London, England - As the Queen's accounts and spending becomes public, Her subjects learn just how a royal spends tax payer's money. Leading the Queen's bills is a £1 million spent on removing asbestos – a known carcinogen – from Buckingham Palace.
In the accounting details, the money was spent safely removing asbestos from cables underneath the floors, stemming from a project to modernize the 1940s electrical starting last year.
According to Palace projections, it will take over 20 years to remove all of the remaining asbestos to the tune of couple million pounds of tax payer's money.
However, the Palace recognizes the importance of spending this money to ensure that not only the Queen, the Royal Family and members of the court are protected from potential asbestos exposure but also the public who frequent visit the Royal residence.
Buckingham Palace's plumbing and electrical systems were updated in the 1940s, and as it was common practice, new plumbing and electrical materials typically contained asbestos. According to the Queen's accounts, “The mechanical and electrical services at Buckingham Palace were largely installed in 1949 and are in need of replacement.”
Now, the naturally occurring mineral is a known carcinogen and has been since banned in virtually all industrialized nations including Great Britain.
However, like the Palace, asbestos longevity is posing serious health problems. As the material ages, the asbestos may disintegrate thus increasing the risk dramatically for exposure. Safe removal of asbestos and subsequent updating of out-dated plumbing and electrical systems are paramount.
The Palace is ensuring that those removing the asbestos are taking all necessary and required safety precautions. In general, asbestos does not pose an immediate health threat; however, it is only when the material disintegrates or is disturbed in any way, causing small particles to become airborne, does the threat to health rise. Asbestos exposure is linked to many different health conditions including several types of cancers.
Chief among the cancers is mesothelioma, caused by asbestos particles embedding in the lungs, heart or abdominal cavity, and causing extensive scarring. This scarring eventually develops into the rare and deadly cancer.