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.


* Adding insult to injury in higher ed
* Question of the day
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Fundraiser list
* Congresscritters who draw state pensions
* *** UPDATED x1 - ISP responds *** The Mendoza car saga continues, including a Rauner twist
* It's just a bill
* *** UPDATED x3 - Rauner response - 81 percent vote to authorize strike *** AFSCME strike vote authorization result announcement
* *** UPDATED x1 - Purvis responds *** Madigan forms another education funding task force
* Can Rauner's 25 percent prisoner reduction goal be met?
* Fisking Rauner
* *** UPDATED x1 - Backpedal begins *** Pritzker urges unusual "protest"
* Rauner dodges reporters
* *** LIVE *** House session coverage
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today's edition of Capitol Fax (use all CAPS in password)
* Yesterday's stories

Support CapitolFax.com
Visit our advertisers...

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

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

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

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

...............
<


Loading


* Madigan forms Illinois House panel to address s.....
* Madigan forms Illinois House panel to address s.....


* Trump puts moderate GOP governors in awkward spot
* Man convicted in 2013 slaying of mother outside church
* Officer won't face charges in fatal shooting during fight
* Wheaton's Cantigny Park, museums undergoing renovation
* The Latest: 46 protesters arrested while police clear camp
* Illinois union OKs strike over Rauner contract dispute
* University suspends fraternity after allegations of hazing
* Madigan forms Illinois House panel to address school funding
* Ex-US Rep. Jackson gets about $138,400 in annual benefits
* Storm system that hit California moving into the Midwest

* Economic stakes high for Springfield in labor showdown
* AFSCME authorizes strike, but still wants to bargain with Rauner
* AFSCME members authorize leaders to call strike
* Madigan forms Illinois House panel to address school funding
* Ex-U.S. Rep. Jackson gets about $138,400 in annual benefits
* AFSCME members authorize leaders to call state employee strike
* AFSCME will announce results of strike-authorization vote Thursday
* Hastert victim again argues for remainder of hush money
* Senate urged to leave state's PE requirements alone
* Luciano: State lawmakers fiddling while Illinois burns

* Why this Chicago hospital is doubling down on breastfeeding
* Sears cuts 130 corporate jobs


* Fire wreaks $150K in damage to Lake Forest home
* Picture this: White Sox photo day
* Man charged with messaging girl about sex, traveling to meet her
* New block of tickets for ‘Hamilton’ Chicago on sale Feb. 28
* Dear Abby: I’m falsely blamed for fiancee’s divorce
* Georgia Nicols horoscopes for Feb. 24, 2017
* 2 children among 4 injured in Marquette Park crash
* Strange, anxious winter ‘lit a fire’ in Cub bullpen hopeful
* White House adviser asked FBI to dispute Russia reports
* Patrick Kane’s hat trick leads Hawks to eighth win in nine games


* White House chief of staff Reince Priebus asked FBI to dispute Russia reports
* Dakota Access oil pipeline camp cleared of protesters; dozens arrested
* Alcohol-related death of Gurnee student at Miami University ruled an accident
* New block of 'Hamilton' tickets on sale Tuesday
* White Sox's Carson Fulmer recovers from being 'kicked around' in 2016
* Patrick Kane notches third career regular-season hat trick in win over Coyotes
* Blackhawks keep rolling with 6-3 victory over Coyotes
* Kim Jong Un's brother was killed by banned chemical nerve agent, police say
* Would be nice if 'quotable' Jerry Reinsdorf would talk about White Sox
* Bulls keep Jimmy Butler for now, trade Taj Gibson and Doug McDermott to Thunder


» Experts: Promotion Of Cop With 90 Misconduct Complaints Raises ‘Red Flags’
» AFSCME Members Authorize Potential Strike
» Palatine Reacts To Trump's Move To Rescind Transgender Student Guidance
» Illinois Union OKs Strike Over Rauner Contract Dispute
» Fear Heightened Among Immigrant Workers In Chicago Area
» Illinois Attorney General Convenes Summit On Trump Orders
» Chicago Schools Take A Stand On Immigration Enforcement
» After Budget Proposal, Governor Goes Quiet
» Illinois Issues: The Great Pension Chasm
» 16 Latino Leaders Resign From Chicago Public Schools Advisory Panel


* Economic stakes high for Springfield in labor showdown
* AFSCME authorizes strike, but still wants to bargain with Rauner
* Thumbs Down: To attempt to reinstate Legislative Scholarship program
* Ralph Martire: More ambiguity than Illinois can afford
* George Will: America’s predictable pension crisis
* Eugene Robinson: Obamacare has staying power
* AFSCME members authorize leaders to call strike
* Madigan forms Illinois House panel to address school funding
* Ex-U.S. Rep. Jackson gets about $138,400 in annual benefits
* AFSCME members authorize leaders to call state employee strike


* Police Beat
* Warm weather allows farmers to work fields
* March/caravan to let people express themselves about Decatur
* Madeline Rancilio
* Linda Hernandez
* Bernice Laferne Martin
* Patrick Conaughty
* Donald Byrley
* Charles 'Charley' Speck
* Wayne Brock


* Kane's hat trick leads Blackhawks past Coyotes 6-3
* Irving, James lead Cavaliers past Knicks, 119-104
* Rangers outlast Maple Leafs for 2-1 win in shootout
* A'ja Wilson helps No. 7 South Carolina beat Texas A&M 80-64
* Images: Benet Academy vs. Bolingbrook, girls basketball

* US Congressman tours new Aurora Specialty ...
* Hultgren guides STEM scholars through pres...
* Group upset with Trump wants Town Hall mee...
* Rep. Hultgren: Illinois Economy Just Keeps...
* US Representative Randy Hultgren visits ne...
* Illinois Congressmen Surprised At Speaker ...
* Rep. Hultgren stands up for ACA repeal - C...
* Hultgren criticizes immigration ban, Roska...
* Majority of IL Congressional Delegation Op...
* US Congressman tours new Aurora Specialty ...

* Durbin on target about the location and ca......

* GW: Illinois Sen. Tammy Duckworth to Speak......

* “The Driver’s Side” – News From The Motorist’s Perspective
* Impeach Trump? It won’t be for any reason we, the people, approve of!
* Former Obama adviser David Plouffe fined for illegally lobbying Rahm on behalf of Uber, and other Chicago news
* Ruth Ratny, chronicler of Chicago's film industry, dies
* An Internet-free ‘bookbar’ in Lincoln Park has banned laptops in favor of books and conversation
* Right-wing Trumpnuts go bonkers over New Trier civil rights program.
* #LibertysPromise
* #TBT -- John Kinzie, Oldest Uptowner
* Kizuki Ramen & Izakaya is the dependably good bowl Wicker Park doesn’t need
* “Contracts, like hearts, are meant to be broken.” -Ray Kroc.


* Governor Bruce Rauner Honors Carnegie Hero From Buffalo Grove
* Governor Addresses State Board of Education to Emphasize Importance of Strong Accountability Standards
* Stars and Legends to Perform at 2017 Illinois State Fair - First Round of Grandstand Headliners Announced for Springfield Fair
* Earthquake Education Kiosk Unveiled at University Mall in Carbondale - IEMA, Central U.S. Earthquake Consortium project will help southern Illinois residents reduce damage, injuries from earthquakes
* Governor Takes Bill Action

  
* Apple reduces incidence of iPhone 6 and 6s shutdowns with iOS 10.2.1 stability improvements
* Sporty Huawei Watch 2 shows up in three colors, no rotating crown, and possibly, no NFC in tow
* Shine gives up on mobile network ad-block threats, wants to play nice
* Google Messenger now called Android Messages
* Specs for ‘standard’ Samsung Galaxy S8 revealed as extremely similar to S8+
* Apple Investigating iPhone 7 Plus Caught Melting on Video
* RCS, Google’s answer to iMessage, expands to 27 more carriers and OEMs

* Starter for Saturday's spring opener TBD
* White Sox Tilson hopes to return next week
* Improving Anderson a key piece to Sox rebuild
* White Sox to retire Buehrle's uniform No. 56
* Harris continues following Jackie's path
* White Sox to retire Buehrle's uniform No. 56
* Holland brings loose, fun personality to White Sox clubhouse


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

Archives
February 2017
January 2017
December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
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




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