Cautionary Tales – How the Radium Girls Fought Back

8th December, 2023

Mollie Maggia’s dentist planned to remove a painful abscess from her mouth. But to his horror, her jawbone disintegrated at his touch, crumbling and splintering until it resembled ash. Like hundreds of her colleagues, Mollie had been slowly poisoned by her work with glowing radium dust. Eight months after her first toothache, she was dead.

In our previous episode, Cautionary Tales told the story of the “Radium Girls”. Their employers ignored the horrific side effects of the women’s work, resorting to obfuscation and even outright lies to deny their claims that they were getting sick.

In this follow-up interview Tim Harford sits down with Kate Moore, the author of Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America’s Shining WomenTim and Kate discuss how the women banded together and worked out what was happening to them, as well as how they fought back against their powerful bosses and their monumental legacy.

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