A New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal Bestseller!
"the glowing ghosts of the radium girls haunt us still."—NPR Books
The incredible true story of the women who fought America’s Undark danger
The Curies’ newly discovered element of radium makes gleaming headlines across the nation as the fresh face of beauty, and wonder drug of the medical community. From body lotion to tonic water, the popular new element shines bright in the otherwise dark years of the First World War.
Meanwhile, hundreds of girls toil amidst the glowing dust of the radium-dial factories. The glittering chemical covers their bodies from head to toe; they light up the night like industrious fireflies. With such a coveted job, these “shining girls” are the luckiest alive — until they begin to fall mysteriously ill.
But the factories that once offered golden opportunities are now ignoring all claims of the gruesome side effects, and the women’s cries of corruption. And as the fatal poison of the radium takes hold, the brave shining girls find themselves embroiled in one of the biggest scandals of America’s early 20th century, and in a groundbreaking battle for workers’ rights that will echo for centuries to come.
Written with a sparkling voice and breakneck pace, The Radium Girls fully illuminates the inspiring young women exposed to the “wonder” substance of radium, and their awe-inspiring strength in the face of almost impossible circumstances. Their courage and tenacity led to life-changing regulations, research into nuclear bombing, and ultimately saved hundreds of thousands of lives...
The Radium Girls were female factory workers who contracted radiation poisoning from painting watch dials with self-luminous paint. The painting was done by women at three different United States Radium factories, and the term now applies to the women working at the facilities: one in Orange, New Jersey, beginning around 1917; one in Ottawa, Illinois, beginning in the early 1920s; and a third facility in Waterbury, Connecticut. The women in each facility had been told the paint was harmless, and subsequently ingested deadly amounts of radium after being instructed to "point" their brushes on their lips in order to give them a fine tip; some also painted their fingernails, face and teeth with the glowing substance. The women were instructed to point their brushes in this way, because using rags or a water rinse caused them to use more time and material, which was made from powdered radium, gum arabic and water. Five of the women in New Jersey challenged their employer in a case over the right of individual workers who contract occupational diseases to sue their employers under New Jersey's occupational injuries law, which at the time had a two-year statute of limitations, but settled out of court in 1928. Five women in Illinois who were employees of the Radium Dial Company (which was unaffiliated with the United States Radium Corporation) sued their employer under Illinois law, winning damages in 1938...
One of the most disturbing books to read on dip, lip, and paint, to put radium on the watch dials to glow at night, and no wonder these women died such gruesome and hideous deaths!! And what their families had to endure in trying to get help and sue for medical bills and pay for funerals. A must read!! 55
Wow. Wow. Wow. I am not one to read about non-fiction things like this, but I could not put this book down. The way this book is written is insanely captivating. I experienced so many emotions while reading, it left me speechless, I was horrified, sickened, angered, saddened, and more. Anger. I even cried at some points. This is a story worth hearing, reading, knowing. READ THIS BOOK. 55
One of the best books I’ve read in a long time. 55