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Trucker Sick from Sludge

September 5, 2008

My name is Rebecca Ann Frampton. In 1999 I started hauling biosolids for Duffield Hauling Inc. About a month into the hauling I noticed that I began having head aches along with diarrhea and my eyes began to burn and itch. When I was hired I was only told that the only thing I would need to handle the biosolids safely was a pair of gloves never even specified what type of gloves and the only thing 1 was told about the biosolids was that it wasn’t very pleasant to get on my hands that in its self was a no brainer but that the biosolids and the grit and screenings were not harmful to me. Well along with the headaches and the diarrhea, burning and itching eyes I was also becoming more tired all the time. When I had to get in the bed of the truck to shovel out what was stuck in the bed after dumping I was breathing the steam and gases not to mention the dust was very nauseating not to mention actually throwing up and that didn't happen just once either.

We would have safety meetings and I would ask the safety personal how safe is this biosolids. It was not the only driver to ask this very same question and we were always told it is safe you have nothing to worry about. Well about a year later my back broke out in a red blistered rash and it itched so bad that nothing I put on it would ease the itch the only thing I could was to buy a back scratcher and carried to work with me and when I did scratch the rash on my back it would bleed and just itch that much worse. I told my supervisor the rash on my back and he said oh its just dry skin I then told him about how tired I was getting and the headaches getting worse and headaches are something I very rarely got the only thing he did was look at me as if he wasn’t interested in what I was saying to him and still to this day I still have a problem with this rash coming and going I never had any of these kind of problems before this but it does come back it only seems like it gets worse and I itch all over. My face would itch I was always having to rub my face around my mouth and nose.

Almost every load that I hauled would stick in the bed of the truck and I would have to set out and shovel it most of the time there would thousands of pounds stuck in the bed of the truck and I would have to climb into the bed of the truck to shovel it out and having to breathe the steam and the gases would take my breath away that’s how strong the smell of the gases and steam were coming off the biosolids in the bed of the trailer and in the winter the load of biosolids would freeze and with the bed fully raised up I would have to stand between the tail gate and the trailer bed and chip away at the frozen sludge and hope to god that the whole 23 or 24 ton load would not break loose all at once and crush me have gotten brain burn (as in brain freeze) from breathing the steam and gases there were times I had to call in sick because when I got up in the morning at 2:00 am to get ready for work I would get severe stomach pains they were so bad that I would have to lay back in the bed. By this time my symptoms were only getting worse. I was getting colds mire often they would stay with me for two or three months at a time my throat would stay sore most of the time it felt like my brain was swelled all the time. I started having times were I would having spells several times a day. Flu like symptoms that would come and go, getting out of bed became a chore.

The longer I hauled biosolids and grit and screenings my bones and muscles ached worse I started getting sores on the insides of my mouth and it felt like I had a lot of pressure in my chest and lungs from time to time I would tell my supervisor about these symptoms I was having and that I was sick and tired of being so tired that I felt like I couldn’t one foot in front of the other and that I didn’t think I could keep going day in and day out with the way I was feeling and with the diarrhea getting worse that just made it even harder. He had asked me what time I was going to bed and I told him that I didn’t care if the president of the united states was at my house I go to bed no later than 7 0'clock p.m and get up at 2 a.m that is seven hours of sleep and I shouldn’t feel this tired well needless to say he had nothing to say at that point. My supervisor would try and make me work on the weekends but there was no way that I would be able to do that, on the weekends if I made it to the grocery store I was doing something because I was so tired. I felt so bad that my weekends were spent lying on the couch or in bed it really took a toll on my personal life. My mind wanted to move and get things done but my body kind of shut down on me when I would get home from work it was all I could do to get a shower and eat alot of the time I would just shower and go to bed some nights I wouldn’t get home until seven or eight at night.

In 2004 we started hauling grit and screenings (untreated biosolids) the stuff would always get on my shoes, clothes and in my hair, my eyes and on my skin. My skin would itch and burn when it got on my skin. When my gloves would get wet while wearing them the skin would sometimes peel off. While I was still hauling that stuff (sludge) I had days where I was so tired I had to pull my truck over and take a nap not just once but many times. Other drivers were also having to do the same thing that I was doing, pulling over to take a nap when we started hauling grit and screenings we were never trained on or about the health risks involved with the safe handling of grit and screenings nor were we ever given the proper safety equipment to properly handle that stuff also that is the same for the treated biosolids.

There was a time when I hauled a load of grit and screenings to King George County landfill I was untarping my trailer bed to get ready to dump it and my tarp had gotten stuck and I had to climb on top of the trailer to get the tarp unrolled the gases and steam coming from the load of sludge was so bad that I got dizzy and threw up. I had told another driver what had happened he then told me that the same thing happened to him he said he had to get inside his trailer after he dumped his load to shovel out what hadn’t came out when he dumped his load in doing so he also got sick and threw up another driver had found a hypodermic needle stuck on the back of the trailer after he dumped the load of sludge and after that he then refused to haul grit and screenings after that.

While hauling the biosolids and the grit and screenings this stuff would get on me there was no avoiding it since we were not given any safety equipment to properly handle that stuff (sludge) therefore I was carrying the stuff home and also getting it in my personal vehicle so I basically lived with this stuff eating and breathing it not only me but also my husband and son had to live with it to for almost five years. I had starting telling my husband that I feel like this stuff was killing me so at that point we started doing research we found an astounding amount of information on the internet (about biosolids) and the 60,000 or more chemicals in this stuff.

I would haul a load of grit and screenings and whatever was stuck in my trailer after shoveling out as much as I could get out and whatever was left got mixed in with the next load of biosolids that was to be spread on a field. I later learned much later that this was cross-contamination also I was never told to wash out the bed of the truck after hauling grit and screenings nor was there even a place to do this. When I finally got a weeks vacation by the end of the week I began to breathe a little better and the headaches were not as intense while talking to other drivers I learned they

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