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Michael Palmer - Hiroshima Deaths Due to Mustard Gas

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“Both my mother and I had been through a great deal of strain during this time … and then we also started to feel listless and began to lose our hair because we had breathed the gases when the atom bomb fell.”

“We breathed the gases when the atom bomb fell”

Eyewitness testimony of mustard gas use in Hiroshima

by Michael Palmer, MD

In previous posts on this website [footnotes 1,2] and elsewhere [3,4], I have argued that no nuclear bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. However, many cases of acute radiation sickness were reported from both cities. How can we explain these?

I believe that these cases were caused not by radiation but rather by mustard gas, a chemical warfare agent that mimics the effects of radiation. Here, I present eyewitness testimony which supports this thesis. Objective medical evidence which confirms it will be discussed in a subsequent post.

Figure 1: Spontaneous subcutaneous bleeding (left) and hair loss (right) in two bombing victims from Hiroshima. Bleeding is due to the lack of blood platelets, which in turn is caused by bone marrow failure. Like the cells in the bone marrow, those in the hair follicles divide rapidly and thus are particularly susceptible to DNA-damaging agents such as radiation and mustard gas.

1. On mustard gas

Mustard gas, or sulfur mustard was first used during World War 1. Even though introduced only in 1917, it caused more casualties than any of the previously used battle gases. A key reason for this high lethality is that it bypasses the protection afforded by gas masks by attacking the skin, which it causes to blister, and is also taken up quite effectively across the skin. In those not protected by gas masks, it causes severe lung damage; this was reported in Iranian soldiers exposed to mustard gas used by Iraq in the war between the two countries [5].

Aside from causing acute damage to the skin and the lungs, mustard gas mimics the destructive effects of radiation on rapidly proliferating tissues such as the bone marrow, the hair follicles, and the intestinal mucous membranes. This similarity was recognized clinically as early as 1919 [6-8]. With both radiation and mustard gas, the underlying mechanism is now understood to be DNA damage.

The U.S. military had stockpiled mustard gas during World War 2 and also filled it into aerial bombs [9]. Thus, it would have been prepared for its use in the bombings of both cities.

2. Testimony which supports the use of mustard gas in the “atomic” bombings

Eyewitness reports which suggest the use of mustard gas are not in short supply. The possibility that poison gas had been released at Hiroshima was brought up early on by Dr. Masao Tsuzuki, the leading Japanese member on the U.S.-Japanese “Joint Commission” of medical scientists convened to investigate the aftermath of the bombing. The historian Sey Nishimura [10] quotes from a 1945 article by Tsuzuki:

“Immediately after the explosion of the atomic bomb, some gas permeated, which appeared like white smoke with stimulating odor. Many reported that when inhaled, it caused acute sore throat or suffocating pain.”

The first Western journalist to report from Hiroshima, the Australian Wilfred Burchett [11], also brings up poison gas:

“My nose detected a peculiar odour unlike anything I have ever smelled before. It is something like sulphur, but not quite. I could smell it when I passed a fire that was still smouldering, or at a spot where they were still recovering bodies from the wreckage. But I could also smell it where everything was still deserted.”

According to Burchett, the Japanese he spoke to believe that the smell is given off by the poisonous gas still issuing from the earth soaked with radioactivity released by the split uranium atom, and he reports that the Japanese then engaged in clearing the debris from the city centre were wearing gauze masks over their faces to protect themselves from the gas.

Among 105 witnesses who experienced the Hiroshima bombing as school age children, and whose memories were collected and published by the Japanese teacher Arata [12], 13 explicitly mention poisonous gas or fumes. One of them, Hisato Itoh, died of leukaemia shortly after writing his account, which contains this statement:

“Both my mother and I had been through a great deal of strain during this time … and then we also started to feel listless and began to lose our hair because we had breathed the gases when the atom bomb fell.”

Here are some more quotes by several other schoolchildren:

Tokiko Wada: “But Grandpa had breathed poisonous gas when the atom bomb fell and he got sick and went to the hospital. He died one night a little later and we had a funeral for him.”

Satomi Kanekuni: “On August 6 when the bomb fell, Father and Mother were living in Yanagi-machi. They were trapped by the house when it fell down and inhaled poisonous gas.”

Junya Kojima: “When I was five years old, there was the atom bomb explosion. My father was at his office then. I guess he breathed in poison gas … he soon died.”

Yohko Kuwabara: “Just then, I was blinded for a moment by piercing flash of bright light, and the air filled with yellow smoke like poison gas.

Yoshiaki Wada: My mother … breathed the poison gas from the atom bomb. That’s why she was so bad.”

While not all of these reports point to mustard gas specifically, the respiratory symptoms and the hair loss mentioned in some of them are both quite suggestive. So is the sulfuric smell reported by Burchett in early September; both the smell itself and its long persistence point to mustard gas.

It is also rather striking how most of these witnesses draw a straight line from the atom bomb to the poisonous gas; it appears that they have been led to believe that atomic bombs somehow give rise to poisonous gas, which is untrue. The same error even found its way into the medical literature [13, p. 464]:

“Tsuzuki (1951) divided atom-bomb injuries into burns, traumas, and radiation injuries. Kajitano and Hatano (1953) … proposed a fourth type in addition: atom-bomb gas injuries, which they attributed to the effect of residual radioactivity.”

3. How can we decide between radiation and mustard gas effects in Hiroshima?

Here, we can distinguish effects of nuclear radiation that should have been observed but were not, and effects of mustard gas that were observed but should not have been. There are compelling examples of both kinds of evidence. However, Henry has admonished me to keep this short; therefore, I must defer a discussion of this evidence to another time.

In response to my questions. Michael wrote-

Physical damage: they used some strong airbursts, apparently, but most of the damage was apparently caused by conventional incendiaries. This is also how engineer de Seversky describes it, who visited both cities early in September 1945.

 Was there no mushroom cloud?

There was — must have been fireworks of sorts. See

The cloud is discussed under Section 13.1.4


1. Palmer, M. (2020) Japan Nuclear Attacks Were Faked (

2. Palmer, M. (2023) Smoking Gun! No Nuclear Bombs Were Dropped on Japan (

3. Palmer, M. (2020) Hiroshima revisited: the evidence that napalm and mustard gas helped fake the atomic bombings (

4. Palmer, M. (2023) The truth about the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (

5. Freitag, L. et al. (1991) The role of bronchoscopy in pulmonary complications due to mustard gas inhalation. Chest 100:1436-41 (

6. Krumbhaar, E.B. and Krumbhaar, H.D. (1919) The Blood and Bone Marrow in Yellow Cross Gas (Mustard Gas) Poisoning: Changes produced in the Bone Marrow of Fatal Cases. J. Med.

Res. 40:497-508.3 (

7. Pappenheimer, A.M. and Vance, M. (1920) The Effects Of Intravenous Injections Of Dichloroethylsulfide In Rabbits, With Special Reference To Its Leucotoxic Action. J. Exp. Med. 31:71-94 (

8. Warthin, A.S. and Weller, C.V. (1919) The medical aspects of mustard gas poisoning (Mosby) (

9. Anonymous, (1947) U.S. Explosive Ordnance (U.S. Navy Bureau of Ordnance) (

10. Nishimura, S. (1995) Censorship of the atomic bomb casualty reports in occupied Japan. A complete ban vs temporary delay. JAMA 274:520-2 (

11. Burchett, W.G. (2007) The atomic plague in: Rebel journalism: the writings of Wilfred Burchett ( This report first appeared under the name ‘Peter Burchett’ in the Daily Express on September fifth, 1945.

12. (ed.: Osada, A.) (1980) Children of Hiroshima (Publishing Committee for “Children of Hiroshima”) (

13. Watanabe, S. (ed.: Grundmann, E.) (1974) Cancer and leukemia developing among atomic bomb survivors in: Handbuch der allgemeinen Pathology [Handbook of general pathology] (Springer).



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