Radium Girl Mae Keane Dies

At the age of 107 the last remaining Radium Girl in the US died after a long life she attributed to her boss asking her if she would like to quit her job painting watch faces after just one week, NPR reports. The major innovation of the 1920s was the arrival of radium paint and its use as a glow in the dark material used to paint the small numbers on the watch face that would then glow in the dark. The problem the majority of Radium Girls found as the 1920s wore on was the poisoning the paint left them with.

According to reports on ThumbTack via Sam Tabar, each Radium Girl was required to lick the paintbrush between each number painted. This made it an almost certainty that each Radium Girl would be infected with radium and suffer an agonizing death from the poisoning that ensued. Some reports state that as many as 50 deaths occurred within the Radium Girl community by 1927 and a further number of gruesome injuries were also encountered, including the loss of a jaw bone during a visit to the dentist. Mae Keane left her job after juts one week after she did not like the gritty taste of the radium paint and was asked if she was willing to quit as she underperformed in her job. During later years Mae Keane stated her wish to thank the supervisor who asked her to resign and probably saved her life.

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