America’s Radium Girls worked in a dangerous environment without any personal protective equipment, while their male bosses wore lead aprons as protection against radiation.
The Girls were even instructed to lick their brushes so that they could do fine detail work with a fine point.
It was the First World War and many young women devoted themselves to patriotic work in 1917. They considered themselves fortunate to have acquired work, in support of the military, in a warehouse in New Jersey.
They Used Radium-Infused Paint To Help The Men In The Trenches
The Radium Girls received higher than average working wages, and the work was not demanding. All they had to do was paint the faces of clocks, instrument gauges, and watches with glowing paint.
Their employers were the United States Radium Company. Radium-infused paint used on the faces of these objects enabled them to glow in the dark.
This element had recently been discovered and was proving very helpful for reading in the dark or the depth of the trenches.
Having been given every assurance the paint was safe to handle, the Radium Girls trusted that they did not need to safeguard against the element.