From: terry.coggins**At_Symbol_Here**TLC-HP.COM
Subject: [DCHAS-L] radium dial painters
Date: Tue, 30 Dec 2014 18:07:56 -0700
Reply-To: DCHAS-L <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**MED.CORNELL.EDU>
Message-ID: 20141230180756.a6a54ebcf2450d8e259234454149e23c.81141afd80.mailapi**At_Symbol_Here**


There is a documentary on youtube about the dial painters that might be of interest.

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] C&EN SafetyZone blog: 'Oops‰?? is never good occupational health policy
From: Monona Rossol
Date: Dec 30, 2014 6:27 PM

In the 60s in the University of Wisconsin Art Department we were still taught to lip point brushes for calligraphy and lettering assignments. Clearly the inks were not radioactive, but some metal pigments and many organic pigments were used. In calligraphy, Nigrosin was a common colorant. And the Aldrich SDS reveals that there is absolutely no acute or chronic data on the chemical whatever. So guess who the lab rats are.

Just as "oops" is not a good safety health policy, neither is "no news is good news."

Monona Rossol, M.S., M.F.A., Industrial Hygienist
President: Arts, Crafts & Theater Safety, Inc.
Safety Officer: Local USA829, IATSE
181 Thompson St., #23
New York, NY 10012 212-777-0062

-----Original Message-----
From: Ralph Stuart
Sent: Tue, Dec 30, 2014 8:26 am
Subject: [DCHAS-L] C&EN SafetyZone blog: 'Oops‰?? is never good occupational health policy

‰??‰??Oops‰?? is never good occupational health policy‰??
by Jyllian Kemsley

The headline is from Deborah Blum, author of "The Poisoner's Handbook," as
quoted in an NPR story about Mae Keane. Keane was briefly one of the "Radium
Girls" who painted glow-in-the-dark wristwatches in the 1920s. Here's a bit more
context, plus the full quote:

In order to get the numbers small enough, new hires were taught to do something
called "lip pointing." After painting each number [with radium paint], they were
to put the tip of the paintbrush between their lips to sharpen it.

Twelve numbers per watch, upwards of 200 watches per day ‰?? and with every digit,
the girls swallowed a little bit of radium.

"Of course, no one thought it was dangerous in these first couple of years,"
explains Deborah Blum, author of The Poisoner's Handbook.


Deborah Blum says the radium girls had a profound impact on workplace
regulations. By the time World War II came around, the federal government had
set basic safety limits for handling radiation.

And, she says, there are still lessons to be learned about how we protect people
who work with new, untested substances.

"We really don't want our factory workers to be the guinea pigs for discovery.
'Oops' is never good occupational health policy."

Searching C&EN archives, it seems that it took a while for people to embrace
those basic radiation safety limits. From a 1951 story from the American
Industrial Hygiene Association's 12th annual meeting:

Unsafe working conditions were found in the handling of radium, x-ray, and
fluoroscopic equipment in every one of 12 hospitals surveyed recently, William
LaRocque, of the Liberty Mutual Insurance Co., told a mixed group of scientists
and medical specialists at this meeting. In some cases, he said, radiation in
excess of maximum permissable doses was detected in hospital offices as well as
in laboratories and operating rooms.

LaRocque found physicians handling radium sources with virtually no protection
whatever. Between uses radium was stored in everything from water glasses to tin
cans. Because of the value of the radium it was often stored in office safes
which afforded little resistance to the radiation. Some dental x-ray equipment
surveyed irradiated the operator to a maximum permissable dose after as few as
five exposures had been made. Fluoroscopes and diagnostic x-ray apparatus were
often inadequately shielded or were used in a dangerous manner. In one case
reported, the lead glass on a fluoroscope screen had not been replaced although
it had been cracked "for years."

Contrary to experience reported by earlier investigators, LaRocque said that the
medical men and roetgenologists involved seemed anxious to learn about these
hazards and to take steps to correct the dangerous conditions. LaRocque
attributed the situation to ignorance rather than lethargy. He said that in none
of these cases had there ever been any planned system of health protection in
connection with radiation hazards and he made a strong plea to the assembled
industrial hygienists to take positive steps to overcome the present complacency
about these hazards.

Jyllian Kemsley | December 30, 2014 at 8:30 am |

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