Ingesting radium: an outrageously dangerous job

Nowadays we’re all aware of the insane dangers of radioactivity. So, if you came across a job description asking you to “swallow small amounts of a highly toxic and radioactive substance all day long, 5 days a week“, you certainly wouldn’t apply, right?

As crazy as it sounds, this job used to exist! American women in the 1910s painted watch dials with a special radium-based paint that glowed in the dark.

These women kept their brushes pointy by constantly licking them, without knowing that the radium they were bringing into their bodies was extremely dangerous!

If you want to learn about the Radium Girls, the tragic health effects they faced and their brave fight for justice, the following book is a must read!

The Radium Girls by Kate Moore

Further reads

If you are looking for related books, why don’t you try Half Lives by @lucyjanesantos?

Half Lives by Lucy Jane Santos.
Photo taken with permission from the author from her Twitter feed.

Related videos, films TV series

If reading isn’t your thing or if you want to complement your learning with other media, do check out the following recommendations!

1. The Radium Girls film Trailer

Film to be released later in 2020, postponed due to COVID

2. Radioactive

Watch Rosamund Pike starring as Marie Curie, the famous Nobel Laureate and discoverer of Radium.

3. Chernobyl TV Series

Learn about the terrible nuclear disaster that took place in the Ukrainian part of the USSR in 1986, releasing a radioactive cloud that eventually expanded to other European countries. 

4. The Fukushima nuclear disaster

On March 2011 Japan was hit by a devastating earthquake and tsunami. The Fukushima nuclear power plant was hit badly and ended up with several dangerous explosions and nuclear meltdowns.

This video from The Infographics Show does some pretty good explaining of what actually happened!

Additional references