SUBSCRIBE to Capitol Fax      Advertise Here      Mobile Version     Exclusive Subscriber Content     Updated Posts    Contact
CapitolFax.com
To subscribe to Capitol Fax, click here.
The AP whitewashes history

Sunday, Sep 4, 2011

[Comments opened.]

* The Associated Press is infamous for shortening stories to the point where they lose all meaning. Here’s a prime example for Labor Day

A northern Illinois city has paid tribute to former factory employees who worked under dangerous conditions.

The Radium Girls memorial honors the women who worked at watch-painting plants for Radium Dial and Luminous Processes in the early 20th century. The women painted glow-in-the-dark watch dials using radium-laced paint. Many died of radium exposure from using their lips to hone their paintbrushes.

* So, why would the women workers be singled out for this honor? Because, as the LaSalle News-Tribune tells us, the company essentially ordered the workers to kill themselves

Women who worked at Radium Dial applied glow-in-the-dark paint to watch and clock hands and were instructed to lick the brushes to keep the ends pointed for precise painting. It was an instruction that sickened and killed many of Fuller and Mennie’s co-workers.

The female workers were told that licking the brushes would be good for their complexions, even after company officials knew the radium was poisonous…

The Radium Dial and Processes factories were started in 1922. Within three years, company officials learned that radium paint was toxic and threatened the workers — but wouldn’t disclose this.

* This is what happened to the workers

The women were told that the paint—a mixture of glue, water, and radium powder—was harmless. An instructor once made a show of swallowing some just to prove the point. The girls entertained themselves by playing with the “harmless” paint, decorating their nails and teeth with the luminous mixture.

The radium they were using emits low-energy radiation, which bounces harmlessly off the skin. However, if the material is swallowed, it permanently insinuates itself into the skeleton, where it continues to emit radiation for the rest of the victim’s life, and indeed long after she is dead. Investigators would later measure the radioactivity in the bones of long-dead dial painters to prove that they had been poisoned.

As the dial painters ingested more and more paint, their skeletons crumbled from within. Their teeth fell out, their jaws shattered. They suffered from excruciating bone pain from fractures, crippling anemia as the radiation killed blood-forming cells in their bone marrow, and various cancers.

* And when they fell ill, company doctors deliberately lied to them

When women started becoming sick, company doctors said they had syphilis, typhus and pneumonia.

* Yet, this practice continued for many, many years. After the local media took notice, the company shut down, then reopened under a different name

The Ottawa Radium Dial Studio was shut down amid lawsuits in the 1930s, but it re-opened under a new name, Luminous Processes, with some of the same management. Luminous Processes continued to make watch dials with radioactive materials until the 1970s, when it was shut down by nuclear regulators for mishandling tritium.

* The problems remain

Even after the Radium Dial Co. building was demolished, people took bricks from the site to reuse and desks from the factory were donated to area schools, Sack said, spreading the contamination. [Emphasis added]

* The contaminated factory building was even used as a meat packing plant for decades

Between 1930 and 1968, the original Radium Dial building was used as a meat packing plant and was later occupied by Farmers Co-op.

* And the cleanup is still not finished

A contaminated site on the outskirts of town still needs to be remediated, a process that could take up to five years at a cost estimated over $80 million dollars.

More

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a study outlining areas where contamination by radium-226 (Ra-226) as well as emissions of radon-222 (Rn-222) are at above normal levels. These areas include homes, public areas, schools, and even a car sales lot that is housed directly over the old Radium Dial Company site.

* The “Radium Girls” case sparked a rise in worker safety and compensation laws throughout the country. It also led to several environmental law changes, both here in Illinois and nationally. It takes a few minutes to get going, but check out a 1987 documentary made about the case

- Posted by Rich Miller        


12 Comments
  1. - bored now - Tuesday, Sep 6, 11 @ 7:16 am:

    i watched the video (which came in at 1 hr 45 min), which was fascinating to me. thanks for pointing it out…


  2. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Sep 6, 11 @ 8:10 am:

    Here’s another instance where government regulation interferes in the marketplace and stifles the creation of wealth.

    The Radium Girls were working and literally glowing until dat bad ol’gubmint stepped in and ruined the whole laissez faire party.

    Rich, thanks for posting the story. So many people today don’t know or understand their past, and don’t appreciate how sweet they have it, even in bad times.

    They were born on second base and think they were robbed because they didn’t get a triple.


  3. - Lulabell - Tuesday, Sep 6, 11 @ 8:12 am:

    And as much as we sometimes don’t like Unions as they are today this was just the type of thing the unions stopped….the deplorable working conditions, etc.


  4. - Cincinnatus - Tuesday, Sep 6, 11 @ 8:17 am:

    wordslinger,

    You may be surprised to find that many would consider this to be an appropriate role of the government.


  5. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Sep 6, 11 @ 8:28 am:

    –You may be surprised to find that many would consider this to be an appropriate role of the government.–

    That’s swell.


  6. - Small Town Liberal - Tuesday, Sep 6, 11 @ 8:53 am:

    –You may be surprised to find that many would consider this to be an appropriate role of the government.–

    Yeah, hindsight is 20/20 even for the anti-regulation crowd. I bet you would have been on the front line yelling for the government to step in back when this was going down.


  7. - Commonsense in Illinois - Tuesday, Sep 6, 11 @ 9:09 am:

    My Great Aunt was one of the Radium Girls at the Elgin Watch Factory. Although she passed on in the mid-1980s, I still recall that the result of her painting radium on watch faces was incredibly severe arthritic joints and bones, paper-thin skin that literally would split open if simply brushed by a finger nail and pain. Regardless, she was one of the most upbeat people I’ve ever met and she was very proud of her (and others’) work.


  8. - Andrew Thomason - Tuesday, Sep 6, 11 @ 9:40 am:

    Anyone interested in some further reading on this topic should check out the book “Poisoner’s Handbook” by Deborah Blum. She has a great tale about the Radium Girls and the role they played in early forensic science.


  9. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Sep 6, 11 @ 12:45 pm:

    I was proud to be part of the program last Friday. Please go to Illinois Labor History.org to find out more stories about our labor past and the important role workers play in society, but whose stories rarely get told..
    Larry Spivack, President, Illinois Labor History Society.


  10. - D.P. Gumby - Tuesday, Sep 6, 11 @ 1:32 pm:

    wordslinger couldn’t have slung it better!


  11. - Indigant in Illinois - Tuesday, Sep 6, 11 @ 3:28 pm:

    How dare the AP write a brief! Everyone knows that all news stories must be at least 800 words long or they don’t count. These so-called “journalists” make me sick.

    Here’s an example of how the story should have been told. http://tinyurl.com/3cnu2lg


  12. - Ivory-billed Woodpecker - Tuesday, Sep 6, 11 @ 4:39 pm:

    In addition to spurring demand for improved worker safety, radium poisoning was significant in driving drug regulation.

    Patent medicines containing radium were appropriate for whatever ailed you. In one notorious case, Eben Byers, a Newport, Rhode Island playboy, began drinking gobs of radium concoction. The account of his decline and death is horrific. And while sickness and death among multiple Illinois factory girls evidently could be dismissed as mere anecdote, Byers’s death gained attention and seems to have persuaded people that radiation may not always be the best thing. More generally, people developed the idea that drugs ought to be proved safe before being sold.

    Also, during World War II, we had people working with a new material, plutonium, that like radium is an alpha particle emitter. Nobody knew what plutonium would do in the body. But with the radium painters’ experience fresh in people’s minds, bomb workers were advised that the plutonium was very dangerous and that they should absolutely avoid ingesting any. Plutonium’s reputation never recovered.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


* Reader comments closed for the weekend
* Afternoon updates
* Stop the satellite TV tax!
* *** UPDATED 1x *** Twitter suspends parody account @peoriamayor
* Lesson learned: Don't 'Leave'
* Fitch affirms Illinois GO Bond rating
* BGA: Rauner firm holds state contracts; political round-up
* Question of the Day
* CAPTION CONTEST!
* Morning Shorts
* Yesterday's blog posts

Support CapitolFax.com
Visit our advertisers...

...............

...............

...............

...............

...............

...............


Search This Blog...

Search the 98th General Assembly By Bill Number
(example: HB0001)

Search the 98th General Assembly By Keyword

          
        * Hands On With Facebook's Nearby Friends
        * Our favourite 5 new Windows Phone apps of the week
        * Nike Layoffs Add Fuel to Apple iWatch Rumors
        * Nike Says The FuelBand Isn’t Dead, New Color Options Coming
        * Beats Music Gets In-App Subscriptions, Beefs Up Free Streaming Options
        * Nokia Lumia Instagramer of the Week: Sigrid Sohm
        * Incomparable

        * Samsung Galaxy S5 Review
        * A 3D-Printed Ultrasound Cast That Looks Awesome and Heals You Faster
        * Beats Bites the Bullet, and Starts Selling Subscriptions From Apple’s App
        * Nike Fires Majority of FuelBand Team, Will Stop Making Wearable Hardware
        * This Week's Top Downloads
        * Verizon May Roll Out Android 4.4 KitKat Update for Galaxy S4 on May 2nd (Rumor)
        * Use the 10% Rule to Negotiate at Yard Sales

        * Prospect Johnson proving 2013 wasn't a fluke
        * Rangers 6, White Sox 3: Rallies stall to extend skid
        * Quintana, White Sox lose touch in rough fourth inning
        * Eaton exits game after collision with Fielder
        * Eaton exits game with mild hamstring strain
        * Paulino goes on DL with rotator cuff inflammation
        * Rienzo surprised but excited


        Main Menu
        Home
        Illinois
        YouTube
        Pundit rankings
        Obama
        Subscriber Content
        Durbin
        Burris
        Blagojevich Trial
        Advertising
        Updated Posts
        Polls

        Archives
        April 2014
        March 2014
        February 2014
        January 2014
        December 2013
        November 2013
        October 2013
        September 2013
        August 2013
        July 2013
        June 2013
        May 2013
        April 2013
        March 2013
        February 2013
        January 2013
        December 2012
        November 2012
        October 2012
        September 2012
        August 2012
        July 2012
        June 2012
        May 2012
        April 2012
        March 2012
        February 2012
        January 2012
        December 2011
        November 2011
        October 2011
        September 2011
        August 2011
        July 2011
        June 2011
        May 2011
        April 2011
        March 2011
        February 2011
        January 2011
        December 2010
        November 2010
        October 2010
        September 2010
        August 2010
        July 2010
        June 2010
        May 2010
        April 2010
        March 2010
        February 2010
        January 2010
        December 2009
        November 2009
        October 2009
        September 2009
        August 2009
        July 2009
        June 2009
        May 2009
        April 2009
        March 2009
        February 2009
        January 2009
        December 2008
        November 2008
        October 2008
        September 2008
        August 2008
        July 2008
        June 2008
        May 2008
        April 2008
        March 2008
        February 2008
        January 2008
        December 2007
        November 2007
        October 2007
        September 2007
        August 2007
        July 2007
        June 2007
        May 2007
        April 2007
        March 2007
        February 2007
        January 2007
        December 2006
        November 2006
        October 2006
        September 2006
        August 2006
        July 2006
        June 2006
        May 2006
        April 2006
        March 2006
        February 2006
        January 2006
        December 2005
        April 2005
        March 2005
        February 2005
        January 2005
        December 2004
        November 2004
        October 2004

        Blog*Spot Archives
        November 2005
        October 2005
        September 2005
        August 2005
        July 2005
        June 2005
        May 2005

        Syndication

        RSS Feed 2.0
        Comments RSS 2.0
        WordPress

        Loading


        * Erickson: Pizza fueling Kilquist campaign..
        * GOP officials who wanted Brady out replaced..
        * Quinn: New controls coming after Medicaid paid .....
        * Quinn: Tighter controls coming for Medicaid pay.....


        * NASA: Engineer vital to moon landing success dies
        * Chicago man killed in Salt Lake City stabbing
        * Ill. GOP officials who wanted Brady out replaced
        * Gov. Quinn backs state spending for Obama library
        * Quinn: New controls after Medicaid paid for dead
        * $14M awarded in suit linking contraceptive, stroke
        * $14M awarded in lawsuit linking pill to stroke
        * Boeing to give California workers $47M in back pay
        * APNewsBreak: Medicaid paid $12M for Illinois dead
        * Democrats: Illinois schools could face major cuts

        * Addiction experts: Illinois budget cuts could hurt drug treatment
        * Comptroller Topinka reports $125K in income
        * Bernard Schoenburg: Durbin, Oberweis spar over earmarks, minimum wage
        * Statehouse Insider: It doesn’t always add up in the General Assembly
        * Chicago casino plan draws more support at legislative hearing
        * Video gaming may get its own exclusion list
        * U of I officials seeking to prevent retirement rush
        * U of I asks state legislators to prevent retirement rush; could affect 200 at UIS
        * 2015 tax rates still far from settled
        * Strip club tax brings in much less than expected

        * Census: People are leaving all six Chicago-area counties
        * Trixie and Chad have kids!
        * Quinn administration funds Diana Rauner's nonprofit
        * Why Lenovo's Moto bid is looking smarter
        * Ignoring Shakespeare's butcher, law firm advises how to cut legal bills


        * Cardinal’s exemplary courage, grace
        * Painful North Side CTA bypass is right move for the future
        * In pre-Easter march, Chicago religion, community activists call for peace
        * $14 mil awarded to woman who suffered stroke after taking medication
        * Ex-death row inmate Anthony Porter angry, feels ‘cheated’ out of money
        * 12-year-old boy shot in Altgeld Gardens neighborhood
        * Man killed in crash on Dan Ryan Expressway near Chicago Skyway
        * Anthony Porter freed from Death Row, but not from the past
        * 5 dead, 21 people shot in 24 hours
        * Charter school principal proposes buying school shut by CPS


        * Cops: 3 dead, 11 others injured in shootings
        * Body of newborn boy found in Logan Square gangway
        * Boy, 16, shot on South Side
        * Geneva kayak trip turns fatal
        * Man hit by truck on Near North Side identified
        * Family, community, mourns boy, 15, killed in North Chicago
        * Officer in prostitution sting sustains broken nose; man charged
        * Albany Park man charged with sexually assaulting girl
        * Far South Side man accused of robbing student in Loop


        * Illinois Finally Gets 'No Child Left Behind' Waiver
        * U Of I: Illinois Pension Overhaul Had Costly Mistake
        * Fish fry dinners bring food, community to Catholics during Lent
        * Listen To State Week - April 18, 2014
        * Murray Center Advocates Win Appeals Decision
        * Employment Improves, But Illinois Still Lags U.S.
        * Nine Illinois lawmakers vote to fund Obama library - but only five members in attendance
        * WBEZ's Student Stories
        * Interview: John Tinker & The Landmark Case On Students' Right To Free Speech
        * State Legislation Hints At Marijuana Legalization


        * Our Opinion: Don’t drag feet on drone regulation
        * Bernard Schoenburg: Durbin, Oberweis spar over earmarks, minimum wage
        * Bernard Schoenburg: Durbin, Oberweis spar over earmarks, minimum wage
        * Statehouse Insider: It doesn’t always add up in the General Assembly
        * Statehouse Insider: It doesn’t always add up in the General Assembly
        * Armenta L. Johnson: Advocate for quality education to avoid segregation
        * Catherine Walters: Prairie Center Against Sexual Assault notes anniversary, awareness month
        * Video gaming may get its own exclusion list
        * U of I asks state legislators to prevent retirement rush; could affect 200 at UIS
        * Quinn grants 43 clemency requests


        * Trivia fundraiser to benefit CASA
        * Lavell 'LD' Starrick
        * Dr. Gary Gofoth
        * Stacey Nedelcoff
        * Timothy Burris
        * Mildred Matthews
        * Freddie Thompson
        * William Blankenship Sr.
        * Julee Illner
        * James Needham


        * The 10th District money race
        * Aurora Democrat calls out IHSA
        * Lawyers: Ill. hazing law vague, unconstitutional
        * Ill. House OKs lower-cost hunting bill for seniors
        * Quinn’s running mate takes new consulting job

        * Lipinski announces 2014 Congressional Art ...
        * Lipinski seeks artistic submissions - The ...
        * Lemont VFW honors Vietnam veterans - Subur...
        * Lipinski Votes to Protect the Paychecks of...
        * Meet the 8 House Dems who don't co-sponsor...
        * Jeff Vorva's Editor's Notebook: In this ca...
        * Rep. Lipinski Honors Vietnam Vets on House...
        * Southwest Airlines Adding 9 Non-Stop Daily...
        * Lipinski Announces Southwest will Start Fl...
        * Lipinski Thanks Voters for Support in Unco...

        * Loading Koch Industries Website Too Many T......
        * Maryland and DC among worst for food aller......
        * Cleveland State University to reestablish ......
        * Convicted political boss Al Sanchez runnin......
        * Candidates make last filings for local, st......

        * Illinois Lt. Gov. Simon opposes pension le......
        * Dillard Odd Man Out on Pension Deal Reaction...
        * Sen. Mark Kirk sides with Rauner on pensio......
        * Governor's race infighting threatens pensi......
        * SCHOONERS - Home of Everyone's Favorite Be......

        * The Library of Congress Pkwy?
        * Sen. Mark Kirk pokes at Eric Holder: Did NSA spy on Congress?
        * Democratic National Committee Executive Committee meeting in Chicago June 8
        * Emily's List hits Chicago June 27: Sebelius, Lisa Madigan, Neely, Finney to speak
        * Feinstein, Chambliss defend phone data snooping to "keep the homeland safe." Durbin has concerns. UPDATED
        * President Obama official schedule and guidance June 6, 2013. North Carolina, California
        * Verizon phone records secretly collected by the National Security Agency
        * Obama to tap genocide fighter, Pulitzer Prize winner Samantha Power to become new United Nations Ambassador
        * President Obama official schedule and guidance June 5, 2013. Lew, Baltimore Ravens
        * President Obama official schedule and guidance June 4, 2013. Chilean President Sebastián Piñera


        * Governor Quinn Announces Investments to Conserve Lake Michigan Shoreline - Visits Volunteer Beach Clean-up to Announce Investments That Will Support Environmental Education and Stewardship Projects
        * Governor Pat Quinn Takes Clemency Action
        * Proposed Rules for Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act Filed
        * Adopt-A-Highway Spring Cleanup Begins Today - Annual Event Honors Earth Day, Tackles Roadside Litter After Harsh Winter
        * Illinois Schools Win No Child Left Behind Waiver - Federal Government Approves Flexibility Needed for Successful Implementation of State Strategies to Improve Student Learning




            Hosted by MCS SUBSCRIBE to Capitol Fax Advertise Here Mobile Version Contact Rich Miller