We are fascinated by radium and we’re here to tell you that it is so much more than just an element on the periodic table. There is a whole fascinating history associated with radium, and while we can’t cover it in its entirety right now, we can share some of the crazy things radium was used for before we knew there were risks involved. Buckle up, this gets wild.
(image via: orau)
Radioactive toothpaste was being produced in toothpaste from the 1920s through WWII, and while radium certainly gave teeth a certain, uhm, glow, we probably don’t need to tell you that it wasn’t great to put directly into your mouth. If you’ve ever heard of The Radium Girls, then you know that they would apply the radium they used on watches and clocks to their teeth before heading to the dances after work.
The back of the toothpaste tube read as follows:
“What does Doramad do? Through its radioactivity, it increases the defenses of teeth and gums. The cells are charged with a new vigorous life energy, which inhibits bacteria in their destructive ability. Hence the exquisite prevention and healing effect on gum diseases. Polishes enamel to the softest shiny white. Prevents tartar approach. Good foam, new taste, pleasant, mild and refreshing. Use extensively.”
Yes, something as simple as water. In fact, this radioactive water was said to cure a number of ailments including arthritis and wrinkles. As we now know, there are a number of other ways we can treat and/or cure these ailments without having to ingest radioactive water.
(image via: the atlantic)
The whole idea behind radium being added to things such as toothpaste and cosmetics was to brighten various parts of the body or to give various parts that glowing effect, so the goal through powder and creams applied to the skin was to brighten and rejuvenate the skin. Think about it, girls with glowing skin at a dance hall would certainly get a lot of attention.
Yes, this is as terrifying as it sounds. Throughout the 20s and 30s radium spas existed where people could go to enjoy a soak in radium mud, rinse with radium water, and after a nice lather of radium cream, their skin would be, dare we say, electrifying. Nowadays we know that we can go to a spa and get a mud bath, relaxing massage, chemical peel, facial, the works, and not suffer long-term health problems that eventually lead to death.