The Miraculous Substance Of Radium Girls

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In the early 1900’s radium was “the latest miracle substance” (Hersher & Blum, 2014). Salesmen promised that it extended lifespans, increased sex drive, made women more beautiful, and had many other fantastic effects. The world was infatuated with radium and displayed this by putting it in slews of items including face cream, bread, chocolate, suppositories, toy sets for children, drinking water (as shown in figure 1), toothpaste, watch faces, and many more products. (List from scribal.com, 2007) It was used often in pharmaceuticals and described by advertisers as “nature’s way to health.” “Doctors used it to treat everything from colds to cancer.” (Hersher & Blum, 2014) However, the “magical” substance that was radium turned out to…show more content…
Figure 3 shows a factory worker who suffered from a lethal chin sarcoma. She was but one of all the factory workers who suffered as a direct result of radium poisoning. "There was one woman who the dentist went to pull a tooth and he pulled her entire jaw out when he did it, their legs broke underneath them. Their spines collapsed.” (Hersher & Blum, 2014) says Deborah Blum, the author of the novel The Poisoners Handbook. Most of the women were dead before age 30, others suffered longer and died soon after. It is now known that radium, shown in figure 4, is a potent carcinogen (a substance the cause’s cancer (Wilbraham, Staley, Marta, & Waterman, 2005)). It emits a form of ionizing radiation which “includes electromagnetic radiation (e.g., gamma rays and X-rays) as well as particles (e.g., alpha particles, beta particles, high-speed neutrons, high-speed electrons, high-speed protons, etc.)” (National Library of Medicine, n.d.). Acute studies have been done on the effects of radium exposure on the human body by organizations like the Geneva World Health Organization, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, and Monographs on the Evaluation of the Carcinogenic Risk of Chemicals to Man. As a result of their findings, The National Library of Medicine states that sufficient evidence has been provided showing that prolonged exposure to Raduim-224, Radium-226,

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