Radioactivity? What radioactivity? Before scientists understand the dangers of radioactivity, uranium was used to color
Uranium was first used to color glass in the 1830s and it has continued to be used for this purpose with the exception of a fifteen year (or so) period beginning in World War II. Prior to World War II, natural uranium was used, but when Vaseline glass production resumed in 1959, the switch was made to depleted uranium (DU). All of the items shown here contain natural uranium except the tube on the right which contains depleted uranium. At present (2004), a few companies in the U.S. are still making Vaseline glass (e.g., Boyd Crystal Art Glass, Mosser, Summit Glass and Fenton Glass), but it is exclusively of the decorative variety. No dinnerware is being made.
Buckley et al (1980) estimated that there were at least 4,160,000 pieces of decorative uranium glass produced in the US between 1958 and 1978 and 15,000 drinking glasses from 1968 to 1972.