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Double Toxic Whammy: Asbestos Drilling Mud and Asbestos Drywall Exposure

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Columbia, MSLike many people who worked with asbestos a few decades ago, Calvin, age 47, was never warned of its dangers. It never occurred to Calvin that he could wind up with a lung disease like asbestos mesothelioma or asbestosis from working with asbestos drilling mud.

Calvin worked at Singley Construction on Mississippi's land-based oil rigs in the early 1980s. "We mixed the drilling mud on the rigs and never wore safety equipment," he says. "We just wore our regular work clothes and a hard hat, and no one ever said it contained asbestos. I didn't find out until recently that this material you make mud with was toxic. Why didn't they tell us?"

And if asbestos drilling mud exposure isn't troubling enough, Calvin worked at Pioneer Aerospace, a parachute factory, for five years on weekends. "The building was condemned and torn down about five years ago because it was full of asbestos," he says.

Calvin, a Desert Storm vet, was diagnosed with cancer in 2005 and has undergone several surgeries since. "The roof of my mouth was removed and replaced with a flap and I have had a number of surgeries on my sinuses because the cancer keeps blocking them," he explains.

"When I was first diagnosed, doctors asked me if I worked around asbestos. At that time I didn't know. It wasn't until 2007 that I found out asbestos drilling mud and asbestos drywall contributed to, or was the entire blame for, my cancer. That was when I asked my health provider for a complete screening. I had chest x-rays and then they put some dye in my arm and I had a MRI—the asbestos fibers showed up."

Calvin's doctor told him that he had asbestos in his lungs. Up until that time he couldn't understand where the cancer came from; he never smoked and he was in really good shape. And he was young, in the prime of life. Calvin was diagnosed with lung adenocarcinoma, a disease linked to occupational exposure to asbestos. (See more here.)

"I also understand why my doctor won't come right out and attribute this cancer directly to asbestos," adds Calvin. "It is hard to get a doctor to blame your illness on asbestos, especially here in Mississippi, because the companies are still pumping oil. These doctors don't want to rock the well."

Calvin is understandably worried that he might die from lung cancer; he gets chest x-rays every six months. He is also seeing a psychiatrist for depression and is constantly worried about his health. "I have a family—six kids," he says. "Luckily my wife works but we have a hard time making ends meet on my VA and social security disability. I am very short-winded these days; the surgeries and radiation have stopped me from being active; sometimes I can't even leave the house.

"I would like to file a claim against the parachute factory; they knew the building was infested with asbestos while we worked there. I found out from co-workers; they have had multiple lawsuits already filed against the company. Of course I could have got it from Singley construction too—maybe go after both of them? I guess an asbestos attorney can decide on that."

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READER COMMENTS

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I worked at the Pioneer Aerospace Parachute Factory from 1972 - 1979. Please let me know who do I proceed to find out if I too might suffer from asbestos illnesses.
I worked through at Pioneer during my entire pregnancy with my oldest son.
I hope and pray that Pioneer pays for harm caused to us hard working individuals, who gave everything to them to make production and quality products for so many years.

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