[ RadSafe ] Last surviving Radium Girl celebrates 100th birthday

John Jacobus crispy_bird at yahoo.com
Wed Jun 14 08:00:06 CDT 2006

Interesting.  I see no information on dosage, which
makes this just an interesting story.  

--- Susan Gawarecki <loc at icx.net> wrote:

> Last surviving Radium Girl celebrates 100th birthday
> By Robyn Adams, Republican-American  |  June 1, 2006
> WATERBURY, Conn. --Mae Keane, the last surviving
> Radium Girl, was all 
> aglow as she celebrated her 100th birthday recently.
> At age 18, fresh out of Wilby High School, she went
> to work at the old 
> Waterbury Clock Co. factory off Cherry Street. She
> was among the women 
> dubbed the Radium Girls after the greenish radium
> paint used to make the 
> watch dials glow in the dark. It later caused
> significant health 
> problems for many. They were encouraged to apply the
> paint by moistening 
> the bristles on their lips before dipping the brush
> into the paint.
> Though Keane worked at the clock factory just a
> couple of months, she 
> lost her teeth and suffered skin and eye problems.
> Doctors could never 
> pinpoint the exact cause of her ailments. "I don't
> think the bosses even 
> knew it was poison," she said. "The foreman would
> tell us it was very 
> expensive, and to be careful. We had no idea. But
> when they did find 
> out, they hid it."
> Radium is a naturally occurring radioactive material
> used from the 1900s 
> to the 1940s to paint glow-in-the-dark dials on
> clocks, watches and 
> aircraft navigation equipment. Significant exposure
> can cause leukemia 
> and anemia and has been linked to cancer of the
> bones, mouth and sinus 
> cavities.
> About 20 Waterbury Clock factory workers, mostly
> women hired because of 
> their smaller fingers, died from exposure to radium
> in 1927.
> "The girls (sneaked) the radium to paint their toe
> nails to make them 
> glow," Keane said.
> Perhaps it is her sense of humor that has helped her
> live a long life. 
> The only prescription medication she takes is to
> control her blood 
> pressure, though she was diagnosed with colon cancer
> at one point. "The 
> doctor wanted to give me chemotherapy," Keane said.
> "I told him 'no.' I 
> wanted radium." After five weeks of radiation, she
> was on the mend.
> Keane isn't quite sure what led her to work at the
> clock factory. The 
> pay was $18 a week for a 40-hour work week, and the
> women earned an 
> average of six cents for each dial painted.
> In 2004, Keane and the late Josephine Lamb, another
> Radium Girl, were 
> featured in a dance and video production that
> explored the work done by 
> young women in clock factories. Josephine Lamb was
> bedridden for 50 
> years from the radium poisoning. She died in 1974 at
> the age of 79.
> Keane, a Red Sox fan, laughs when asked about her
> secret to longevity. 
> "I'm lazy," Keane said, adding she never smoked,
> loved to walk and 
> dance, and enjoys caramel candy, chocolate and an
> occasional apricot 
> sour or Bailey's Irish Cream. "I didn't get old
> until I was 98," she said.
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"You get a lot more authority when the workforce doesn't think it's amateur hour on the top floor."
GEN. MICHAEL V. HAYDEN, President Bush's nominee for C.I.A. director.

-- John
John Jacobus, MS
Certified Health Physicist
e-mail:  crispy_bird at yahoo.com

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