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Clinical Findings In 111 Ex-Porton Down Volunteers
  1. Harry A Lee, Head of Porton Down Volunteers’ Medical Assessment Programme1,
  2. Roger Gabriel, Consultant Physician1,
  3. Amanda J Bale, Database Manager1 and
  4. Dawn Welch, Database Assistant1
  1. 1Baird Health Centre, Gassiot House St Thomas’ Hospital London SE1 7EH map{at}


Objective To determine whether the health of Porton Down volunteers (PDV) has suffered as a result of their participation in medical trials, during which they were exposed to single low dose concentrations of chemical warfare agents.

Methods Data were obtained from a self-selected series of ex-Porton Down volunteers who attended the MOD’s Porton Down Volunteers’ Medical Assessment Programme (PDVMAP). One hundred and eleven men attended with a mean age of 62 (range 37-81) years. Information obtained was analysed to determine whether clinical diagnoses and symptoms reported had any relationship to chemical exposures.

Results The diagnoses were not unusual for UK nationals with a mean age of 62 years. The majority of volunteers went to Porton Down in the 1950s and then had a mean age of 19. The mean time between volunteers attending Porton Down and coming to MAP was 42 years. We found no correlation between chemical exposures and later development of established diagnoses, a latent period of 30 years.

Conclusion On a clinical basis, no evidence was found to support the hypothesis that participation in Porton Down trials produced any long-term adverse health effects or unusual patterns of disease compared to those of the general population of the same age.

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