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Dugway Proving Ground

U.S. Army Dugway Proving Ground executes efficient testing and support to enable our nation's defenders to counter chemical, biological, radiological, and explosives (CBRE) hazards. Located 80 miles west-southwest of Salt Lake City, Utah, and covering 800,000 acres, it was large enough and remote enough to allow for the full-scale testing of chemical and biological munitions and delivery systems. Dugway was the site of extensive, open-air biological and chemical testing in the 1950s and 1960s. Defensive chemical and biological equipment testing continues today within its facilities and laboratories.

Human Experimentation

Dugway Proving Ground supported service requirements for chemical and biological testing of agent and munitions. Dugway personnel helped develop test plans and provided manpower and facilities in support of service testing. Any individuals exposed during testing or laboratory work either intentionally or accidentally are included in the Cold War database currently under development. This database archives exposures from 1942 onward that were not included in the earlier World War II or Project 112/SHAD databases.

Furthermore, Dugway Proving Ground was the scene of some Project 112 testing conducted under the auspices of Deseret Test Center. Individuals exposed to chemical or biological agents during this testing were added to the Project112/SHAD database.

Chemical agents tested at Dugway Proving Ground included the nerve agents, blister agents, and hallucinogens. Biological agent testing involved the use of biological agent simulants as well as pathogenic agents.

Discussions with military veterans and personnel assigned to Dugway Proving Ground indicated that active duty units deployed to and fired chemical munitions at the Proving Ground. Additionally, personnel involved in biological agent testing may have received vaccinations against these agents. Moreover, Service members and civilian personnel assigned to Dugway Proving Ground acted in the roles of test administrators and data recorders during various experiments. Unfortunately, documentation identifying these individuals, their potential exposures and the role they played in testing at Dugway is limited. The names of individuals identified in any existing documentation are included in the Cold War database. 

The majority of the testing at Dugway Proving Ground concentrated on munition development and determining how agents spread once they were released from munitions. There was significantly less human testing conducted at Dugway Proving Ground than at Fort Detrick or Edgewood Arsenal. Any exposure, either from human testing or accidents, is included in DoD’s exposure databases.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1:

What biological agents were tested at Dugway Proving Ground?

A:

The following are the principal biological agents that were used in testing:

a. Bacillus anthracis
b. Brucella melitensis
c. Brucella suis
d. Clostridium botulinum toxin
e. Coccidioides
f. Coccidioides uranine
g. Coxiella burnettii
h. Pasteurella pestis (Yersinia pestis)
i. Pasteurella tularensis (Francisella tularensis)
j. Psittacosis virus

Q2:

What chemical agents were tested at Dugway Proving Ground?

A:

The following are the principal chemical agents that were used in testing

a. Nerve agents (GA (tabun), GB (sarin), GD (soman) and VX)
b. Binary nerve agent precursors
c. Mustard/Lewisite agents
d. Tear agents
e. Cynanides (e.g., CK (cyanogen chloride))
f. Phosgene
g. Hallucinogens (e.g., BZ)

Q3:

What biological simulants were tested at Dugway Proving Ground?

A:

The following are the principal simulants that were used in testing:

a. Bacillus globigii (Bacillus subtilis var niger) - BG
b. Serratia marcescens - SM
c. Aspergillus fumigatus - AF
d. Fluorescent particles – FP

Q4:

I think that I may have been involved in a test. How can I confirm it or get more information?

A:

If you need help verifying your possible participation in any of the tests or have information about the testing, call the Department of Defense's contact managers at 1-800-497-6261, Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. EST.

Alternatively, you may write to us at:

Force Health Protection and Readiness
ATTN: CB Exposures Manager
7700 Arlington Blvd.
Falls Church, VA 22042

If you'd like to speak with a Veterans Affairs representative, call the Special Issues Helpline at 1-800-749-8387. Many states offer services and benefits to veterans. >>Learn more about a particular state

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

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