[ RadSafe ] Radium history question - internal contamination

J. Marshall Reber jmarshall.reber at comcast.net
Fri Oct 28 12:37:11 CDT 2011

On Oct 28, 2011, at 10:17 AM, Bjorn Cedervall wrote:

> It is certainly clear that some people working with radium during the approx. years 1910-1940 became heavily contaminated with radium and even exhaled radon as a consequence of the radium burden (the dial painters are probably the best known examples, see Claudia Clark's Radium Girls which is great reading for anyone interested in that particular tragedy). 

Although I took Robley Evans graduate course at MIT, a good buddy was a thesis student of his.  My friend was involved in measuring the radon exhaled by many "Radium Girls" who had not developed bone cancers many years before.  It was curious that these women seemed to be living longer than the normal lifespans of unexposed women.  The real tragedy was the canceling of government support for such monitoring while many of the women were still alive!  A scientific opportunity was lost that will probably never be available again.

After Prof. Evans suggested the dial painters stop pointing their radium brushes with their lips such fatal contamination ended.  No other other remediation was made:  no monitoring of the work place was done, no cleanup was performed, no government agency was involved!

J. Marshall Reber, ScD
165 Berkeley St.
Methuen MA 01844

Tel/Fax: 978-683-6540
Alternate Email: reber at alum.mit.edu

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