The Radium Girls

07 Jul


Marie and Pierre Curie experimenting with radium, a drawing by: André Castaigne
This drawing is said to be considered: Public Domain


A good friend on Facebook alerted me to this vital information this morning and because it has been an important part of my past, I felt compelled to share it here.

This ugly story is about yet another way that Humans have caused mortal harm often, with little concern, to their fellow Humans.

Years ago, we had Native Friends in the East who had developed severe physical afflictions from growing up in Arizona during the time when Uranium mining  was being  done with little regard to the effect it would have on Humans, primarily the Native people who lived near the mining areas there.

This was not the only instance of US mining processes harming Native people, there were many others, all just as deadly.

From the information gleaned from my searches this morning, it seems that we have a lengthy history in this country of deliberate neglect, and willful intent to harm others on a regular basis and shamefully for profit.

This is the story of the women, most of who worked in the Eastern United States, New Jersey to be exact, in factories making products often for the US Government, that would in a very short time and after great suffering on their part, end their lives.

They, without their consent or knowledge, were being poisoned by radiation from Radium.

At this time in our early US history, many people freely used, or worked with and handled, this what is now known to be deadly substance.

Even Marie Curie the renowned Polish Scientist, who won two Nobel Prizes, one in Chemistry and one in Physics, was not exempt from their lethal effects.

She was not only the first woman to win one, but she was also the only woman to win two!

After a lifetime of one brilliant accomplishment after another, sadly, her work with this very dangerous substance, Radium, would eventually cause her death.

Her development of  aplastic anemia was said to be linked to  her bad  habit of carrying toxic, radioactive isotope test tubes in her lab coat pockets.

Tragically, Madame Curie, like the other Radium Girls, would in the end, succumb to the very evil that she had helped to discover.


Places to learn more:

‘Radium Girls’ Remembered for Role in Shaping US Labor Law

Marie Curie

Uranium mining in Arizona

Mae Keane, One Of The Last ‘Radium Girls,’ Dies At 107

Medicine: Radium Women

The Radium Girls

The Radium Girls and the Generation that brushed its Teeth with Radioactive Toothpaste

U tube video – Radium City

Radium Girls



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14 responses to “The Radium Girls

  1. Karen DeBraal

    July 7, 2015 at 6:26 PM

    Wow, lots of great links to learn more. Thanks for letting people know.

    • Gator Woman

      July 8, 2015 at 8:59 AM

      You may take all of the credit for this dear one. You were the one who told me about the subject.

  2. sachemspeaks

    July 9, 2015 at 2:31 PM

    Reblogged this on sachemspeaks.

    • Gator Woman

      July 9, 2015 at 2:35 PM

      Thank you so much for sharing this story with your followers~

  3. Carol A. Hand

    July 16, 2015 at 1:54 PM

    Thank you for letting me know about this important post, Donna. It’s alarming to realize how long corporations have been exposing communities and workers to known dangers and toxins and lying about that knowledge for the sake of profits.

    • Gator Woman

      July 16, 2015 at 2:35 PM

      A FB friend was the inspiration for this story.
      Years ago, we had two very dear friends back East who were very affected. It broke our hearts.

      • Carol A. Hand

        July 16, 2015 at 2:41 PM

        I’m so sorry to hear about your firends. Your post honors their suffering and courage while it raises awareness.

      • Gator Woman

        July 16, 2015 at 2:43 PM

        It was heart breaking to watch them dance as afflicted as they were. Our Government cared nothing for the Reservation people. They knew what they were doing with the mines in Arizona and did it anyway!

      • Carol A. Hand

        July 16, 2015 at 2:45 PM

        I agree, and so many other destructive things as well…

  4. Carol A. Hand

    July 16, 2015 at 2:15 PM

    I also want to thank you for sharing such important links, Donna. It was fascinating to learn more about the lives of the women affected by dangerous work conditions that needlessly heightened the risks to their health and lives.

    • Gator Woman

      July 16, 2015 at 2:39 PM

      Yes, agreed.
      The horror of Radium in the workplace was all new to me and it was quite an awful shock.

      • Carol A. Hand

        July 16, 2015 at 2:44 PM

        I remember loving my glowing clock and watch. I also remember watching my wiggling toes in the x-ray machines in shoe stores, and handling toxic cumulative poisons without protective gloves (the universal solvents used to clean test tubes in the old days – acetone and carbon tetrachloride). I suspect that I glow in the dark as a result…

      • Gator Woman

        July 16, 2015 at 2:55 PM

        OMG, I truly hope not!!!!!!

      • Carol A. Hand

        July 16, 2015 at 3:00 PM

        It was many years ago with no adverse health effects. I’m much more concerned about the craziness of what’s happening in the world today, and in the southwest (Jade Helm 15)!


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