Skip to main content

View Diary: How Regulation came to be: Radium Girls - Part I (50 comments)

Comment Preferences

  •  The biological effects of radiation were not (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dsteffen, marykk, pixxer

    really well known until the 1930s. Sadly, this is probably the reason that so many scientists died of cancer in the 1930s through 1950s (Marie Curie and Enrico Fermi especially come to mind). While it seems obvious to us now that licking radioactive paint is a bad thing, I don't think we can be so judgmental on early 20th century working conditions. We do so only with the knowledge that they did not have at the time. Environmental and worker protection are some of the greatest achievements of the 20th century and we should be very proud to have them. But we can't reasonably expect companies prior to these developments to have had the sensibility and knowledge that took 50 years of research (much of which is still ongoing).

    •  Oh I don't know (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dsteffen
      I understand what you're saying, however, some of the accounts I read of the radium girls (I used to use it as an example in my ag safety class), there apparently was a pretty good paper trail where the higher up's DID know there was a problem, but kept it quiet.  In those cases (the ford pinto syndrome) people need to go to prison for a very long time.
    •  Well, yes and no. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      marykk

      Maybe in the nineteen-teens you could say that people weren't aware, but by the mid-twenties the companies working with radium had a pretty good knowledge of what they had on their hands. Not the public yet, you're correct, but the management of the companies is what counts in this case.

      As I mentioned above, there was pretty clear evidence that the people running the companies were protecting themselves and their valuable employees -- the scientists, R&D people, etc.  The production workers, not so much (more like not at all).  

      U.S. Radium in particular had a report from a Harvard toxicology expert telling them flat out in no uncertain terms that they had a problem.  I think you'll find what they did with that report pretty damning.

      People with advantages are loath to believe that they just happen to be people with advantages. --C. Wright Mills

      by dsteffen on Mon Mar 02, 2009 at 04:18:19 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site