Four Scientists, Two Undergraduates Risk Death in Monoxide Experiments
Men Subject Themselves To Gas To Determine Effects On Motorists
Four scientists working at the Harvard Fatigue Laboratory together with two undergraduates, have been undergoing the risk of death or a loss of sanity by exposing themselves to carbon monoxide gas. The tests are being made in order to ascertain further the effects of the gas on motorists.
This is the first time that any experiments of this sort have been carried on, it is believed. Although the noxious quality of the gas has been known for some time, no one heretofore has knowingly subjected himself to its effects.
Those making the test are Harry DeSilva of the Traffic Research Bureau, David B. Dill, associate professor of Industrial Psychology, Dr. William H. Forbes of the Fatigue Laboratory, and F. M. Van Deventer of the Cities Service Refining Company, as well as the two students who have not been named.
Forbes has been the subject of most of the experiments. The plan of the experiments has been to inject the gas into the room in which the subject was seated and then to apply a number of driving tests which have been worked out by DeSilva. These tests include brake reaction, depth perception, the ability to see dim objects at the side of a bright light, the ability to perceive the approach or recession of objects, and accuracy of steering.
The experiments were made after research by Van Deventer that about five per cent of all cars or enclosed trucks on the road admit some amount of the gas into them. It was determined that the presence of one part of the gas in a thousand parts of the air would cause the average man to faint after inhaling the mixture for from half an hour, if he was sitting still. If moving around, the time for the mixture to have effect would be even less.
No effect is felt until the blood is more than a third saturated with air, at which point a sudden breakdown may occur any time. Forbes, in taking one of the tests, passed successfully, but afterwards fainted without the slightest premonition that he was in danger. He was revived only by quick action, and it was found that his blood had been more than half saturated with carbon monoxide gas.