I've always heard that almost every conspiracy theory has at least a tiny bit of truth in it. That can be said about the theory that the government is spraying chemicals over innocent citizens. That really did happen in St. Louis. History can also confirmed that it happened on at least 2 different occasions.

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It was known during the Cold War as Operation LAC. There's an entire Wikipedia page dedicated to what it involved. It's a program that was classified for decades, but information that was disclosed to the public after the end of the Cold War. It's defined like this:

Operation LAC (Large Area Coverage) was a United States Army Chemical Corps operation which dispersed microscopic zinc cadmium sulfide (ZnCdS) particles over much of the United States and Canada in order to test dispersal patterns and the geographic range of chemical or biological weapons.

Inside that report is one line that includes a damning local footnote:

In St. Louis in the mid 1950s, and again a decade later, the army sprayed zinc cadmium sulfide via motorized blowers atop Pruitt-Igoe, at schools, from the backs of station wagons, and via planes.

This isn't some wild conspiracy theory. This is now history. The National Library of Medicine did a breakdown of exactly what zinc cadmium sulfide is and why there are concerns that it was toxic to St. Louis and the other cities that were secretly sprayed. Here's their official documentation of how much was sprayed over St. Louis:

The subcommittee reviewed the zinc cadmium sulfide exposure data from the Army's files. The highest estimated potential exposure doses reported for individuals were in Minneapolis (44 μg), Winnipeg, Canada (93 μg), St. Louis, Missouri (156 μg)…Some locations were exposed once or a few times; other locations were exposed up to 35 times over a period of two years...If we assume a worst-case scenario—that exposure to zinc cadmium sulfide will have the same effect as exposure to an equivalent amount of cadmium—then repeated exposures to zinc cadmium sulfide could cause kidney and bone toxicity and lung cancer.

The truth is we still don't know if the Army spraying of this chemical was in an amount that could cause this terrible result.

The side effects of this secret spraying program during the Cold War over and in St. Louis remain unknown. Perhaps we'll never know the full truth. If nothing else, it's good to remember that even some of the craziest conspiracy theories can and sometimes do have some truth buried under the wild claims.

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