Why White, Green, and Orange Are the Deadliest Colors in History

Michele Debczak
James, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
James, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 / James, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Today’s beauty companies would have trouble selling makeup labeled “radium green.” But when it was first discovered, the element held a mystical allure that made it a popular addition to cosmetics (and just about any other product manufacturers could work it into).

As the video from TED-Ed explains below, synthetic green made from radium or arsenic joins lead white and uranium orange as pigments that were embraced commercially before their deadly side effects became common knowledge. Fortunately, dresses dyed with arsenic and houses painted with lead are an endangered breed these days. But if you're storing any vintage orange Fiestaware in your kitchen, be careful not to let it touch your food.