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Radium Girls Were Badly Poisoned By Radium Jaw Disease

Radium Girls were badly poisoned by radium jaw controversy was also demonstrated and proven right by the death of American golfer and industrialist Eben Byers in 1932, who died after consuming huge doses of Radithor (a radioactive patent medicine that contained radium) several years after being exposed to it.

His condition received a great deal of attention, and the issue of radioactive quack remedies was brought to the public's attention. The Wall Street Journal published a tale (in 1989 or later) titled "The Radium Water Worked Fine till His Jaw Came Off" in which the main character's jaw was amputated.

A group photo of radium girls
A group photo of radium girls

The condition was identified as indicative of radium paint ingestion by pathologist Dr. H.S. Martland in 1924 after a large number of female workers from several radium paint companies experienced comparable dental and mandibular pain. There were symptoms in the mouth as a result of using the lips and tongue to maintain the radium-paint paintbrushes suitably formed while painting with radium paint. The condition was the primary motivation for the Radium Girls' legal action against the United States Radium Corporation, which was filed in 1989.

Phossy Jaw

Phossy Jaw is a disorder that is comparable to osteoporotic and osteonecrotic illness that occurs in matchgirls and is caused by excessive phosphorus ingestion and absorption. Dr. Theodor Blum, a dentist from New York City, made the first recorded mention of the condition in 1924 when he described unique mandibular osteomyelitis in a dial painter, which he dubbed "radium jaw."

Radium necrosis, also known as radium jaw, is a historic occupational disease due to ingestion and subsequent accumulation of radium into the bones of radium dial painters. It also had an effect on those who were taking patent medicines that contained radium. Affected areas of the mandible (lower jawbone) and maxilla (upper jawbone) necrose, causing persistent bleeding of the gums, and (typically) severe deformation due to bone tumors and porosity of the lower jaw over a period of time.

Individual workers who contract occupational diseases are entitled to claim their staff members under New Jersey's occupational injuries law, which at the time had a two-year statute of limitations. A case involving five women in New Jersey challenged their employer's right to sue their employer, but the case was settled out of court in 1928. Five women from Illinois who worked for the Radium Dial Company (which was unaffiliated with the United States Radium Corporation) filed a lawsuit against their employer in 1938 and were awarded damages.

Radium jaw treatment of a lady with X-ray therapy
Radium jaw treatment of a lady with X-ray therapy

Radium Girls

After being assured that the paint was not harmful, the women in each facility ingested lethal doses of radium since being commanded to "point" their brushes on their lips in terms of giving them a fine tip; some also painted their fingernails, faces, and teeth with the glowing substance after being assured that it was harmless. Because the paint was produced from powdered radium, gum arabic, and water, the ladies were advised to point their brushes in this direction because using rags or a water rinse would result in them wasting more time and material than they needed to, so it resulted in the condition in which Radium Girls were badly poisoned by radium jaw.

The Radium Girls were a group of female manufacturing employees who became ill after painting watch dials with self-luminous paint, which exposed them to radiation. Three factories produced the paintings, and the term now refers to the women who worked in them: one in Orange, New Jersey, which began operations around 1917; another in Ottawa, Illinois, which began operations around 1920; and the third facility in Waterbury, Connecticut, which opened its doors around the same time as the first.

What Happened To Radium Girls Jaws?

As depicted in the Radium Girls movie on Netflix, the genuine Radium Girls were poisoned at their places of employment, and many of them had radium jaw (a severe bone disease that causes the mandible and maxilla to disintegrate), anemia, and bone fractures as a result of their exposure.

Many of these laborers had bone cancer, which typically manifested itself in their jaws. Scientists and medical experts eventually discovered that the ailments suffered by these workers were caused by internal pollution caused by the radium they had consumed during their employment. By the 1970s, radium dials on watches and clocks were no longer being utilized.

The majority of radium's applications have been supplanted by other radioactive substances or radiation-producing equipment. Although radium is no longer in widespread usage, it is still employed in a few areas, such as industrial radiography.

People on Reddit are discussing this radium jaw disease and radium girls, they had their opinions and suggestions. Check them out:

"Tumor in the jaw wasnt always the result, the usual result was necrosis causing the jaw to literally rot, often coming out in pieces. One of the women kept a chunk that had come out of her own mouth in a drawer and later used it as an exhibit in one of the trials. The women were subject to several physicals by the company that tests radiation levels but they deliberately lied to the women, telling them that they were in good health."

_PebblestheHuman

"Catherine Donahue fought Radium Dial in the courts for over a decade. She testified in court with a piece of her jaw, which was so damaged the doctor just “lifted it right out”. She weighed just 70 pounds or so when she testified for the state supreme court, and died three weeks later."

_throaway_account178

"And luckily they won the fight, depsite the company making several appeals.

Apparently, this was one of the first cases in history (in the USA at least) where a company was held responsible for the health and safety of it's employees, and it basically caused the creation of what became the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. It's sad that laws only change after tragedies have already happened, but I do think it is a quite interesting fact.

The story of the radium girls is so tragic, but the way those women fought and never gave up even on their death beds, and ended up transforming the system is very inspiring, and especially when considering how the view of women was also different back then. I only recently learned of this whole tragedy, but I truly hope their stories will never be forgotten."

_Weak_Fruit

Conclusion

Radium has an unusually long half-life, 1,600 years, which means that it is still present in the skeletal bones of radium girls as the Radium Girls were badly poisoned by radium jaw. It was discovered that their bodies are still radioactive when a scientist with a Geiger counter walked over several of the Radium Girls' graves, indicating that they continue to glow in the ground to this day.

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