Radium girls, women and industrial health reform: 1910-1935


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That was certainly true in the time the women were prosecuting the case.

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There's evidence I've seen in their letters that their neighbors, the clergy, and business people kind of shunned them. Locals "kind of wanted the women to put up and shut up," she says. Although they had won, the women's individual financial awards were fairly small. Radium Dial unsuccessfully appealed the decision many times, up to the U. Supreme Court. Donohue died before the appeals were finished. Radium Dial's president, Joseph Kelly, was ousted in He opened another company to produce radium clock dials. Luminous hummed along for decades, until , according to Clark's book.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission fined it that year for having radiation levels "1, times" the allowable amount. After failing to make the necessary improvements, Luminous closed.

The Radium Girls: An Illinois Tragedy | NPR Illinois

An April 2, , United Press International article, which called the company a "death factory," reported that former workers were suing the company; cancer ran high among the former dial painters. Earlier, when the Cold War threatened nuclear attacks, the U. Atomic Energy Commission began to study radiation's effects on humans. Dial painters, living and dead, were perfect study subjects.

Looney's family gave permission for her body to be exhumed and researched by Argonne National Laboratory near Lemont for the study. Halm's mother had saved one of Looney's white gloves that Halm liked to try on occasionally. She was afraid it was contaminated. A plaque honoring Ottawa's radium girls is displayed next to the memorial statue in Ottawa.

Dr. Sherry Baron

Looney and the other ill-fated dial painters had helped start a "movement that ultimately led, not until , to the adoption of the federal OSHA Occupational Safety and Health Administration Act, which was the big change in having federal workers' safety laws," Grossman Jr. He worked for the U.

Department of Labor for 30 years on workers' rights cases. The dial painters' case was very important to his father, he adds. One of the girls gave him a little piece of wood that looked like a chess pawn with a band of radium painted around it. It was so tiny it wasn't dangerous, but it still had a faint glow when I was a kid. Grossman Jr. They say, 'We would never harm our employees, this process is not harmful…' The battle has to keep being won over and over and over. One day, 40 years ago, Grossman Jr. In , thanks to an idea from local high schooler Madeline Piller, Ottawa erected a sculpture to honor its radium girls.

Illinois Issues is in-depth reporting and analysis that takes you beyond the headlines to provide a deeper understanding of our state.

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View the discussion thread. Part 2: Most of the radium-tainted earth from decades-old manufacturing in Ottawa has been removed, but one major site still needs cleanup. Most stories about the war focus on the fighting overseas, but there was another struggle taking place. An American icon from Illinois helped lead that battle and, for a time, paid for it with her reputation. State Sen. Illinois' Poison Control Center receives more than 82, calls a year.

Some are from health care providers looking for expertise, but mostly they're from the general public. And the answer would be no," the center's director, Dr. Finally, in appraising the dialpainters' campaign to secure compensation and prevention of further incidents--efforts launched with the help of the reform-minded, middle-class women of the Consumers' League--Clark is able to evaluate the achievements and shortcomings of the industrial health movement as a whole.

Clark provides a sophisticated and complex analysis of the interaction of labor, reformers, industrial physicians, academics, and industry that illuminates the specifics of this case as well as the development of industrial hygiene in general. Radium Girls is a brilliant case study of the radium dial industry.


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But it is much more. It should be of interest to those interested in social history, women's history, and labor history and the development of public health in the United States. Claudia Clark's book tells the compelling story of these women.

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    Radium girls, women and industrial health reform: 1910-1935 Radium girls, women and industrial health reform: 1910-1935
    Radium girls, women and industrial health reform: 1910-1935 Radium girls, women and industrial health reform: 1910-1935
    Radium girls, women and industrial health reform: 1910-1935 Radium girls, women and industrial health reform: 1910-1935
    Radium girls, women and industrial health reform: 1910-1935 Radium girls, women and industrial health reform: 1910-1935
    Radium girls, women and industrial health reform: 1910-1935 Radium girls, women and industrial health reform: 1910-1935
    Radium girls, women and industrial health reform: 1910-1935 Radium girls, women and industrial health reform: 1910-1935
    Radium girls, women and industrial health reform: 1910-1935 Radium girls, women and industrial health reform: 1910-1935

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