Asbestos abatement never will be scrutinized more than in the coming months when it begins at the future home of Prince William and Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
Ever under the public microscope, the closely watched Royal couple, who were married in April at Westminster Abbey, recently announced their intention of moving into much-larger Kensington Palace home. They won’t do so until it undergoes a year-long remodeling that will include asbestos removal.
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.
Exposure to asbestos is the primary cause of mesothelioma, the deadly cancer that kills thousands of people each year. It can take anywhere from 10-50 years after exposure before symptoms appear. It normally attacks the lining around internal organs.
The presence of asbestos in the future home of William and Kate, both 29, has become an international story because the couple is expected soon to be starting a family. The Royal bloodlines are a major concern throughout Great Britain. There already has been considerable speculation that Kate is pregnant.
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 for insulation, in floor 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. A Palace official told People Magazine that William and Kate are not expecting to move in until the summer of 2013.
“Early indications suggest that large quantities of asbestos will have to be removed, as well as work on the heating and hot water systems and electrical wiring,” said the statement to People. “The extent of the work needed to turn the apartment back into a home is not yet known.”
William and Kate currently live nearby on the same grounds in a two-bedroom apartment, which will go to Prince Harry when their move is complete. The family-friendly mansion comes with a heliport outside, which is ideal for a couple doing considerable travel. According to Palace officials, their Palace will include three large reception rooms and four bedrooms on three different floors.
The asbestos issue at the Palace is a positive for those wanting to raise awareness concerning the lethal substance, and the importance of abatement, the process of removing or containing asbestos.
The mineral, once considered so wonderful because of many heat and fire retardant properties, remains prevalent throughout products manufactured before 1980 and construction completed throughout the 20th century.