After Marie Curie discovered that uranium could glow in the dark, radium was found to be one of the products after radioactive decay took place. Uranium and radium were then used as a glow-in-the-dark paint in the 1920’s. The women using the paint soon fell ill, and a dentist was the first to notice that their teeth and gums were in poor health. Some of these women died, but it was soon realized that their work with radioactive substances was the cause of illness.
Uranium was not used for glow-in-the-dark paint; radium was. Becquerel noted that uranium gave off light (registering on photographic plates) before Curie’s work. It was not uranium that Curie found to glow, but the separated radium. The radium watch dial painters’ deaths made clear that radiation was dangerous, and although it came from radium, it was known that uranium was also radioactive and hence dangerous as well.
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