I could not stop reading Radium Girls by Kate Moore. The story follows several courageous women who fight to be heard and effect change, after they are struck by a mysterious illness they claim was related to their job.
Shortly after radium was discovered by Madame Currie it is hailed as a miracle. It is in everything, people are encouraged to take radium pills for vitality, ingest radium water, it was in toothpaste, and in children’s toys. One of the more practical ways to capitalize on this miracle element was to paint watch numbers so they would glow in the dark. The brushes needed to do this detailed work were very fine, so between each application the workers, mostly young women, would place the brushes in their mouths to straighten the fibers. As a result of this practice the women ingested copious amounts of radium and in time, the women themselves began to glow.
Flash forward several years, some of the women have left the company and they are sick with mysterious aliments. Some are hospitalized after shuffling around from doctor to doctor trying to find a cure for their mysterious condition. They are saddled with insurmountable medical bills and they are, dying. But form what? and better yet where did it come from?
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