Discovery Store
Photo for mythbusters mailbag about chemtrails
Mythbusters Mailbag: Contrails or Chemtrails
We get a lot of questions here at Discovery Channel Canada about myths you'd like too see busted. While Adam and Jamie can't answer all of these directly, our panel of experts is standing by to put your queries under the scientific lens. For more mailbag goodies, click here. And to submit a myth or a question, click here.

Question: "The trails seen behind airplanes are not actually contrails, but are in fact "chemtrails," a part of a conspiracy by the government to poison its own population. Is this really happening?"

Status: Busted!

You can blame the X-Files, you can blame Orson Welles, or you can blame the JFK theorists: conspiracy theories, even the ones that are patently ridiculous, have a stranglehold on popular culture.

Add the chemtrail conspiracy to this list.

This conspiracy holds that the contrails thrown off by commercial jets contain chemicals that serve to dumb down the population, or at the very least control it. The theorists noticed that some con
trails don't behave the way they are supposed to, forming strange shapes as they diffuse.

Randall Martin, an atmospheric scientist at Dalhousie University, offers two reasons that suggest this conspiracy is nothing more than hot air.

First, he points out that adding a payload of chemicals to a jetliner costs money, "which would certainly undermine profitability."

Most importantly, Martin stresses that scientists like him are very interested in what's in the atmosphere. "I'm involved in a large number of experiments," he said. "We measure the suite of pollutants in the atmosphere down to the trillionth of a millimeter. If an aircraft were intentionally polluting, we would notice it."

researched by Haig Balian
Show image