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Dangerous Objects

American Tobacco Company, Lucky Strike cigarettes in tin, 1920s−ca 1942

Homer Laughlin China, Uranium Red-Fiesta Ash Tray, 1936−38

Orange juice squeezer, uranium glass (Vaseline glass) 

Manufacturer unknown
Orange juice squeezer
uranium glass (Vaseline glass)
5 ½ x 5 ½ x 2 ½ in.
lent by private collector
photo by David Nufer

American Tobacco Company
Lucky Strike cigarettes in tin
1920s−ca 1942
lithography on tin
4 ½ x 5 ¾ x 6 ¼ in.
lent by private collector
photo by David Nufer

Homer Laughlin China
Uranium Red-Fiesta Ash Tray
1936−38
uranium oxide glaze
5 ½ x 5 ½ x 1 ½ in.
lent by private collector
photo by David Nufer

Dangerous objects surround us in our daily lives. Mildly radioactive uranium glass was popular early in the twentieth century and was often called carnival glass at county fairs. Uranium Red Fiestaware, manufactured between 1935 and 1942, got its color from uranium oxide used in the glaze. Tins of Lucky Strike cigarettes were popular with soldiers because the container kept their smokes dry.

So here is the question: How much orange juice squeezed in a uranium glass gadget must you drink before it is dangerous? Or how much radioactive Fiesta ware must you handle or eat from before it is a health risk? And how about the Luckies?