Understanding, Managing, and Living with the

Health Effects of Asbestos

What You Don’t Know Can’t Hurt You? Tell That to Drilling Mud Victims

January 21, 2014

Ellisville, MS The old adage of “what you don’t know won’t hurt you” does not apply to asbestos and the drilling mud that at one time housed it. Many a drilling mud lawsuit alleges that oil rig workers charged with the task of mixing powder with water and/or other chemicals to produce the drilling mud integral to the drilling industry had no clue as to the risk.

They either didn’t know it was asbestos they were using or had no idea asbestos exposure could be so dangerous. There have also been allegations that they were never told. And even though asbestos is said to be no longer used in the drilling industry, the incubation periods inherent with asbestos suggests that drilling mud engineers exposed to asbestos in the 1980s - when asbestos was reportedly still being used - have arrived at the window when asbestos disease and mesothelioma begin to reveal itself.

In this case, what you don’t know CAN hurt you. It can also take your life.

That’s what happened to Russel Eugene Nix, Sr. He succumbed just over two years ago, January 14, 2012, in his 76th year. Nix Sr. worked on the oil rigs and mixed drilling mud.

It left him with a drilling mud problem. In a videotaped deposition before he died, Nix noted that the powder used to mix drilling mud came in bags or large sacks, which were ripped open and the contents thrown into a hopper. There was dust everywhere. It left him with a diagnosis of mesothelioma 30 years on, with calcified asbestos harbored in the lower three inches of his left lung.

“Did you have any respiratory equipment, or protection?” Nix was asked.

“Never even thought about it.”

“Did anyone ever tell you that you needed to [wear protective gear] when you were handling the [substance]?”


It has been reported that asbestos was used as an additive in asbestos drilling mud from the 1960s through the 1980s before the dangers of asbestos began to gain traction in the public consciousness, and its use was scaled back. But that didn’t help Nix Sr., the mud engineer who was diagnosed with asbestos mesothelioma by six different doctors some 30 years after his exposure to asbestos. He did not survive. Mesothelioma patients rarely do.

The composition of drilling mud may have changed over the years. But that doesn’t help individuals who were exposed at the job site while working with asbestos without protective equipment, 30 years prior.

For them, the dark side of a former drilling mud system is just starting to haunt them now…