Monday, January 18, 2010

farmdoc's blog post number 638

My watch has a luminous dial. Last night in the dark I glanced at it to check the time. And for some reason, doing so reminded me of the Radium Girls (pictured) – who Wikipedia says were a group of factory workers who contracted radium poisoning from painting watch dials with glow-in-the-dark paint, in New Jersey around 1917. Told the paint was harmless, the women ingested deadly radium amounts by licking their paintbrushes to sharpen them. Subsequently the women won a court case that established the right of individual workers who contract occupational diseases to sue their employers. Regrettably and amazingly, even in 2010 workers are still contracting severe diseases, including fatal cancers, from their jobs. A tragic, recent and ongoing example is 9/11 emergency workers. It’s reported here that of nearly 10,000 9/11 workers tested from 2002 to 2004, some 70% reported new or substantially worsened respiratory problems while or after working at Ground Zero. And cancers and cancer deaths have been reported and are continuing. It seems the main culprits are inhalation of toxic dust and burning jet fuel. All this does not even count the psychiatric illnesses 9/11 has caused the 9/11 emergency workers. Reportedly the afflicted workers are still having trouble getting compensation for their 9/11 illnesses – over eight years after their heroic Ground Zero work, and 90 years after the Radium Girls’ successful court decision. Ho hum.

1 comment:

farmdoc said...

Nowadays luminous paint used in watches and clocks is phospholuminescent and not radioluminescent. Therefore it's safe because it's not radioactive. But in any event, even when radioluminescent paint was used, it posed no risk to the users because the radioactivity was too low. The Radium Girls received much much higher dosages because they licked their brushes and/or painted the radioluminescent paint on their fingernails.