Nearly 100 years ago, the women began dying. Their bones literally crumbled inside them, rendering some permanently crippled, some with broken jawbones.

The women — some of them just teenage girls — were dial-painters, working in watch and clock factories around the U.S. in the 1910s and 20s. They painted the watches’ tiny hands and numbers with a glowing paint made from a special, newly discovered element. It was known as radium, and it was highly radioactive.

The women used delicate camelhair brushes to paint precisely. But even the tiny brushes did not hold a fine enough point.

So the factory workers put the radium-laden brushes to their lips, over and over again throughout their work day.

Eventually, it poisoned them...

Read the source article at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center