A Listing of Noteworthy Events
1904 -- Edison's Assistant, Clarence Dally becomes the "first radiation related death in the United States
Edison's version quickly became the standard tool by which physicians viewed X-ray images. During the course of these investigations, Clarence Dally, one of Edison's most dependable assistants, developed a degenerative skin disorder which progressed into a carcinoma. In 1904, Dally succumbed to his injuries - the first radiation related death in the United States.
Immediately, Edison halted all his X-ray research noting "the X rays had affected poisonously my assistant, Mr. Dally..."
1920s -- The Radium Girls
Radium was used to illuminate clock faces early in the twentieth century. Here is an account of the fate of young women employed to paint these clock faces and the attempts of big business to cover up the dangers of radioactive materials.
1934 -- Marie Curie Dies
As the 1920s drew to a close, Curie began to suffer almost constantly from fatigue, dizziness, and a low-grade fever. She also experienced a continuous humming in her ears and a gradual loss of eyesight that was helped only partially by a series of cataract operations. Even though a number of her colleagues who had worked with radium were displaying many of the same symptoms and others had died at relatively young ages of cancer, for a very long time Curie could not bring herself to admit that the element she and her husband had discovered could possibly be at fault. Eventually she did accept the fact that radium was dangerous, but she continued to work with it anyway. In the early 1930s, however, Curie's health noticeably worsened, and doctors finally discovered the cause: pernicious anemia caused by the cumulative effects of radiation exposure. The news was kept from the public as well as from Curie herself, and on July 4, 1934, she died at the mountain sanitorium where she had gone to recuperate.
Pioneers of Radiation Die of Leukemia
"Joe Kennedy, a brilliant man who was head of Oppenheimer's Los Alamos
group, died at 38 of a carcinoma of the stomach. Bert Lowbeer, who was
working in the 60-inch cyclotron building in Berkeley with Joe Hamilton --
both of these men died of leukemia in their early 40s."
(from an interview with Gofman)
1954, Enrico Fermi Dies of Cancer
"He dies on 28th of November 1954 in Chicago, from a cancer (probably caused by the radiations he received during his works".
Becquerel's Last Major Achievement
"Becquerel's last major achievement concerned the physiological effect of
the radiation. Others may have noticed this before him, but his report in
1901 of the burn caused when he carried an active sample of the Curies'
radium in his vest pocket inspired investigation by physicians, leading
ultimately to medical use.
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