We think of asbestos problems as only happening to everyday working people – people who work with their hands in places like shipyards, auto repair shops, heating and insulating companies. Or to their family members who may breathe in asbestos dust brought home on the clothes and tools of the worker.
The truth is asbestos problems can happen to anyone anywhere – even to someone who is very wealthy and lives in a grand home. Or in this case a palace. And the danger of asbestos problems can confront all kinds of people, even British royalty.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, also known as Prince William and Kate, reportedly just spent between $6 and $7 million dollars to have asbestos removed from Kensington Palace along with other repairs, according to a celebrity news website.
“The repairs included fixing the home’s roof, removing asbestos, renovating several residential rooms (including Prince George’s nursery), and refurbishing electrical and plumbing work,” the website report said.
The royal couple’s new home has been undergoing asbestos removal along with other repair work since 2011. Asbestos removal can be a slow, complex and expensive process. If not done correctly, the work can result in the release of dangerous asbestos fibers into the atmosphere. Although asbestos is an effective insulation material, it also is the leading cause of mesothelioma, a lethal cancer of the cells lining the lungs.
And the royal lungs, like anyone else’s, must be safeguarded, especially the royal baby’s. Children’s lungs are especially sensitive to asbestos exposure. Also because it is a historic building, stringent guidelines must be adhered to in the renovations.
Kensington Palace became a royal residence in the 1600s and has been renovated several times since. The last major renovation at the Palace in London was in 1960, at a time when asbestos use was at its peak. It was used insulation, in floors and ceiling tiles, and throughout the aging Palace. The palace originally was known as Nottingham House and has been in the Royal Family since 1689. The residence was last used by Princess Margaret, who died in 2002.
Although asbestos once was used in the construction of both commercial and residential buildings, it is heavily regulated today in England and the United States and virtually has been banned in new construction outside of a few developing countries.