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The Radium Girls: A "Jaw-Dropping" Tale

Workers' bodies deteriorate from a "Harmless" chemical



After its discovery in 1898, radium became a popular additive for commercial companies to use in their products. It was incorporated into everything from hair gel to beverages.


Around the time WW1 was ending, many women secured high-paying jobs with United States Radium Corporation painting radium onto the dials of watches.


The women were instructed to point their paintbrushes by placing the tips in their mouths in between dipping the brushes into the self-luminescent radium paint.


they were assured that this process was completely harmless.


some of the women even painted their nails and teeth with the paint for an extra glow, before leaving work for a night out.


It only took a few years before lesions and ulcers began appearing on the skin of the women, and their teeth started to fall out. One woman's jaw deteriorated and eventually had to be pulled out entirely.


Five of the women suffering from radium poisoning filed a lawsuit against United States Radium Corporation, inspiring women working for similar companies to do the same. Unfortunately, not all of these women would survive long enough to witness the outcome of their cases.


These woman became known as the Radium Girls. Their stories left a legacy and set forth reforms on industrial health and occupational safety laws that we have today.




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