Products full of radioactive ingredients were the norm ‘back in the day’. It was the price you paid for whiter teeth and tasty treats.

Before the negative side effects of a little something called radium were fully understood, it was the kind of ingredient that got tossed into just about every type of product you could imagine. Of course, this was in the early 1900s, and radium had really only been around since 1898 when Marie and Pierre Currie discovered it and later turned that discovery into a Nobel prize five years later. How could something with an intoxicating glow to it be bad for you, right? Starting in 1910, if your product didn’t have radium in it, it got lost in an ever-expanding pack of those that did. And those products that claimed to have the radioactive edge but really didn’t? Thankfully the U.S. government would step in and put an end to the misleading advertising.

For two decades radium was something that was willfully ingested with complete disregard for the growing number of suspicious deaths surrounding those that manufactured the goods consumers were clamoring for. Yes, radium isn’t always bad and does exist naturally in the wild (brazil nut, anyone?), but in extremely small and harmless doses. However, the Curries who discovered radium way back when? Their laboratory notebooks from that era are still too radioactive to handle, more than 100 years after the fact.

Story by Jay Moon


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