Every so often, an example from class resonates beyond statistics on a slide. Today second-years covered the occupational causes of cancer, among them coal tar and asbestos. One particularly notorious (and tragic) case occurred just around the corner in Orange, NJ. In the 1920s, young women painting luminescent dials on watches for the U.S. Radium Corp would lick their brushes to keep the tips sharp and even paint their nails. Many developed radiation poisoning and cancer. Their case, settled in 1928, influenced the establishment of new occupational hazard laws.
For further reading, see Radium Girls: Women and Industrial Health Reform, 1910-1935, by Claudia Clark.
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