Why is radium not widely used now?

No one knew of the dangers radium posed when it was produced for the first time. Radium had an aura of mystery which attracted people. Moreover, people were fascinated by how it glowed when mixed with phosphor. No wonder, industries sprang up to manufacture hundreds of consumer products containing radium.

The health hazard caused by this fascinating new element was identified only later. The harmful effects of radium such as skin burns and hair loss were observed among early experimenters. Many of them died as a result of their work.

The widespread use of radium was later halted for health and safety reasons. But, its wide use in luminescent paints continued through World War II. The soft glow of radium’s luminescence made aircraft dials, gauges and other instruments visible to their operators at night.

Radium was also an early radiation source for cancer treatment. Small radioactive seeds were implanted in tumours to kill cancerous cells. Safer and more effective radiation sources are used today.

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