MAY 27, 2017 1:54 PM PDT

History's Deadliest Colors

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

Humans have always had a natural attraction to colors. We've used colors extensively in self-expression, in arts, jewelry, clothing, and more. In our technicolor world, the more color variety, the better it seems.

But in the quest to find the richest, most unique shades of pigment, humans have stumbled upon several compounds that, while visually stunning, turned out to be deadly. The trio of deadly colors include green, white, and orange.

One of the most dangerous compounds in the green category is radium. Soon after its discovery in 1898, people fell in love with the brilliant shade of flaming green it emitted. It was then incorporated into jewelry, makeup, and other commercial packaging. The deadly effects of this radioactive compound wasn't fully understood until many decades later. People exposed to this compound suffered from sores, anemia, and bone cancer.

Watch the video to learn more about the deadly effects of dazzling white (lead) and scintillating orange (uranium oxide) colors.
About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
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