In 1917, the harmful effects of radiation were still largely unknown, and radium was used as a glow-in-the-dark paint. The Radium Girls were watch-dial painters at the United States Radium factory in New Jersey. They were told that the paint was harmless, and so they would lick their paintbrushes to give them a fine point, which over time caused fatal radiation poisoning, anaemia, and horrific necrosis of the jaw.

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