Asbestos is used in a wide range of products, and workers in many industries - including construction, oil and mechanical - have been exposed to the carcinogen. Drilling mud is used during oil drilling to flush debris. Mud engineers are the people responsible for preparing the mud, including mixing material. Because asbestos was mixed in with drilling mud, these mud engineers were repeatedly and routinely exposed to asbestos, without the proper safety gear in place and without any knowledge of what they were exposing their bodies to.
Some mud engineers say they often opened sacks of asbestos in small rooms, and likely breathed it in when the particles were airborne. Employees may have been exposed to asbestos over the course of decades. Unfortunately, it can also take decades for symptoms of asbestos-related health problems to arise, and once they do, there is very little that can be done for the patient.
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If asbestos remains intact, sealed and undisturbed, it is not a health risk. But when the fibers are air-borne, they can be inhaled by people in the vicinity, entering the person’s lungs and possibly causing serious health problems.
Lawsuits have been filed against some of the companies responsible for asbestos drilling mud. Some of those lawsuits have resulted in verdicts in the plaintiff’s favor, although one landmark award of $322 million was overturned by the judge and later came back with a verdict for the defense.