Radium / X-ray
Radium was discovered by the French Marie Sklodowska-Curie and her husband Pierre Curie on 21 December 1898, in a uraninite sample, which is a mineral.
Hard to believe nowadays, but radium has been used for medical purposes, (after it’s use as research tool) injected or in pill-form, to cure illnesses from hair loss to rheumatism (and almost everything in between) After that “break-through” radium, and radioactivity in general, became the hype during the 1920s and ’30s. Especially for consumer products: Toothpaste, make-up, chocolate, butter, condoms, wool and much, much more…were advertised with radium as an unique selling point.
“The 1920s saw the widespread use of complexion clays both in salons and in home treatments. One variation on this trend was to use radioactive mud the most common form of which was Kemolite Radio-Active Beauty Plasma, advertised as a volcanic mud from the Carpathian mountains.” (read more; cosmeticsandskin.com)
The Shoe-fitting fluoroscope, invented in the 1930’s, was an X-Ray device for seeing through shoes to see if your feet had enough room. It was very populair during the depression times, when one had to do with one pair of shoes a lifetime (read more; orau.org)
Radium was also used as glow-in-the-dark paint for clocks and watches (used in dials till 1960s) Cosmetics were advertised to give a glowing complexion (The French Tho-Radia 1933 brand sold through to the early 1960s. When tested in the 1960s, the products were still found to be radioactive)
Did people get sick from Radium? Yes, people died. The Radium Girls’ case, settled in 1928, is the most sad example. The girl’s worked at the U.S. Radium manufacturing plant, they painted clock dials by hand with radium paint, they shaped paintbrushes with the mouth and dipped them in open containers of radium paint.