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December 26, 1931


JAMA. 1931;97(26):1968-1969. doi:10.1001/jama.1931.02730260034013

Martland,1 in 1925, reported cases of anemia and of necrosis of the jaw in persons who had been employed in painting watch dials with paint made luminous by the addition of radium, mesothorium and radiothorium. During several years previous to 1924, 800 girls did such work in a New Jersey factory. The girls swallowed small amounts of radioactive paint day after day as a result of pointing the brushes with the lips. Some who had worked for one or more years developed necrosis of the jaw and anemia, from which, up to 1928, thirteen died. Martland, who had followed these carefully, believed toward the end of 1928 that the worst period was over and that, with few exceptions, no more workers would develop radium poisoning. Dial painting was stopped there several years ago. Now, however, another pathologic condition seems to have arisen among the employees who swallowed radioactive paint.