We thought our website visitors and members would enjoy watching the video below which was published today by TED-Ed — TED‘s youth and education initiative — whose aim is to spark and celebrate the ideas of teachers and students around the world.
While we knew some of the origins of how specific colors came to be throughout history, we had no idea of many of the factoids revealed in this new lesson, “History’s Deadliest Colors” and thought you would enjoy watching it as we did.
The video’s abstract says this:
When radium was first discovered, its luminous green color inspired people to add it into beauty products and jewelry. It wasn’t until much later that we realized that radium’s harmful effects outweighed its visual benefits. Unfortunately, radium isn’t the only pigment that historically seemed harmless or useful but turned out to be deadly. Lesson by J. V. Maranto, animation by Juan M. Urbina.
If you “Dig Deeper” you will find an Additional Resources for you to Explore section with these tidbits:
Lead in paint was used in artwork and cosmetics into the 1970s. Why was it so popular? One major reason for its popularity was drying time. For more information on lead paint in artwork, watch Flake White | History of Colors by LittleArtTalks.
What else has lead been used for in the past? Find out about the uses of this Treacherous Element. Arsenic Pills and Lead Foundation: The History of Toxic Makeup. Finally, this TED-Ed lesson will provide more background on this element.
Scheele’s Green and Paris Green were some of the most popular pigments in history. The Toxic Side of Being, Literally, Green is a great resource about the difficulties associated with creating that “just right” shade of green. For more on toxic Victorian wallpaper, read: Could this wallpaper kill you? Victorian Britain’s lethal obsession with the perfect shade of green. Finally, LittleArtTalks has another great lesson on this topic: Color That Killed Napoleon: Scheele’s Green.
Are there any other dangerous pigments lurking around? Visit Pigments Through the Ages and find out. Then, learn more about Cadmium: The rare paint pigment faces a Europe-wide ban and artists are seeing red.
Love antiques and those brightly hued older dinner plates and bowls? Start here: How Radioactive Is Fiesta Ware? for more information on how safe they are.