How the Radium Girls Helped Shape Occupational Safety and Health

Radium Girls

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Kate More of BuzzFeed released a brilliant article on women who were occupationally exposed to radium. This piece details the history of the women who were assigned to work at the United States Radium Corporation, painting radium on watches and military dials.

Here are some highlights:

  • Hundreds of women were hired to work with radium.  They were told it was completely safe.
  • Employees were taught to slip the paintbrushes between their lips to make a fine point.
  • The exposure created tumors in the workers the size of footballs.
  • The company denied any responsibility and commissioned fake studies saying the health problems were not related.
  • The link between radium exposure and health problems was not taken seriously until men were taken ill.
  • This investigation into this led to one of the first cases where an employer was found responsible for the health of the company's employees.


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