Mollie Maggia, an American factory worker, died a tragic death due to hemorrhage in her jugular vein. Her body began to disintegrate quickly, starting from teeth, then gums and finally resulting in a loss of jaw.
Ultimately her hips broke and she couldn’t walk anymore.
According to her death certificate she had died of syphilis. But today we know that this was not the cause at all — Mollie Maggia had actually died of radiation poisoning.
Several women began dying in the United States because of the harmful effects of radiation on the body. All these women worked in watch factories painting fluorescent numbers onto the faces of the timepieces.
The paint contained radium that gave them their characteristic luminosity. The workers were told to sharpen the tips of the brushes with their lips, which caused them to ingest a small amount of mixture in their lips.
It was well-known that radiation was dangerous, but the factory had fake studies that proved elsewise.
Sadly, everyone were being poisoned. Mollie was the first to die, but certainly not the last. Her coworkers suffered the same fate, though with different symptoms and problems.
With the radium inside them, the damage was infinitely worse. And nothing could be done to reverse the horrible process.
However, the girls who still worked there had to somehow bring justice to the girls and stop others from dying. They began a legal battle. The women wanted to prove that the companies had lied to them and that the radium was what was making them sick.
However, when a man died the experts take the case seriously. In 1925, Harrison Martland undeniably proved the link between radium and the poisoning suffered by the women who had worked in the factories. And when they exhumed some of the corpses, there was no doubt about it: the bodies still glowed with that characteristic brilliance of the numbers they had painted with their own hands.
It was only in 1938 that the owners of the factories were finally found guilty for their negligence which had led to the death of the young women.
Companies and factories had to ensure safety of their workers. Basically, many of the workers’ rights that are still in force internationally to this day are thanks to those brave women. Unfortunately, the “ghost girls” have nearly been forgotten even though their achievements live on. Hopefully this story and others like it will keep their memory alive so their sacrifice can be properly honored.