X-Radium Cooking Utensils

Here is a fascinating short monograph (a PDF) about the Radium craze, including a discussion of the product above.
     Posted By: Paul - Mon Jul 19, 2021
     Category: Death | Domestic | Really Bad Ideas | Twentieth Century

Thanks for the link, good stuff. Way back when I was working and responsible for haz-mat response I got interested in radioactive materials. One of the items for display during a class at the Nevada Test Site was FiestaWare in which the glaze contained uranium.
Posted by Steve E. on 07/19/21 at 03:54 PM
The scariest thing I've run across from that time is that there was a company in Chicago which purified radium for watch and clock dials. They processed a huge amount of ore by means we consider very inefficient and quite hazardous.

What's scary is the location of the company offices are known but not where they worked with it beyond it being a warehouse in a general part of the city (South?). Industrial sanitation and waste disposal being what it was at the time, they might have buried the tailings anywhere. It was in operation long enough, their wastewater had to soak deeply into the soil.

Several times, authorities have prowled all likely areas with Geiger counters but came up empty.

Someday, someone's going to tear down a building and find it was built on that site, trapping the contamination. It's going to be an absolute nightmare.
Posted by Phideaux on 07/20/21 at 12:08 AM
While taking a course in Oak Ridge, TN; this business was discussed one day. The instructor said that the women who applied the radium paint to the dials and numbers used a small tip paint brush. To keep the brush bristles sharp to a point these employees would wet the bristles in their mouth and drag it between their lips. They did suffer medical issues from this action.

The class was 20+ years ago so I do not remember what exactly those issues were, sorry.
Posted by Steve E. on 07/20/21 at 03:15 PM
'The Radium Girls' by Kate Moore tells the history of the young women hired to paint watch dials with radium. From what I remember, their medical issues were pretty horrific: beginning with intense jaw pain, sores that never healed, and proceeding to teeth falling out, and finally parts of their jaw coming out. Finally death. Doctors at the time could do absolutely nothing to help them.
Posted by Alex on 07/20/21 at 07:17 PM
@Alex. Thank you for the information. Your recitation of the medical problems triggered the memory from that class lecture. A local book store has copies of the book, so I can pick up one now. If one searches for the title and author a picture can be found of a young lady pulling a brush thru her lips. We were also told that some of the ladies would apply the radium paint as a glow in the dark decoration.
Posted by Steve E. on 07/21/21 at 10:41 AM
I remember seeing a picture of the purification process. They used a glass tube to blow into a mixture in a basin (oxygenating it? breaking down layers?). There were two rows of basins, and a man was leaning over the first row to get to one in the back. Impossible to calculate actual exposure, but I imagine it had to be equivalent to receiving between a dozen and a hundred chest x-rays a day. Think of what the company was saving by not having to pay retirement benefits!
Posted by Phideaux on 07/21/21 at 11:29 AM

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