My "go to" for this era is the conditions found in the US Radium plant, aka The Radium Girls.
A short excerpt from:
Robert R. Johnson
For the Love of Pretty Things
The Radium Girls and "Dying for Science"
In the early twenties, U.S. Ra-
dium contracted with a noted
Harvard toxicologist, Dr. Cecil
Drinker, to conduct a study of work-
ing conditions at U.S. Radium's New
Jersey facilities. Drinker was a highly
respected scientist who, at the time
of the U.S. Radium operation, was
helping to develop the field of indus-
trial hygiene. He'd begun a research
facility at Harvard in the School of
Public Health, and had studied the
poisonous effects of manufacturing-
created dust on the respiration and
blood content of workers in the zinc
industry. (He eventually concluded
that the culprit was manganese.) His
contract with U.S. Radium was his
first foray into studying the indus-
trial hazards of radiation.
Drinker examined the workplace
in Orange and observed an environ-
ment replete with radium-tainted
dust, open containers of highly ra-
dioactive paints, poor ventilation,
and other problematic conditions.
He also took blood samples from the
workers on the shop floor as well
as the scientists working in the ad-
joining labs. What he found was di-
sastrous. Every one of the workers
suffered from dangerous blood con-
ditions. He encountered several cases
of radium necrosis; he noticed, too,
that a chemist, Edward Lehman, had
severe lesions on his hands and arms.
Lehman dismissed the idea that Un-
dark had anything to do with his le-
sions or that there was any threat to
his future health from continued ex-
posure to the substance.
Lehman would die within the
Drinker remarked that Lehman's
attitude of complacency was ram-
pant at the company. "There seemed
to be an utter lack of realization of
the dangers inherent in the mate-
rial that was being manufactured."
U.S. Radium sold the sand-like res-
idue of the radium paint process as
filler for children's sandboxes. When
parents questioned the safety of the
sand, von Sochocky assuaged them
by telling them that the sand was
"most hygienic and... more ben-
eficial than the mud of world-re-
nowned curative baths."
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