The Chemists’ War: Environmental Histories of Chemical Weapons Manufacture in the United States during World War I

December 13, 2018, National World War 1 Museum and Memorial, Kansas City, MO, USA

Gerard J. Fitzgerald, George Mason University and Linda Hall Library

During the short time the United States was formally in World War I—only 585 days—the federal government successfully manufactured thousands of tons of chemical weapons such as chlorine, phosgene, chlorpicrin, and mustard gas and just under four million gas masks, an amazing industrial achievement. My talk discusses the environmental impact of chemical warfare production in the United States on the homefront looking at the construction of the Edgewood Arsenal in rural Maryland and the role civilians and the Red Cross played in gathering food waste, such as nutshells and fruit pits, for gas mask production. These stories elucidate the complex impact nature and the environment played in the process of industrialization and military mobilization during a global war.

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Posted: December 06, 2018