I’m trying a new method of addressing the lunacy of chemtrails by showing that dumping chemicals at altitude wouldn’t generally do very much or be a very effective way of exposing populations to the chemicals that some claim are being sprayed. It’s worth noting that the chemtrail loonies can’t even seem to agree on what is being sprayed, so here are some of the more common chemicals claimed.
If chemtrail conspiracy theorists are to believed, then large jet aircraft, possibly the same aircraft that carry passengers are being used to spray unknown quantities of chemicals of some type at high altitude. While it’s rather difficult to judge the altitude of an aircraft by sight alone, based on what has been claimed to be chemtrails it’s fairly clear that the aircraft were flying at normal jet altitudes, well above tropospheric weather. If they were indeed passenger aircraft then the altitude is generally above thirty thousand feet.
Some commonly claimed materials:
Jet Fuel or other hydrocarbons – This is actually done on occasion, as passenger jets do occasionally have to preform fuel dumps. These are not done as a matter of routine but rather happen when a plane is heavily loaded with fuel for a long flight but has to land shortly after takeoff due to an emergency such as a mechanical failure or a passenger medical emergency. The fuel disperses rapidly. Studies have been done on exactly what happens to fuel dumped at altitude and have concluded that at least 98% of it evaporates before it ever reaches ground level. If any does reach the ground (which it usually does not) it is a very minute amount which is spread over an enormous geographic area. The quantity is basically unnoticeable and will itself evaporate relatively quickly.
The fuel vapors will not last long in the atmosphere. Hydrocarbons tend to photodegrade and generally decompose in the atmosphere and will eventually oxidize entirely. In the short term, these vapors may contribute, at least locally to smog, but they would makeup a relatively small proportion of human generated air pollution.
Aluminum – Atomized aluminum or some aluminum compound like aluminum oxide would disperse quite a bit before any amount reached the ground. It would basically behave as atmospheric dust, some remaining suspended for some time in the high winds at altitude but most eventually falling from suspension. Aluminum is one of the most common elements in the crust of the earth and therefore one of the primary components of atmospheric dust. Adding a little more aluminum would have little effect on the total amount in the earth’s atmospheric dust and any that settled to the ground would join the enormous amounts of aluminum present in most soil.
Aluminum is generally regarded as being non-toxic and in all but the most extreme circumstances presents no substantial health danger.
Mercury – If ejected from aircraft, mercury would either evaporate or form very small droplets which would remain suspended at least initially. Due to the high weight of mercury it would not stay in the atmosphere for a very long time but would precipitate out. By the time the mercury reached the ground, it would be extremely dispersed and would not reach toxic levels in any given location. However, it would accumulate in water especially in the worlds oceans.
Spraying mercury out of aircraft wouldn’t do a whole lot to increase the atmospheric mercury levels or the oceanic mercury levels, however. Unfortunately, we already spew many many tons of mercury into the atmosphere and it has resulted in increased atmospheric and oceanic mercury levels and occasionally can be shown to bioacumulate in some species. This happens because of the burning of coal which is a very effective way of ejecting mercury into the atmosphere. In areas directly downwind from coal plants, mercury levels are elevated, especially after the coal burner has operated for a many years or decades.
Dumping mercury from an aircraft would at least result in more dilution before it reached the ground and thus would not expose a given area to as acute a level of mercury. All in all, it would do what coal burners already do, although to a much smaller extent.
Barium – One of the most commonly claimed components of chemtrails is barium. However, chemtrail conspiracy theorists don’t seem to have much idea what form it is supposedly being discharged in. Barium is an alkaline earth metal, but in its elemental form it is highly reactive especially to oxygen. If barium were discharged into the air in an atomized form, it would react violently to form barium oxide and barium peroxide. Both of these compounds are also reactive and are powerful oxidizers. While it is unlikely that either would reach the ground in significant concentrations, if they did, they would react readily with most organic material.
If barium compounds were released in the atmosphere, it’s more realistic to expect that they would be m0re stable barium salts. The most common of these is barium sulfate. Barium sulfate is non-toxic and not reactive. It is so safe that it is a very common radiocontrast agent that is often swallowed to allow x-ray examination of the digestive tract. It is also fairly common in the surface geology of earth, so adding a tiny bit more would not change very much.
Other barium salts vary in toxicity and reactivity from very low to very high. Most soluble barium compounds are fairly toxic. Barium carbonate, for example, has been used as a rat poison. These barium compounds are also found in nature, in soil, water and atmospheric dust and are generally not of concern as long as the concentrations are fairly low. According to the CDC, respiratory precautions become necessary when the concentrations of soluble barium compounds in the air exceed .5 miligrams per cubic meter.
Such high concentrations are would not result from dumping barium into the air at altitude. By the time the compound reached the ground, it would be dispersed over a minimum of dozens of square kilometers. Some chemtrail theorists cite measurements of soluble barium compounds in air samples that have been as high as 50.8 nanograms per cubic meter. This is a tiny amount, and orders of magnitude bellow what is considered the safe exposure level. It is entirely consistent with the levels expected to exist from soil kicked up by wind and other sources of atmospheric dust. Atmospheric barium is also produced by some human activities, such as flares and fireworks, where barium compounds are used to produce a green color. The levels produced by such activities have been subject to study and while they do cause a very modest localized increase in detectable barium compounds, the levels are nowhere near what would be considered hazardous.
Sulfur Dioxide – Aircraft do already release tiny amounts of sulfur dioxide, because sulfur is present in hydrocarbon fuels. Aviation fuel tends to be relatively highly refined and conform to standards for low sulfur levels. In the case of Jet-A fuel, the maximum allowable sulfur concentration is less than .3% by weight. This results in a small but significant amount of sulfur dioxide in the engine exhaust.
It has been suggested that aircraft could spray sulfur dioxide as a means of reducing global warming. Indeed, sulfur dioxide does reflect sunlight, but it also causes acid rain, so intentionally depositing it into the atmosphere seems to be a rather flawed idea. Still, there is quite a bit of the stuff in the atmosphere, both as a result of natural sources like volcanos as well as man-made sources. The largest, by far, is coal burning, which releases hundreds of thousands of tons of sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere each year.
It would take an enormous effort by a huge number of aircraft to increase the total emitted noticeably, and although it would deposit the gas at a higher altitude (at least initially) than coal exhaust, it wouldn’t change atmospheric distribution much in the long run. In any event, the total amount that could be placed in the upper atmosphere by thousands of aircraft would be less than can be produced by a single large volcanic eruption, as happens every so often.
Cloud Seeding Chemicals - Cloud seeding is typically accomplished by using hydroscpic materials, such as salts, by using cold materials like liquid propane or dry ice or by using silver iodine, a chemical which has a structure similar to ice and can be used to induce the formation of ice crystals. These chemicals are sometimes delivered by aircraft but are also commonly delivered by rockets or by ground-based misters and flares.
The best evidence indicates that these chemicals can indeed have some localized effect on cloud structure and precipitation. Adding large amounts of seed material to saturated, supercooled clouds increases the rate of ice and water droplet formation and can temporarily increase the altitude of the cloud, causing additional cooling and resulting in precipitation. The effect, however, is entirely temporary and will only affect the cloud formation which is seeded and not the overall weather of a region.
While cloud seeding is sometimes practiced, it is done in a manner that does not even remotely resemble the so-called “chemtrail” reports. For one, cloud seeding is only effective when the chemicals are applied to clouds that are already fairly saturated and contain at least some supercooled water droplets. If cloud seeding chemicals are applied to a “dry” sky or to areas that do not have dense, cold clouds, they will have no effect at all. If the proported chem trails really did contain seeding material, it would be extremely wasteful as these aircraft normally are reported in relatively clear skies.
The altitudes of the aircraft are also entirely wrong for cloud seeding. While it can be difficult to judge the exact altitude of an aircraft, most “chemtrail” reports cite jet aircraft that appear to be flying at normal altitude. The type of clouds that can be most effectively seeded are at relatively low altitudes. Jet aircraft typically fly at altitudes far above tropospheric weather and thus, even if the appropriate cloud formations did exist, they would be too high to directly seed them. Therefore, any attempt to seed clouds from these aircraft would be entirely ineffective.
Bacteria - If sprayed out the back of an aircraft at altitude, bacteria would be introduced to a very harsh environment. The spraying itself would eject the bacteria into air currents moving at near supersonic speeds and into extremely low temperatures. Many forms of bacteria are capable of surviving freezing and rethawing, but the tolerance for being frozen varies depending on the type of bacteria and the circumstances of the freezing. Being frozen after being ejected from an aircraft is an especially rapid and violent form of freezing. The bacteria would be subjected to an extreme temperature change and being tumbled with tiny ice crystals. It would be expected that most of the bacteria would be destroyed if ejected in a liquid form in this manner.
The only bacteria that might be candidates for being ejected from an aircraft would be those that form tough endospores. They also count not be ejected as a liquid, mixed with water, but would have to be dried and preserved in a powder-like form. Ejecting the powdered bacteria presents other problems. Atomized solids tend to accumulate static charges which cause them to clump and not properly disperse. However, the problem is not insurmountable, assuming enough effort were put into electrostatic control and dispersal equipment.
There are very few bacteria that really fit the bill for being tough enough to be dispersed into the air in the endospore phase and have a good chance of surviving for any period of time. One reason that anthrax has been the focus of much biological warfare research is that it is one of the very few pathogenic bacteria that can be spread by air and is tough enough to reliably survive rapid dispersal. It also can be cultured in large quantities relatively easily.
Even a bacteria like anthrax would have difficulty in the especially rough conditions of being sprayed out of the back of a jet aircraft. If the bacteria were to come into contact with droplets of liquid water as it fell, it could come out of the endospore phase and thus become far more fragile.
An even greater danger would be ultraviolet light. UV light is an effective way of destroying bacteria and at high altitudes they would be above most of the atmosphere and much of the ozone layer. At these altitudes, UV light is especially intense. The bacteria would likely remain aloft for some time, due to their small size and the high speed winds at altitude. This would give them ample time to be exposed to intense ultraviolet light.
Ultimately some of the bacteria may well survive and eventually they would find their way to the ground. Just like other forms of atmospheric dust, the bacteria would either reach low levels on their own or be brought down by precipitation. By the time they reached the ground, the bacteria would be extremely dispersed, with a relatively small amount of bacterial dispersed over as much as hundreds of miles.
This would be of little concern. The world is not sterile as is and the soil is already full of bacteria, including potentially pathogenic bacteria (for this reason, licking random things outdoors is not recommended). The bacteria would join a huge population of bacteria of every type that lives in the soil and air of the earth. Even anthrax can be found in soil in many locations. Inhaling an few bacteria is not likely to cause infection, it would have to be a fairly large amount. That would never happen.
To date, there are no known biological warfare programs that ever considered spreading bacteria by spraying it out the back of high altitude jet aircraft. All credible biological warfare research and testing as focused on more direct methods of exposing populations or enemy forces to bacteria, such as contaminating water supplies or using small ground-level aerosol producing bomblets.
Viruses – Many of the rules that apply to bacteria also apply to viruses, although viruses are vastly varied in their tolerance for various environments. Many viruses are extremely fragile when outside of their host organism. Viruses also are much more difficult to produce in large quantities since they cannot be cultured on their own – they require another organism’s cells to replicate.
Assuming a virus could be found that could be produced in large quantities and was able to survive the temperature extremes, ultraviolet light and other factors associated with being sprayed from a high altitude aircraft, it would still be a too dispersed to be likely to cause much harm and would be, at best, a highly inefficient way of dosing people on the ground.
Antibiotics – Because antibiotics are complex organic compounds, it could be expected that some portion of those discharged into the upper atmosphere would decompose or otherwise be destroyed by ultraviolet light or oxidation before ever reaching the ground. Since the antibiotics would be greatly dispersed, it’s unlikely that there would be much in the way of noticeable effects on the microorganisms in the region. Antibiotics have to be present in fairly high concentrations for them to be effective in killing or inhibiting the reproduction of microbes.
Discharging even fairly large amounts of antibiotics into the environment in such a low density manner would not do very much to alter the concentrations in the region. It is important to remember that antibiotics have been common in the biosphere for at least millions of years. Most antibiotic compounds are derived directly from compounds produced by fungi, bacteria and other microbes. For example, the antibiotic Gentamicin is composed of compounds produced by widely found in soil and water and Penicillin is produced by a common fungus that is responsible for bread mold. There are some fully synthetic antibiotics, but they are not inherently more powerful than the naturally occurring variety.
Antibiotics are selective and only toxic to certain microbes. These compounds are not toxic to humans or animals and would not have any noticeable effects on such organisms, especially in the concentrations that might reach ground level from high altitude discharges. Since these compounds are present in minute amounts in the environment, humans are always being exposed to very low concentrations of antibiotic compounds and always have been.
Human Blood – This is an especially ridiculous claim, given the amount of blood that would be needed to create a reasonably sized trail of blood in the air. It would take all the blood in the bodies of more than 24,000 full grown humans to fill the tanks of a KC-135. That assumes all the bodies were drained. More than three times as many would be needed for live donors of the blood.
Not only that, but spraying blood would be a huge problem for the nozzles, pumps and other equipment. At the very least, the blood would have to have a lot of anticoagulants added.
The blood would disperse quite and the cells and fluid would probably begin to separate. It would tend to freeze very rapidly and this would destroy most of the cells, as blood cannot be frozen without the addition of protectionists. The ice crystals formed tend to break apart the cell walls of blood cells. Any biological material that did eventually reach the ground would biodegrade pretty quickly.
Any pathogens present in the blood would not be harmful in the concentrations that may survive reaching ground level.
Defoliants or Herbicides - There is a good deal of historical data for the dispersal of defoliants and herbicides from aircraft. Aircraft have been used for dispersing such agents in agricultural contexts and as a means of reducing foliage where enemy forces could take cover during military conflicts.
During the Vietnam War, the United States undertook an extensive program to disperse defoliants as a means of reducing the area where enemy forces could hide. This included the application of so-called “rainbow herbicides,” so called because each were assigned a color code to distinguish the type of chemical. The best known of these was Agent Orange, a mixture which was generally safe for humans if formulated correctly, but which was widely contaminated by dioxin compounds due to poor quality control by manufacturers, resulting in detrimental effects on humans who were exposed.
Application of the compounds from too high an altitude would have been ineffective. The material would have dispersed widely, resulting in an uncontrolled dispersal pattern of very low concentrations. The compounds would have remained suspended in the air for some period of time, with much of the material breaking down, and when it finally did reach the ground, concentrations would be far too low to have any noticeable effects on vegetation. In Vietnam, aircraft dispersing herbicides flew at the extremely low altitude of about 150 feet. Dispersing the herbicide also required that the wind speed be low or the chemicals would get scattered.
This low altitude spraying is also what caused the concentrations of dioxin to be high enough at ground level to cause human health issues, as well as the fact that many thousands of tons were used over a relatively small area. If large enough quantities of dioxins were dumped at high altitude, it would increase the regional concentrations, at least slightly, but it would be an extremely inefficient way of doing so if that were the goal.
The aircraft used were typically prop-driven, slow moving aircraft that could spray the herbicide at such low levels and at low speeds. Helicopters were also used. Modern application of herbicides, insecticides and other such material by crop dusters also occurs at low levels, even lower in many circumstances.
Insecticides, Herbicides, Fertilizers – As mentioned above, agricultural chemicals are sometimes delivered by air. It is an efficient method of providing large scale coverage when only low volumes of chemicals are required. Crop dusting is most commonly done to deliver insecticides. The practice may be used outside of the agricultural sector to combat mosquito and other pest insects.
As with herbicides, accomplishing this requires the aircraft to fly at extreme low altitudes. Crop dusters may fly as ten feet above the fields being dusted. Helicopters have increasingly been used for this. Fixed wing airplanes used for crop dusting are designed for slow speeds and high maneuverability at low altitudes. In fact, the altitudes at which crop dusters operate are so low, they have actually been known to collide with trucks and other objects on the ground.
If applied at higher altitudes, chemicals would be scattered and dispersed to a level where they would not be effective. Insecticides and other complex organic chemicals would at least partially break down before reaching ground levels. Phosphates, nitrates and other nutrients would just be scattered into the atmospheric dust, which already contains such compounds.
Chaff - This is material that the military occasionally discharges into the atmosphere during combat and training excises. Chaff is intended to distract or obscure radar by providing false returns from reflective material. Traditionally, chaff has been composed primarily of strips of metallic foil, but more modern chaff is often composed of thin fibers with a metallic coating. Chaff may be dropped in large amounts over a wide area to obscure aircraft movements or may be deployed in bursts by an aircraft attempting to evade radar-based defenses such as surface to air missiles.
When deployed, chafe tends to remain in the air for a relatively short period of time. It is therefore necessary that the material be dropped repeatedly over the same area. However, the exact period of time it is aloft depends on altitude and wind patterns. A common way of dispersing chaff is to have it packed into small containers with a explosive charge that blows it out in a burst. An aircraft could be equipped with several of these containers for use in evading radar-based defenses. It may also be dispersed by flares which aid in evading infrared-seeking missiles while dispersing chaff to confound radar.
Chaff does eventually make its way to the ground and is fairly harmless once it does, although it has caused problems when it has been blown into substations or other electrical infrastructure. During its time in the air, chaff does occasionally show up on weather radar or other radar systems. The image to the right shows chaff returns from a military training exercise on a regional weather radar screen.
The length of the fibers or strips used depends on the frequency of the radar which is being targeted. On the battlefield, a variety of lengths are used to help obscure a wide range of possible radar frequencies. However, the chaff used during training over inhabited areas is restricted to sizes that minimize the possible effects on air traffic control radar.
There have been biological warfare programs, but none were ever based on the idea of spraying biological agents at high altitudes by jet aircraft.
There have been chemical warfare programs, but none were ever based on the idea of spraying chemical agents at high altitudes by jet aircraft.
There have been weather modification programs, but none were ever based on the idea of spraying weather modification agents at high altitudes by jet aircraft.
There have been aircraft-based herbicide and insecticide programs, but none ever used high altitude jet aircraft.
In all cases, this would be a poor way of getting significant concentrations of the materials to ground levels or would not have any significant effects on weather.
This entry was posted on Saturday, November 5th, 2011 at 6:29 pm and is filed under Bad Science, Conspiracy Theories, Culture, History, Just LAME, Misc, Not Even Wrong. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
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