American Chamber of Horrors: The Truth About Food and Drugs (Getting and spending) - Ruth D. Lamb Horror Book Review
Horror books Review
In the early years of the 20th Century, a wealthy Pittsburgh businessman died of radium poisoning. His death was the direct result of drinking a medicinal tonic known as Radithor. Mr. Eben Buyers was found to have 73.66 micrograms of radium in his body, and attending doctors reported that "even the air he exhaled was radioactive."
An autopsy showed that the cause of death was "radiation poisoning." From drinking water. Radioactive water.
The full account of this story can be found in the 1936 book, American Chamber of Horrors; The Truth About Food and Drugs by Ruth deForest Lamb. It’s a great read and an interesting book. I highly recommend this book, for it’s more than 400 pages, well researched, well written and talks in-depth about the problem of poisonous patent medicines, drugs and even food in the early 1900s.
Just the story of Mr. Buyers makes this book a compelling read, and it’s full of such stories.
BTW, In the early 1900s, government officials did not have the legislative authority to remove Radithor from the market because existing laws did not empower officials to seize "dangerous drugs, unless their labels misrepresented them" [from page 74).
In other words, Mr. Eben Buyers knew he was drinking radioactive water. However, he probably didn’t know what he was doing to his body. The first two weeks, he found that (as promised), he felt better than he had in years. But that happy result did not last very long. When he was hospitalized, the first thing they did to poor Mr. Buyers was to order x-rays.
An expert was summoned to examine the x-rays. Dr. Flinn, Ms. Lamb states, had been involved in the radium watch-dial cases. Ever hear about that? I hadn’t, until I read this book. Seems that a few women workers were poisoned as they toiled away, painting radium (yes, real radium) on watch-dial faces. The luminous paint, the employer promised was "harmless," and many of the so-called "Radium Girls" even applied the paint to their fingernails.
Mr. Buyers and Mrs. Brown (Lash Lure Lady, blinded by a mascara product) were two of thousands of reasons that facilitated the creation of the FDA. And upon the creation of the FDA, the first product they seized was Lash Lure.
Buy the book and read the rest of the stories.
About American Chamber of Horrors: The Truth About Food and Drugs (Getting and spending)
Author: Ruth D. Lamb
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