.B. Kille
    2–Statement of W.B. Kille (cpy)
    3–Report of Fluorine by
    S.P. Sadtler & Son, Inc. (cpy)
    4–Ltr dtd 1/11/46 to Cong
    Wolverton fr W.B. Kille (cpy)


    This memorandum from Colonel Cooper B. Rhodes, concerns a meeting of representatives from DuPont, the Department of Agriculture, the Manhattan Project, and the Chemical Warfare Service — all of which were trying to obtain evidence which would be useful in protecting the interests of the Government.


    2 May 1946

    MEMORANDUM FOR THE FILES.

    Subject: Peach Crop Cases (Kille et al vs. du Pont).

    1. On 1 May 1946 the undersigned attended a meeting held in Penns Grove, New Jersey. In attendance at that meeting were representatives of several of the agencies which are making scientific investigations to obtain evidence which may be used to protect the interests of the Government at the trial of the suits brought by owners of peach orchards in Salem County, New Jersey. The purpose of this meeting was to permit those agencies to coordinate their activities and keep each other informed of their progress. The following individuals attended the meeting:

    Dr. M.A. McCall, Department of Agriculture
    Dr. B.B. Bayle, Department of Agriculture
    Mr. S.W. Griffin, Department of Agriculture
    Mr. W.D. Robinson, Department of Agriculture
    Major R. I. Fox, Chemical Warfare Service
    Mr. George B. Wilson, Chemical Warfare Service
    Lt. Roy E. Ballard, Chemical Warfare Service
    Dr. Harold C. Hodge, University of Rochester
    Mr. Marion Voss, University of Rochester
    Mr. Frank Smith, University of Rochester
    Dr. R.A. Dunphy, Kinetic Chemical Inc. (du Pont)
    Dr. R.J. Ackart, Medical Department, Chambers Works, du Pont
    Mr. J. Wilson [illegible], Kinetic Chemical, Inc
    Captain George L. Ryan, Area Engineer, Wilmington Area, MED
    Lt. Colonel C. H. Rhodes, Manhattan District

    2. The meeting was held in the YMCA building at Penns Grove and began at 10:30 a.m. The discussion lasted for approximately three hours, and indicated that the investigation are proceeding satisfactorily, with one exception which is noted below. In the afternoon, visits were made to several of the testing stations being operated by the Chemical Warfare Service for the purpose of obtaining and analyzing air samples at various points in the affected area.

    3. It was reported that considerable difficulty is being experienced in finding satisfactory procedure for making the atmospheric analyses. It has been found that the methods heretofore employed are not as accurate as is considered desirable. Further research in this field will be made by the Chemical Warfare Service in an effort to develop better procedures, provided that agency is successful in obtaining the services of an individual qualified to do the research.

    4. Because of complaints to the effect that animals and humans have been injured by HF fumes in that area, although there are no pending suits involving such claims, the University of Rochester is conducting experiments to determine the toxic effect of fluorine and to develop accurate methods of analyzing blood to determine its fluorine content. This work is proceeding satisfactorily.

    5. Dr. McCall reported that the Department of Agriculture will not be able to submit a report from definite conclusions can be drawn until the end of the coming summer when it will be complete and will continue to be collected during the season. Dr. McCall stated that he is still convinced that the evidence which will finally be collected will point to the fact that [illegible] fumes that may have emanated from the Chambers Works at Deepwater Point contributed only slightly, if at all, to the damage alleged to have been done to the peach orchards. He suggested, as a desirable field for additional research, that precipitation in that area be analyzed.

    6. Scientists of the du Pont company are conducting experiments which generally parallel those being conducted by the Department of Agriculture.

    7. It is believed that a similar meeting will be held about a month or six weeks hence.

    Signed

    Cooper B. Rhodes
    Lt. Colonel, Infantry

    cc. General Groves
    General Nichols


    In this letter, Lt. Colonel Cooper B. Rhodes, discusses a meeting held in Washington D.C. with Dr.W.H. White, who was the Chief of the Food Division at the FDA. The FDA at the time was planning on banning the sale of produce from the Deepwater area, because of the excessively high levels of fluoride found in the local fruit and vegetables.

    At this meeting, a DuPont lawyer, Mr. Geuther, and a Captain from the Manhattan Project, Captain Davies, lobbied the FDA Chief not to enact the ban on the contaminated produce. DuPont lawyer, Mr. Geuther, stressed that the contrabanding of produce “would create a bad public relations situation” while Captain Davies “impressed upon Dr. White the substantial interest which the Government had in claims which might arise as a result of action which might be taken by the Food and Drug Administration.”

    The FDA never did take action to ban the sale of produce from the area.


    File

    13 February 1946

    Lt. Col. Cooper B. Rhodes

    Kille et al (12 separate cases) vs. E. I. du Pont
    de Nemours & Co., Inc. et al (Peach Crop Cases)

    1. On 12 February 1946 Lt. Col. Cooper R. Rhodes and Captain John L. Davies, Jr. attended a conference in Washington, D.C., at the office of Dr. W.H. White, Chief of the Food Division of the Food and Drug Administration. This conference was requested by Mr. C.E. Geuther of E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co., Inc. and was arranged by Captain Davies through Dr. M.A. McCall of the Department of Agriculture. A list of those who attended the conference is attached hereto.

    2. At the opening of the conference Mr. Geuther stated the position of E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co., Inc. with respect to threatened action by the Food and Drug Administration. He stated that in view of the pending suits filed by owners of peach orchards, any action by the Food and Drug Administration condemning or contrabanding vegetable produce grown in that part of New Jersey would have a serious effect on the du Pont Company and would create a bad public relations situation for that company. He stated that although the du Pont Company did not admit that the fluorine content of vegetables grown in that area was in any way attributable to activities or operations of the du Pont Company, that company was taking steps to eliminate entirely the present small amount of HF which is now being discharged into the atmosphere by the Chambers Works. Mr. Geuther offered to the Food and Drug Administration the services of du Pont Company scientists and offered to make available the results of investigations and experiments made by those scientists, and stated that it was the desire of the du Pont Company to cooperate with the Food and Drug Administration in an effort to ascertain the true facts with respect to the presence of fluorine in the vegetables produced in that area and the cause therefor.

    3. Dr. White explained the position of the Food and Drug Administration. He stated that that agency was not primarily interested in ascertaining the cause or source of the fluoride found in the vegetables and that its investigation could go no further than the determination of the presence and amount of fluorine in the vegetables which might be shipped in interstate commerce. The job of his office, he stated, is to prevent the shipment of fruits and vegetables having excessive fluorine content.

    4. Dr. C.O. Henke, of E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co., Inc. and Dr. P.W. Zimmerman, of Boyce-Thompson Institute, reviewed the investigation and surveys which had been conducted, and those which are now in progress, by and for the du Pont company.

    5. There followed a lengthy discussion among the scientists present concerning the toxic effects of fluorine in its various forms and methods of determining the presence and amount of fluorine in the atmosphere and in vegetable matter. There was also some discussion as to the amount of fluoride which could be allowed in fruits and vegetables without likelihood of injury to customers. No definite statement was made by officials of the Pure Food and Drug Administration as to the limit of tolerance which would be set by that agency for the fluorine content of produce from the area under consideration.

    6. After the meeting adjourned Captain Davies informed Dr. White of the position of the Manhattan Engineer District with respect to this problem and stated that it is the desire of this office to cooperate with the Food and Drug Administration in determining the true facts and arriving at a proper decision. He impressed upon Dr. White the substantial interest which the Government had in claims which might arise as a result of action which might be taken by the Food and Drug Administration. During this conversation Dr. White disclosed the fact that the investigation made by the Food and Drug Administration was instituted as a result of information supplied by Mr. S.P. Sadtler, Jr.

    Cooper B. Rhodes

    Incl.:
    List, 12 Feb 46

    cc: Major General L.R. Groves, w/cy incl.
    Brig. General K.D. Nichols, w/cy incl.
    Colonel E.E. Kirkpatrick, w/cy incl.
    Area Engineer, Wilmington Area, w/cy incl.
    District Office Legal Section (Attn. Mr. E. Diamond), w/cy incl.


    The following is the list of people who attended the above mentioned meeting with the FDA Food Division Chief, Dr. W.H. White.


    CONFERENCE ON FLUORIDE RESIDUES

    February 12, 1946

    Carl Voegtlin, University of Rochester
    Captain Fred A. Bryan, Manhattan Engineer District
    Dr. H.E. Stokinger, Manhattan, Rochester Area
    O.G. Fitsburgh (sp?), Pharmacology Division, Food & Drug Administration
    Harold C. Hodge, University of Rochester School Med. & Dent.
    B.J. Voss, Pharmacology Division, Food & Drug Administration
    E.P. Lang, Pharmacology Division, Food & Drug Administration
    P.W. Zimmerman, Consultant DuPont, BTL
    R.A. Dunphy, DuPont Company
    C.O. Henke, DuPont Company
    Hugh K. Clark, DuPont Company
    L.M. Beacham, Food Division, Food & Drug Administration
    G. Woodward, Pharmacology Division, Food & Drug Administration
    J.M. Coon, Pharmacology Division, Food & Drug Administration
    Carl E. Genther, DuPont Company
    W.B. White, Chief Food Division, Food and Drug Administration
    Captain B.J. Mears, Med. Corps, Manhattan District
    M.A. McCall, Plant Industry, Soils & Agr. Engineering, Dept. Agr.
    S.W. Griffin, Plant Industry, Soils & Agr. Engineering, Dept. Agr.
    H.J. Wichmann, Food Division, Food &Drug Administration
    Lt. Col. Cooper B. Rhodes, Manhattan Engineer District
    Captain J.L. Davies, Manhattan Engineer District


    The following letter provides notes on the above-mentioned meeting with the FDA.


    The University of Rochester
    School of Medicine and Dentistry
    Strong Memorial Hospital
    Rochester, New York

    March 1, 1946

    Colonel Stafford L. Warren
    U.S. Engineer Office
    Manhattan District ex
    P.O. Box E
    Oak Ridge, Tennessee

    Dear Colonel Warren:

    The following are noted from a memorandum from Dr. Herbert E. Stokinger concerning the meeting held in Dr. White’s Office, Department of Agriculture Building, Division of Pure Food and Drugs, on 12 February 1946 at 1:00 P.M.

    “Twenty-one persons were present including representatives of duPont’s legal and chemical staffs, a representative of the Boyce Thompson Institute for plant research, a representative of the Departments of Pharmacology and Analytical Chemistry of the Pure Food and Drug Administration, and a number of representatives from the Manhattan District.

    Mr. Geuther, a legal representative of dupont, stated the problem briefly. Certain samples of produce from soils in certain sections of New Jersey surrounding duPont’s plant have been found to possess sufficiently high fluoride content to incur an embargo on future produced from the area, presumably next summer’s crop. The purpose of the meeting, he stated, was to present facts relating to this possible soil contamination.

    Suits have been filed against his company charging destruction of last year’s (1944) peach crop as well as that of the fruit-bearing trees. Tests made over peach orchards of the air, conducted at periodic intervals through all sorts of weather conditions have revealed mere traces of the fluoride in the atmosphere in an area in the Pennsylvania hills. The factory has taken steps to control as completely as possible all hydrogen fluoride effluents. The maximum possible loss from the flues into the air is calculated to be no larger than 280 lbs. Per day, at a capacity of the plant out-put. DuPont dislikes the possible psychologic reaction to this situation and is anxious to take all possible steps to determine the source of the trouble. Mr. Geuther raised the question that the product limits of fluorine were too low.

    Another duPont representative, Dr. Henckey, expanded on remarks made by Mr. Geuther. Production of hydrogen fluoride is a fifteen-year old process, but amounts have increased, perhaps doubled, in 1944 and 1945 over that in 1942 and 1943. On the other hand the plant claims better methods of handling. In addition, none of the personnel has suffered noticeable effects during the fifteen years, even with poorer methods of handling, in the past. Accordingly, the complaints of peach crop damage are surprising.

    Question – Dr. White – ‘How high are the hydrogen fluoride stacks?’
    Answer – ‘Approximately 70 feet wooden stacks are used’.

    Dr. Perone, New Jersey State Agriculture, said the orchards were approximately six miles from the plant separated by many small towns. The method of Willard and Winter was used for analysis of fluorine.

    Boyce Thompson representative had carried out tests of absorption of fluoride compounds by water plants grown in fluoride-containing soil and concluded that plants could take up enough fluoride to damage leaves either by removing it from the soil or from the air. Also plants were able to expire fluorine into the air. He has shown that fluorine may be stored in leaves of certain plants, possibly selectively to the extent of 1000 ppm. Whether fluorine is essential to plants is unknown.

    Dr. White – ‘Analyses of food have been made countrywide. Extremely small amounts were found. Surprising that so much was found in the produce in this area.’ Normally, tomatoes that have been analyzed – 0.6 to 0.9 ppm. Although complex, Dr. White pointed out that tea that possesses a high fluoride content is largely elutable. The Pure Food and Drug Administration intends to watch the tomato for child consumption. It is a rare exception to find fluoride in amounts greater than 2 ppm. These values have been found on produce taken from a Philadelphia area (near DuPont). Samples were taken from the open market. For example, unsprayed cabbage contained 0.5 ppm.

    Capt. Davies – ‘Analyses of region for fluoride checked those of DuPont, 0.003 – 0.004 ppm irrespective of wind direction.’

    Pure Food and Drug representative questioned whether considerable amounts of fluoride may be un-ionized and thereby go undetected by the procedure of analysis used.

    Answer – ‘Freon can be breathed freely as well as others and is relatively non-toxic.’

    Question – ‘Will plants absorb freon and will it appear as fluoride?’
    Answer – ‘Unknown.’

    Dr. White – suggests considerable may happen to such organically free fluoride to change the nature to make fluoride absorbable by plants, for example, the effects of weathering, ultra-violet light, etc. Recent analyses of crops, he divulged, growing in the area under question showed the following: celery – 17 ppm; spinach – 7 ppm.

    Question – by Dr. Bryan – soil content of fluoride.
    Answer – by Dr. McCall – ‘Soil content differs according to the type, sandy soil low, clay soil higher. Decreased in amount with depth, for example, 107, 58, 38 ppm. 2 1/2 miles northeast of plant fluoride was 85 ppm. No values found in this region were excessive. The addition of fertilizers, superphosphates containing fluoride, only increased the fluoride content of soil from about 45 to 55 ppm.

    DuPont representative – DuPont going to analyze plants and produce in the region for fluoride.

    Question – ‘Are present standards to be used for confiscating foods?’
    Answer – ‘No. Chief factors are toxic potentialities of fluoride-containing foods.’

    Pure Food and Drug pharmacologist said 3-4 ppm of fluoride in food is potentially harmful producing fluorosis. This factor is sufficient for condemnation of food irrespective of other signs of toxicity. The amount of daily serving of food, however, is a factor. For example, tomato juice with 30 ppm fluoride consumed daily by children is sufficient to give mottled enamel.

    (Reference to fluoride survey of foods AOAC 28, 27)

    Question – Dr. Hodge – ‘Is cryolite used as a spray?’
    Answer – ‘Perhaps used on apples but not now used extensively. Pyrethrum and rotenone used chiefly.’ (DuPont representative)

    Question – Dr. Hodge – ‘Which plants and vegetables are analyzed?’
    Answer – ‘Celery northwest of Philadelphia, tomato leaves, peach leaves.’

    Question – Dr. Stokinger – ‘How large a sample of air was used for the measurement of fluoride-content?’
    Answer – ’35 cu.ft. (1 cu. meter)’.

    Question – Dr. Hodge – ‘Was no difficulty experienced in absolving the sample of air completely of fluorine?’.
    Answer – DuPont Representative – ‘Some difficulty was experienced but sufficiently good recoveries were retained by the addition of sodium bicarbonate.’

    It was calculated by Stokinger, assuming the correctness of the value 289 lbs hydrogen fluoride loss per day, in 3 years time, only 20 micrograms would be absorbed in one cubic foot of a 35-square-mile area, a value far too low to increase in any perceptible manner the fluoride content of produce from such soil. This rough calculation assumed also complete absorbability of the soil of the hydrogen fluoride in the air.

    Signed H.E. Stokinger

    Sincerely yours,

    Andrew H. Dowdy, M.D.
    Director
    Manhattan Department


    The following is a letter from Harold Hodge, also discussing the FDA meeting. Hodge, a Manhattan Project scientist who would become one of the key scientific figures promoting the safety of fluoridation, played an active role in this lawsuit. Hodge was soon to head up Program F, the Government’s secret fluoride research program, whose self-declared purpose was “to supply evidence useful in the litigation arising from an alleged loss of a fruit crop several years ago. Since excessive blood fluoride levels were reported in human residents of the same area, our principal effort has been devoted to describing the relationship of blood fluorides to toxic effects.”


    The University of Rochester
    School of Medicine and Dentistry
    Strong Memorial Hospital
    Rochester, New York

    March 1, 1946

    Colonel Stafford L. Warren
    U.S. Engineer Office
    Manhattan District ex
    P.O. Box E
    Oak Ridge, Tennessee

    Dear Colonel Warren:

    The following Remarks are noted from a memorandum from Dr. Harold C. Hodge concerning the meeting held in the Department of Agriculture Building, Washington, D.C. Tuesday afternoon, 12 February, attended by those on the appended list.

    “A discussion was opened on the problems associated with the question of fluorine contamination of the atmosphere in a certain section of New Jersey. There seemed to be four distinct (although related) problems as follows:

    1. A question of injury of the peach crop in 1944.
    2. A report of extraordinary fluoride content of vegetables grown in this area.
    3. A report of abnormally high fluoride content in the blood of human individuals residing in this area.
    4. A report raising the questions of serious poisoning of horses and cattle in this area.

    Supplementary Conference in Rochester. Colonel Rhodes and Captain Davies, Dr. Voegtlin, Dr. Stokinger, Dr. Spiegel, Dr. Smith, Sgt. Murphy and I discussed preliminary experiments and tests to shed light on the purported relationship of fluorine released as H.F. to the four problems stated above. The following suggestions were made:

    1. Relative to the peach crop. Is it possible to demonstrate that the F content of air was insufficient to hurt peaches? We would be interested in going over Zimmerman’s data to see how much data he has.

    Dr. Stokinger suggested a calculation of the total available fluorine per square foot of ground area assuming that the known fluorine output was equally distributed.

    2. The question seems to be what is the source of the fluorine in the vegetables.

    a. The F content of the vegetables should be checked in several ways. First, samples of vegetables might be divided so that Dr. Dunphy, Dr. Wichman and our laboratory analyzed aliquots of the same vegetable sample. Each of the three laboratories should also conduct analyses in which small amounts of fluorine, say of the order of the total F content as determined by analysis, were added to the vegetable sample and recovery analyses made.

    It might be well to carry out separate collections of vegetables for analyses by the Rochester laboratory.

    b. The F content of surface soils in the area should be determined.

    c. The Fluorine content of ground water, cistern water, and well water should be determined also. It is possible that the state water laboratory has data. Dr. Spiegel suggested that the standard pubic health methods of water collection should be used.

    3. The problem of the abnormally high human blood fluoride levels.

    a. Blood should be obtained from other humans living in this area and fluoride determinations run. Dr. Smith will begin a practice of analysis of blood samples to find what the limits and percentage recoveries are.

    b. If urine samples can be obtained from persons living in this area we can fix with a fair degree of certainty the total fluoride exposure of these individuals. Since we are already doing fluoride analyses, the containers and procedures for collecting samples can be employed by customary procedures.

    c. Rats, and later perhaps rabbits and a dog or two, can be exposed to various levels of HF starting at 20-30 mg/m3 to find what level of HF inhaled air will produce blood levels such as those reported for humans residing in the areas.

    d. The fluoride blood levels can also be obtained following administration of sodium fluoride or calcium fluoride, or other compounds, by mouth or by vein.

    Signed: Harold C. Hodge”

    Sincerely yours,

    Andrew Dowdy, M.D.
    Director
    Manhattan Department

    cc: Area Engineer
    Lt. Colonel Rhodes


    The following is a request from the New Jersey farmers’ lawyer, William Gotshalk, to obtain information from the Government on how much fluoride the Deepwater DuPont plant was handling. Such information was essential for the success of the farmers’ lawsuit – particularly since the Government was relying on the highly dubious assertion that the destruction of the crops was caused by other sources of fluoride in the area, and not DuPont. As Harold Hodge was to state in a letter to Col. Stafford Warren, “we wished not to controvert data on the F content of plants, but to show doubt as to the origin of the F on the plants.”

    This being the case, a comparison of the levels of fluoride being handled by the DuPont facility versus the other sources cited by the government was essential in order to enable the farmers to cut through the Government’s obfuscation.

    The Government, however, refused to provide them with the data – based on the excuse that national security would be threatened were they to do so.

    However, as internal documents from the Atomic Energy Commission have revealed, such claims of “protecting national security” were frequently used by the Government for reasons other than national security – namely, to ward off liability and prevent embarrassing information from reaching the public.

    Pulitzer Prize winning author, Eileen Welsome, in her book The Plutonium Files, discusses the Government’s tactic of using claims of national security to protect itself from lawsuits and bad PR. She cites as evidence the following internal memo from the AEC:

    There are are a number of papers which do not violate security, but do cause considerable concern to the Atomic Energy Commission Insurance Branch and may well compromise the public prestige and best interests of the Commission. Papers referring to levels of soil and water contamination surrounding Atomic Energy Commission installations, idle speculation on the future genetic effects of radiation and papers dealing with potential process hazards to employees are definitely prejudicial to the best interests of the government. Every such release is reflected in an increase in insurance claims, increased difficulty in labor relations and adverse public sentiment. Following consultation with the Atomic Energy Commission Insurance Branch, the following declassification criteria appears desirable. If specific locations or activities of the Atomic Energy Commission and/or its contractors are closely associated with statements and information which would invite or tend to encourage claims against the Atomic Energy Commission or its contractors, such portions of articles to be published should be reworded or deleted.

    Now for the letter from Mr. William Gotshalk, the lawyer representing the New Jersey farmers.


    William Gotshalk
    Counselor at Law
    Camden, New Jersey

    September5, 1945

    Maj. C.A. Taney, Jr.
    United States Engineer Office
    P.O. Box 42 – Station [???]

    Dear Major Taney:

    I think your letter of September 1st completely misconstrues the nature of the information that I want.

    In the first place, I want no information from the government. I was interested in finding out quantitatively concerning the manufacture, use and disposition of hydrogen fluoride in the East and Blue Areas at Deep Water. The operators are the DuPonts and they expressed their willingness to give me this information, but stated that the government would not let them. I submitted a questionnaire not to be answered by the government, but to be answered by DuPonts by permission of the government. You have so far refused permission to have these questions answered.

    I have suspected that behind this is not the security of the United States Government because I could ask the same question of an alkylating plant without knowing it was alkylating gasoline. Your reply is merely “lawyer quibbling”, which has taken the place of frankness…[illegible]

    The questions could have been answered long before the atomic bomb facts were made public because nothing except one or two questions had to do with a description of the process and these could have been omitted for security reasons. However, I did not too strenuously press this issue until after the termination of the war and the publication of certain facts concerning the atomic bomb, which by the way, is not made at Deep Water, although some processing in this….[illegible]

    To forbid us the information we seek is like refusing to give out the make of the typewriters used in the office because they write out letters about the atomic bomb. I repeat that I am not interested in the atomic bomb and never was. I am interested in knowing how much hydrogen fluoride was manufactured, how much was used and how much went out of the stacks of the DuPont Company. I want to make myself perfectly clear in this letter on that score.

    I feel that with this letter I have gone as far with you as I can. If the answer is still “No”, before I do anything else, I will at least know that I have presented the problem to you and that your answer is “No”, so that I may pursue the matter otherwise.

    Very truly yours,

    /s/ W.C. Gotshalk


    The following is the response from Major Taney to Gotshalk’s request. Taney denies Gotshalk the request, stating that, “I am not willing to permit or to willfully assist in the disclosure of any information, the release of which would in my opinion be injurious to the military security of the United States.”


    ARMY SERVICES FORCES
    UNITED STATES ENGINEER OFFICE
    MANHATTAN DISTRICT
    P.O. BOX 42
    STATION P

    24 September 1945

    Mr. William C. Gotshalk
    431 Market Street
    Camden, New Jersey

    Re: Claims Alleged by Peach Growers

    Dear Mr. Gotashalk:

    I understand from your letter of 5 September 1945 that you desire to obtain the following information only:

    a. “I was interested in finding out quantitatively concerning the manufacture, use and disposition of hydrogen fluoride in the East and Blue Areas at Deep Water.”

    b. “I am interested in knowing how much hydrogen fluoride was manufactured, how much was used and how much went out of the stacks of the DuPont Company.”

    In the second paragraph of my letter of 1 September 1945, I stated that current security restrictions do not permit disclosure of the quantities of materials produced or used on the Manhattan project except to the extent covered by War Department releases. These restrictions are still in effect.

    The restrictions have been considered advantageous to the national interest from the standpoint of the nation’s military security. I hope that you will agree with me that information as to the quantity of any material made or used for the purpose of making atomic bombs is a disclosure of military information. Any disclosure of such information as to any one material assists an alert enemy in arriving at a basis for estimating the number of bombs the government has made or is in a position to make.

    I am perfectly willing to permit the disclosure of any information which in my opinion does not conflict with the national security, but I am not willing to permit or to willfully assist in the disclosure of any information, the release of which would in my opinion be injurious to the military security of the United States.

    Very truly yours,

    G.A. TANEY, JR

    Major, Corps of Engineers

    cc: Gen. L.R. Groves
    Col. K.D. Nichols
    Area Eng., Wilmington Area
    Mr. C. E. Geuther, Legal Dept., du Pont


    The following is a series of letters between the farmers’ spokesman, Willard Kille, and General Groves. In the first letter, Kille informs Groves that he has been diagnosed as having suffered from “one or more acute attacks of fluorine intoxication” and asks Groves if the Government could inform him of an effective remedy.


    Willard B. Kille
    Trucker and Market Gardener
    Swedesboro, N.J.

    Feb 2, 1946

    Major General R. Groves
    War Dept
    Washington D.C.

    Dear Sir:

    I am informed that you have knowledge of a satisfactory course for one to pursue who has been injured by fluorine, either from fumes or because of eating foods high in fluorine content.

    I have been informed by Dr. Garfield Duncan that I have had one or more acute attacks of fluorine intoxication but do not as yet have chronic fluorine poisoning. Other folks here are having difficulty also as enclosed copy of blood samples will indicate. Any suggestions from you will be appreciated.

    Yours truly, Willard B. Kille


    Letter from Colonel. Rhodes to General Groves, advising him on how to respond to Kile’s request.


    25 February 1946

    TO: Major General L.R. Groves

    FROM: Lt. Col. Cooper B. Rhodes

    SUBJECT: Alleged Injury from Fluorine – Willard B. Kille, Swedesboro, N.J.

    1. Attached hereto is suggested answer to letter dated 2 February 1946 from Willard B. Kille, for your approval and signature. The letter from Mr. Kille is also attached.

    2. The Medical Section has informed this office that it has no information concerning treatments of injuries from fluorine other than those generally known to the medical profession.

    COOPER B. RHODES

    2. Incls.:
    Ltr 2 Feb 46, Kille to Groves, w/incl.
    Ltr 27 Feb 46, Groves to Kille (for Gen. Groves’ signature), in trip.


    Groves response to Kille’s request.


    4 March 1946

    Mr. Willard B. Kille,

    Swedesboro, New Jersey.

    Dear Mr. Kille:

    I have delayed responding to your letter of 2 February 1946 in order that I might consult with members of the medical staff of this organization. I had hoped that I might be able to furnish the information which you requested, but I am now satisfied that this organization has no information concerning the treatment of fluorine poisoning which is not available to, and generally by, the medical profession.

    However, to be sure that your physician is acquainted with all of the information on this subject, which is known to my medical officers, I shall have one of those officers visit Dr. Duncan within the next few days.

    I have also received your letter transmitting a copy of the transcript of the proceedings of the meeting held on 1 February 1946, for which I thank you. Subsequently, I have received from you a copy of the transcript of the meeting held on 8 February 1946, for which I am likewise grateful. I am keeping in close personal touch with the efforts which you are making to eliminate the source or sources of damage to the crops in your area, and I am anxious that this organization shall be of assistance to you in that work. To that end, we shall do everything within our power which is consistent with requirements of military security and the protection of the interests of the government in the pending litigation with which you are familiar.

    Very truly yours,

    L.R. Groves, Major General, U.S.A.


    Coopers to Rhodes: In this letter Colonel Rhodes suggests to Groves that he go ahead and meet with Kille. Cooper advises Rhodes that it would be “advantageous” to meet with Kille and assure Kile that DuPont was not the source of the fluoride that poisoned the crops.


    7 March 1946

    Subject: Proposed Conference with Mr. Willard B. Kille and Mr. A.J. Gorand

    To: Major General Groves.

    From: Lt. Colonel Rhodes.

    1. From conversation which I have had with Mr. Kille, writer of the attached teletype, I know that the purpose of the proposed conference is to solicit your assurance that steps have been taken, or are being taken, to prevent contamination of the atmosphere by the du Pont plants which are operating for the Manhattan Project in the vicinity of Deepwater Point, New Jersey. Mr. Kille is still of the opinion that those plants are causing most of the trouble.

    2. I recommend that I be authorized to inform Mr. Kille that you will confer with him, as requested, and that I be further authorized to make necessary arrangements for the conference, the same to be held in your office.

    3. I believe it will be possible for you to give Mr. Kille the assurance which he desires and I believe that it would be advantageous to do so. I am advised by the Area Engineer, Wilmington, that steps have been taken to eliminate the venting of hydrogen fluoride. The written report on that subject from the Area Engineer is being obtained and will be available to you prior to the proposed conference. I shall arrange to have the report reviewed by the Security Branch in order that you may have the benefit of the advice of that office before disclosing any information to Mr. Kille.

    4. A suggested reply to the teletype from Mr. Kille is attached for your signature if approved.


    Groves to Kille: Groves letter to Kille, confirming their meeting.


    9 March 1946

    Mr. Willard B. Kille
    Swedesboro, New Jersey

    Dear Mr. Kille,

    This will acknowledge the receipt of your teletype of 5 March.

    I shall be glad to confer with you and Mr. Gorand in my office at Washington at the earliest date that can be arranged. Lt. Colonel Rhodes of this office will contact you to make necessary arrangements.

    Very truly yours,

    L.R. GROVES
    Major General, USA


    Kille to Groves: Probably because of Groves’ national stature and prestige, Kille was very excited and pleased to have met with the General. As this letter indicates, Kille was so impressed with the General that he left the meeting believing that the famers’ “interests in this particular matter were being safe guarded by men of the highest type whose integrity they could not question.”


    Willard B. Kille
    Trucker and Market Gardener
    Swedesboro, N.J.

    March 26, 1946

    Maj. General L.R. Groves
    War Dept.
    Washington D.C.

    Dear General Groves:

    I am back in the [illegible] today after a very pleasant day in the Nation’s Capitol. The time spent in your office was the highlight of the day [illegible]. it was an adventure in understanding. I wish again to thank you, General Nichols, Col. Rhodes and [illegible] for the courtesies shown Mr. Gorand and myself.

    As a representative of the farmers in this section I am more than satisfied with the outcome of the meeting. The franknes, interest, concern and very evident desire to help [illegible] a very difficult situation was quite apparent… I came away with the feeling that [what we] have to fear the most from now on is misunderstanding itself.

    Without an opportunity occasionally for direct contact we sometimes jump to conclusions too hastily and even question motives and intentions. I wish all of our farmers could have been present yesterday. I think if they had, they too would have come away with the feeling that their interests in this particular matter were being safe guarded by men of the highest type whose integrity they could not question. In my humble way it now becomes my duty and privilege to try and pass on to them the impression I received.

    Again I thank you for arranging this meeting. I think it will result in much good.

    Yours truly

    Willard B. Kille


    Groves response to Kille: In this letter Groves thanks Kille for his kind words, and repays the kind words with an outright lie. Groves tells Kille that “So far as we have been able to ascertain, activities of the Manhattan District have not been responsible for the damage which has been the source of the complaint, but we are making every effort to learn the true facts.”


    1 April 1946

    Mr. Willard B. Kille
    Swedesboro, New Jersey.

    Dear Mr. Kille:

    Thank you for your kind letter of March 26th. I was glad to have the opportunity of discussing with you and Mr. A.G. Gorand your mutual problems with respect to certain crop damage which has been sustained by farmers in South Jersey and which you suspect may have been caused by atmosphere contaminated by hydrofluoric acid.

    This letter, written at your request, will confirm the verbal assurances which I gave you to the effect that the two government plants which have been operated by E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company, Inc., at Deepwater Point, New Jersey, can not be the cause of any damage or annoyance in the future. Of the two government plants which du Pont has been operating, one has ceased operations, is being dismantled, and can not be considered as a possible source of future damage. In the other plant, the only remaining operation is one which would not contaminate the atmosphere with hydrofluoric acid. Our production program does not contemplate any change in our operations at Deepwater Point during the next year. If we should, in the future, have any operations will be taken to eliminate the possibility of HF discharge into the atmosphere.

    So far as we have been able to ascertain, activities of the Manhattan District have not been responsible for the damage which has been the source of the complaint, but we are making every effort to learn the true facts. We do not desire to hide any facts. We shall do all in our power to correct any damage for which the Manhattan Project may have been responsible. It has always been the policy of the Manhattan District to settle promptly, and with a minimum of expense and trouble to claimants, all just claims. Information derived from reports of other governmental agencies making investigations at our request will be released to all truly interested parties if such release is not found to be prejudicial to the public interest.

    Sincerely yours,

    L.R. GROVES,

    Major General, USA.


    The following is another letter from Harold Hodge. Hodge concludes the letter by asking whether the Government should begin emphasizing fluoride’s supposed benefits to teeth as a means of counteracting the “local fear of fluoride” near Deepwater.


    1 May 1946

    U.S. Engineer Office
    Manhattan District ex
    P.O. Box E
    Oak Ridge, Tennessee

    Attn. Col. S.L. Warren, Medical Section

    Dear Colonel Warren:

    The following is the report of a trip to the DuPont Plant in Wilmington, Delaware on 13 March 1946.

    Lt. Colonel Cooper Rhodes and I met Dr. Henke, fume expert, Mr. Lehner, Plant Manager, and Mr. W.C. Brothers, Assistant, and discussed major aspects of the problem briefly. Dr. Henke then took us by car on a visit to the various orchards concerned in the litigation. These included the orchards of Johnson (3 miles due east of the Chambers Works), Doughton (1/4 mile southwest of the Chambers), Goumari’s (northeast of the Chambers Works near a crossroad east of Pennsgrove), Richard Kille, south of Pedricktown, Giardam, Freed, Huber, Dietrich, Cunard, Garrison, the latter seven orchards 5 to 7 miles northeast of the Chambers Works and all more or less in the same neighborhood.

    Dr. Henke told us that the Atlantic City Power Plant which is located just across the canal from the Chambers Works add up to 40,000 pounds of S02 per day to the atmosphere. The H2SO4 plant adds 20,000 to 30,000 pounds per day. Even so, only extremely minute traces of SO2 are found in air samples at the orchards. Henke said that 0.3-0.5 ppm of S02 produces detectable damage to vegetation, whereas, 0.1 ppm HF causes detectable damage.

    In the Kinetics Plant, Mr. Knowles described the practice of ten years back in which SiF4 was vented in the air. SiF4 is quite poisonous. At least 97% is now collected, not vented. The CaSO4 sludge used to be placed in hopper cars in hoods and the fumes were vented through a 35-foot stack. Since 1942, the sludge has been dumped in barrels of water, CaSO4 dissolved and disposed of. In 1943, there were fumes present at ground levels. Since September 1944, due to reduced feed and reduced losses, the HF loss was cut to nil. Seventy-five foot wooden stacks were established from July to October 1944. No hospitalised fume burns since September 1944. Air analyses not far from the plant show only 0.01 ppm. Mr. Knowles said that he thought 0.001 ppm HF gave a detectable odor and that 3 ppm was probably intolerable to the eye and skin. Dr. Dunphy, in charge of air analyses, stated that they can measure 1 ppm with error of only a few hundredths. 0.004 ppm analyses might be off by 50%; 1 ppm HF can be analyzed to within 10% in the presence of 1 ppm SO2. In air analyses in Pennsgrove, 0.04 ppm were found; no reasonable doubt existed that it is HF.

    At the hospital we visited Dr. Evans and Wetherow, where we discussed a program of clinical examinations and the use of x-rays. Dr. Evans said that some urinary F analyses had been performed in Kehoe’s laboratory in Cincinnati.

    The Atlantic City Power Company, Dr. Henke told us, also puts 500-800 pounds of HF up the stacks per day from the coal. At the school building at Deep Water on the west side many windows show etching. The bluish sheen was especially noticeable on certain windows in which the panels had been replaced. The contrast of the shiny new glass with the filmy etched glass was quite apparent.

    Question. Does exhaled air from an animal contain fluoride? Is there more fluoride in it than in inhaled air? Would there be any use in making attempts to counteract the local fear of fluoride on the part of residents of Salem and Gloucester counties through lectures on F toxicology and perhaps the usefulness of F in tooth health?”

    Yours very truly,

    Harold C. Hodge
    Chief Pharmacologist


    This letter by Harold Hodge exemplifies the Government’s efforts to obfuscate the source of the fluoride that ruined the peach orchards crops. Highlighting this effort to obfuscate, Hodge mentions that a question had been raised as to “whether plants could give off enough fluorine to account for that present in the atmosphere.”

    Hodge also mentions a particularly important piece of information that the Government’s defense was relying on – namely, that high levels of atmospheric fluoride had been found to be generated by the burning of coal. This was important for the Government’s case, because there was a power plant in the region where the farmer’s lived (although relatively far away as compared to DuPont). Hodge mentions in the letter that plans were in the works to test for sulphur levels on the farmers’ crops – for if high levels of sulphur were found, than they would have evidence to indicate that the farmers were exposed to fluoride from the coal burning power plant.

    A later letter from Hodge, however, stated that their tests for sulphur around the farmers’ fields, produced negligible results – thus ruling out the power plant as the cause of the damage.

    Another note of interest in this letter is a suggestion which Hodge makes. Hodge, who was interested in determining the effects of rain and fog on fluoride air emissions, suggested to Col. Warren that they purposefully vent some hydrogen fluoride on a rainy and foggy day and then take tests to determine the varying concentrations of fluoride in the air. As Hodge writes:

    “It may be that most of the F vented from various plants disappears but that occasionally, perhaps during a rain or fog, a large amount of the atmospheric F is brought down. It would be possible to make a setup on a rainy day to vent HF or F2 at a steady rate and to do air analyses downwind at various distances as well as to collect rainfall at various distances from the vent. The vegetation and soil in the neighborhood should also be sampled.”


    27 February 1946

    U.S. Engineer Office
    Manhattan District
    P.O. Box E
    Oak Ridge Tennessee Attn. Col. S.L. Warren, Medical Section

    Dear Colonel Warren:

    On February 26, 1946 a meeting called by Lt. Col. Rhodes was held in the Department of Agriculture Building at 10 a.m. in Washington, D.C. In attendance were Drs. McCall, Griffin, Robinson of the Bureau of Plant Industry, Dept. of Agriculture; Major Fox, CWS, Mr. Wilson and a colleague or two from CWS, Edgewood Arsenal; Drs. Wickers and Brewer with several others from the Bureau of Standards; Marion Voss and myself from Rochester, N.Y.

    Dr. McCall opened the meeting by presenting four points as follows:

    1. DuPont has been doing air samples, finding about the same amount of fluorine in New Jersey area and elsewhere in New York State and the Pennsylvania mountains.

    2. The British reported (1945) soft coal burning may produce atmospheric fluorine since some coals contain up to 200 ppm.

    3. Zimmerman raised the question whether plants could give off enough fluorine to account for that present in the atmosphere.

    4. Satler analyzed vegetables, canned and fresh, found high fluoride; confirmed by F&DA, although later samples by F&DA do not show high values. (Leaves collected by Griffin have 40-100, sometimes 200 ppm, dry basis. Canned tomato juice 30 ppm, fresh basis).

    Note for future reference: Willard Killey (?) President of the Gloucester County Farm Board is not a litigant but actively concerned with remedying the situation.

    Dr. Robinson mentioned that brick yards might give off fluorine since some glass contains .15% F. Dr. McCall added that glass works in the area might be sources of fluorine and that there are a number of plants beside the DuPont Blue or East Works which may be suspect. For example, the Sun Oil Catalytic Tower, a few miles away, the I.V. Thomas Fertilizer Works or the Socony Vacuum Plant, both the latter in Paulsboro.

    Dr. McCall’s opinion was that our most vulnerable point is lack of complete analyses on vegetation. He suggested that more samples should be taken as soon as the plants start growing and the plant content should be followed closely for at least two or three months. The collection area should include more than the Deep Water area.

    Dr. Wickers asked if any other chemicals than F could have caused the damage, specifically uranium. Dr. McCall told him that in the field it is impossible to differentiate between fume damage by HF, H2SO4 of HO1. Dr. McCall suggested that perhaps other organic fumes were involved and that perhaps fluorine might accentuate the effects of organic fumes.

    McCall recommended the following program.

    1. Analyses should be made of air and vegetable samples from at least as far away as Paulsboro.

    2. They plan to go ahead with their fumigation studies under the direction of Griffin using HF on outdoor planting (as I understood it).

    3. They plan to get soils, add soluble fluorine as HF or NaF (and CaF2), and follow absorption.

    4. They plan to run base exchange studies in which soluble fluorides will be placed in contact with soil.

    5. He recommends wider distribution of air samples. McCall said that the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station is interested and would like to cooperate.

    McCall stressed the necessity for handling samples in such a way as to avoid loss of fluoride.

    The Bureau of Standards has been asked to do analyses for fluorine, sulphur and uranium on samples in cooperation with the Department of Agriculture.

    Dr. Wickers said the the [sic] CWS had invited them to participate to find whether the mass spectrometer can be adapted to rapid, sensitive fluoride determinations. Brewer mentioned the advantage, viz:

    1. A photographic record which can be used as court evidence to a highly sensitive procedure.

    2. Sensitivity and Specificity. They know that the final step is accurate but the many chemical difficulties in the preparation of the samples for the last step are not now licked and the future is uncertain.

    Sulphur determinations are in progress, results are supposed to be available in a weak or two.

    U analyses are now being made by fluorimetric methods supplementing beta counts.

    Major Fox introduced Wilson who has carried out air sampling. His final report should be available in one month. They have had two jobs: (1) cooperation with the Bureau of Standards and the Department of Agriculture; (2) air tests for fluorine at four stations in Salem County.

    Samples are collected in glass bubblers with dilute bicarbonate caustic for two hours and forty minutes. All values less than 0.01 micrograms per liter as HF were thrown out on the basis of 20 samples taken in Bel-Air, Maryland, which averaged 0.008 micrograms per liter. Twenty-three samples from the Salem area ranged from 0.011 to 0.049 micrograms per liter. The values seemed to be independent of wind direction.

    Sulphur analyses of air are planned using the Thomas samplers beginning April 1. Some sulphur analyses have been done on past samples.

    After considerable discussion it was agreed that air samples should be taken, if possible, from at least one station located on the farm of one of the litigants and that perhaps one could be put on the Dietrich farm where the nearest large orchard is located. The strategy of the location of the air sample stations arise from Rhodes suggestion that we wished not to controvert data on the F content of plants, but to show doubt as to the origin of the F on the plants.

    McCall suggested that the particular type of plant that Satler used may be important. If he has chosen an ‘accumulator’ like Zimmerman’s camellias, he may show very high values. Robinson suggested that the Aluminum Company of America has data on leaf content.

    Several ideas, questions and suggestions came to my mind during the course of the conference.

    1. Perhaps we should sample other types of vegetation besides vegetables.

    2. It may be that most of the F vented from various plants disappears but that occasionally, perhaps during a rain or fog, a large amount of the atmospheric F is brought down. It would be possible to make a setup on a rainy day to vent HF or F2 at a steady rate and to do air analyses downwind at various distances as well as to collect rainfall at various distances from the vent. The vegetation and soil in the neighborhood should also be sampled.

    3. Does the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station have F analyses of vegetables in 1944 and earlier?

    4. We might take some colored pictures of the effluent from the various stacks throughout the Deep Water area to show different colored smokes, hence different fume exposures.

    5. Perhaps our fluoride method could be readjusted to be done on a colorimeter using a photorecorder so that we would have records suitable for submission in court.

    6. A visit to the area would be a good investment.

    7. Since there is a ketchup plant at Salem it might be well to get some and do analyses on it.

    8. It would be interesting to know how many ppm of F are found in leaves grown in atmosphere containing a certain ppm of HF. Is there any evidence that HF or F dust directly on the leaves is different from the same material deposited on the soil?

    Very truly yours,

    Harold C. Hodge
    Chief Pharmacologist

    cc. Col. Rhodes
    Capt. Davies


    The following is a letter from Hodge, describing a visit of his to the Deepwater area with David Ast. This is of historical importance because David Ast was the lead researcher of the infamous Newburgh/Kingston fluoridation trial – which was underway at the time. The Newburgh/Kingston trial was the study that proved in the minds of the US medical community that fluoridation was safe. Other documents from this period show that Dr. Ast also attended a top secret Manhattan Project conference on fluoride toxicity in New York City in 1944 (see list of attendees). However, despite the fact that documents clearly show that Ast was in contact with the Manhattan Project, Ast denied any such relationship when asked by Byson and Griffiths in the 1990s. According to Bryson and Griffiths (1997),

    “Did he [David Ast] recall participating in the Manhattan Project’s secret wartime conference on fluoride in January 1944, or going to New Jersey with Dr. Hodge to investigate human injury in the du Pont case–as secret memos state? He told the reporters he had no recollection of these events.”


    11 March 1946

    U.S. Engineer Office
    Manhattan District ex
    P.O. Box E
    Oak Ridge, Tennessee

    Attn. Col. S.L. Warren, Medical Section

    Dear Colonel Warren:

    The following is the report of a trip to the Deep Water Area to study the relationship, if any, of mottled enamel and the reputed fluorine exposures.

    Captain Mears picked up Dr. Ast and myself in New York City early Wednesday morning March 6. We drove to Trenton, New Jersey, where we talked with Dr. Jacob M. Wisan, Chief of the Dental Health Bureau, State Department of Health. Dr. Wisan is located in Room 17-M, Broad Street Bank Building, Montgomery and State Streets, Trenton, N.J.

    Visit with Dr. Wisan. Dr. Wisan had made a survey published in 1944 of the dental health of children in the schools of six communities in southern New Jersey. These communities are Blackwood, Glassboro, Mantua, Mullica Hill, Wenonah, Woodstown, and Woodbury. The public water supplies of these towns contain between 1 and 2.4 ppm of fluorine.

    Dr. Wisan had made arrangements for us to talk to Mr. J.E. Bacon a State chemist, of the State Water Department and to visit schools in Woodstown and Glassboro.

    Dr. Wisan had found that the children of Cumberland county south of the mottled enamel area in Gloucester and Salem counties had better teeth than the children in the north part of the state but poorer than in the fluorine area.

    Visit with Mr. Bacon. Mr. Bacon, the State water chemist, has been running fluoride analyses on water supplies for some time using a modification of the Sanchis method in which a little sulphate is added to the control. Samples are analyzed at Trenton. The water containing fluorine comes from deep wells 100-300 feet deep of artesian character. Deep wells are not necessarily fluorine bearing, thus Camden has wells 300-600 feet deep with practically no fluorine (.1-.3 ppm) in the water. Over in Atlantic county on the eastern seaboard deep wells have no fluorine. The farm wells which are shallow, 15 feet or so deep, have no fluorine as far as Mr. Bacon knows, regardless of distribution.

    Mr. Bacon said that Mr. Weller of the Bureau of Industrial Hygiene was interested in urine analyses for fluorine but thought there were no data on urines other than industrial personnel.

    The fluorine method Mr. Bacon used for food analyses of vegetables, fresh and canned, all analyzed since the peach tree episode began, is described in the JADA 27, 90 (1944).

    Visit to Woodstown School. The supervising principal is Mrs. P.E. Batten, the nurse, Marelle (sp) Carter. Three children were presented to us as the ones showing ‘mottling’. These children were as follows:

    1. Nancy Buckley, 9 years. Incisors were pitted and there were 5 or 6 spots of color on each upper central incisor. The spots were the size of the head of a pin or smaller. She had milkiness of the enamel on the permanent molars, but not on the deciduous teeth. There were apparently no cavities.

    2. Howard Harris, 14 years. There were opacities part way down the upper center incisors bounded by rather easily seen straight boundary running parallel to the incisal edge of the tooth. The tooth surfaces were smooth with no discoloration, the lower incisors were unmarked, there was considerable milkiness of the enamel on the molars; no cavities.

    3. Donald Clawson, 14 years. The upper right central incisor had a colored streak, pale yellow, a third of the way from the incisal edge to the neck of the tooth about as broad as a pencil [illegible] and running half way across the tooth. There were opacities on the upper centrals, milky enamel was observed on the bicuspids and the molars. No cavities.

    We examined all of the fourth grade pupils who had lived all their lives in Woodstown. I was amazed to find mouth after mouth of perfect teeth. A few children had some cavities; some quite well developed in mouths that looked like children’s mouths elsewhere. But to see mouth after mouth with no evident caries was impressive.

    We paid a brief visit to the school at Glassboro and returned.

    Summary. In several towns situated in the district where the complaints have been registered the situation was complicated by the existence of mottled enamel as a result of fluoride in the drinking water.

    Sincerely yours,

    Harold C. Hodge
    Chief Pharmacologist

    cc Lt. Col. Rhodes
    Capt. Davies


    Another letter by Hodge discussing a meeting at the DuPont YMCA.


    4 May 1946

    U.S. Engineer Office
    Manhattan District
    P.O. Box E
    Oak Ridge, Tennessee

    Attn. Col. S.L. Warren, Medical Section

    Dear Colonel Warren:

    The following is the report of a trip to Wilmington, Delaware 1 May 1946.

    A meeting was called by Lt. Col. Cooper B. Rhodes in the DuPont YMCA, Carney’s Point, New Jersey. Those in attendance were as follows: Major Fox, Lt. Ballard, Mr. Wilson, all of the Chemical Warfare Service; Dr. Dunphy, Dr. Askert, Mr. Mausteller, all of the DuPont Company; Dr. McCall, Dr. Bales, Mr. Griffin and Mr. Robinson, all of the Department of Agriculture; Colonel Rhodes, Captain Ryan, Marion Voss, Frank Smith and I.

    Dr. McCall opened the meeting. He described their early collaboration in which Mr. Griffin looked over various trees in Salem and Gloucester county orchards. Air samples were taken by the CWS for fluoride analyses. Other analyses were to be attempted by the Bureau of Standards. The CO2 masked the F in the Bureau of Standards analytical procedure, so Robinson took over all of the following program.

    1. To do vegetable and plant samples; to do air samples; the idea being that the occurrence of F would indicate that the Manhattan sponsored operations were not the only source of F.

    2. To test the effect of very dilute HF on accumulation of F in plant materials.

    3. To study the effect of growth in soils either untreated or treated with NaF, HF or CF2 on the concentration of F in plants. To study errors in sampling and ashing.

    4. Through cooperation of the Bureau of Standards, to obtain U and SO2 analyses on plant matters. Present data indicate that SO2 is a critical factor. It is believed that comparatively large amounts of U are required to affect plant growth. There was some evidence that more U may have been found on leaves near the East Area. Even in these instances, the amounts of U were insufficient to cause damage to vegetation.

    Colonel Rhodes asked if concentrations of HF which produce leaf damage would of necessity cause a diminished crop.

    Dr. McCall reported that two or three year old shoots have no more F than 1 year old shoots. Leaves may accumulate F. Griffin has seen ‘shoot die-back’ in 1944 and in 1945. Several causes are possible. In pines, needles are being analyzed.

    Dr. McCall reported some results of U determinations on leaf samples; analyses by Bureau of Standards. The black cherries – 3 or 4 ppm U; white oak – 7 ppm U; white hale peach – 1 and 7 ppm U; Hemlock – 3 ppm U; Spruce – 6 ppm U; Weeping Willow – 1 ppm U (samples from Kille farm); 30 ppm in samples from playground near East Area; Maple – 7 ppm from trees in Chambers Works area; 1 ppm and 4 ppm from trees across the river.

    N.B. Dr. McCall asked us to send samples from Western New York for U analysis. Mr. Griffin will give directions for collection. Dr. McCall would like to have us do some U analyses here.

    Dr. McCall stated that dogwood is an accumulator of F: 110, 153 and 216 ppm F found in air-dried (105*0) samples. McCall intends to study age of leaf vs. F content.

    Dr. Dunphy emphasized the importance of techniques, especially washing, in the collecting of vegetable samples. He found highly variable and inconsistent F contents on repeat analyses. He had found privet hedge leaves contain up to 1000 ppm F. He would like to know whether much F is lost in the drying process and when best to add a fixative. Robinson reported that Clifford, themselves, and another laboratory analyzed a dried thistle sample; found 7.7, 8.3 and 8.5 ppm.

    Dr. Dunphy speaking of air analyses said that results from last summer may be too high; that solutions can absorb as much F from the glass of the absorber bottle as from the atmosphere. He stated that highly F sensitive plants have set out in various locations near Chambers Works.

    The laboratory of the National Canners Association found normal F values in canned food samples from the Salem Area.

    Dr. McCall reported for vegetables the following F analyses: sweet potatoes – 1.7, 1.6 and 1.9 ppm; irish potatoes – 2.3 ppm; asparagus bush – 128, 26 ppm; canned asparagus – 3.2 and 5.5 ppm; canned tomatoes – 4.7, 5.5 and 6.7 ppm; strawberries on fresh weight basis – 0.3 ppm; lima beans – 3.2 ppm; string beans – 11.6 ppm; peach roots, 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick – 1.7 ppm; 2 to 2 1/4 inches thick – 1.5 ppm. (All values on air-dried basis except strawberries).

    Robinson reported that Borrelli’s asparagus had 128, Kille’s 26 ppm. Windows are etched on Borrelli’s, but not on Kille’s home. The houses are quite close together.

    N.B. Bales suggested that we analyze blood from people in Texas who drink water containing 5 ppm F.

    Dr. Dunphy stated that Largent adds [illegible] fixative for blood prior to ashing. Dr. Ackert reported that in a certain company, not his own, workers excreted 10 micrograms per liter F in the urine, although asymptomatic, showed mild fluorosis in the x-rays.

    N.B. Question: Can blood be obtained from these men for analyses? Ackert stated that it is believed that man is more resistant than certain animals to HF in the air.

    Wilson reported that last year the results of air analyses showed only negligible quantities of F in the air. This year using the ‘ferrisal’ method, larger amounts apparently are present. He believes these high values are only apparent values (e.g. up to .15 micrograms per liter) and are due to the method, because simultaneous samples with the old method gave no values over 0.014 micrograms per liter.

    Dr. McCall asked how much HF could come down in rain. He had in mind the alleged chicken poisoning episode described by Mr. Kille. Mausteller told me privately that they had analyzed rain water in the Chambers Works and found of the order of 0.5 ppm.

    In a tour of the air sampling stations we asked Wilson if samples could be taken with the bubbler on the roof, thereby omitting the long rubber tube through which air samples are now pulled. Mr. Voss suggested that it would be interesting to compare one of their air bubblers with one of ours at their air station. Wilson agreed to try if we sent him a bubbler.

    Yours very truly,

    Harold C. Hodge
    Chief Pharmacologist

    cc Lt. Col. Rhodes
    Capt. Davies