The Radium Girls: the dark story of America's shining women by Kate Moore

Mon, 06/05/2017 - 3:10pm -- JGranatino

In the early 1900s, radium was considered the new "wonder" material although many of its effects were still unknown. As the world turned its attention to WWI, hundreds of young women, some as young as 13, were employed in three studios in New Jersey, Illinois and Connecticut painting luminescent dials for watches and aeronautic equipment. Unknown to the girls, this paint contained a minute amount of radium. The young women were reassured that the paint was completely safe and were trained to "lip point" which meant that with each application of the material, they put the tip of the brush in their mouths to make a perfect point, creating hundreds of glowing dials per day and ingesting small amounts of radium with each lip point. Within a few years, the girls showed signs of a mysterious illness involving their teeth, jaws and bones. It took many years, and lives, before the public was made aware of radium poisoning, and the young women suffered terribly from this incurable disease. Radium Girls is a well-researched, touching account of their struggle for truth and compensation for their suffering which brought a scandalous cover-up to light and paved the way for improved workers' rights.

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