Asbestos Discovered in New York City’s Mayoral Residence

Illustration of potential asbestos exposure in a building

Last month, asbestos was uncovered in the roof of the Upper East Side Gracie Mansion, which is currently occupied by Mayor Bill de Blasio and his family. Because of the possibility of this hazardous material causing cancer, in particular mesothelioma, its removal will begin this month.

“There have definitely been some live leaks at Gracie Mansion – and I mean leaks where the water drips down from the roof, and not the other kind of leaks,” said Blasio. “Hopefully we’ll have a long-term solution that will fix the roof, but also get the asbestos out,” said Blasio. He hopes the reconstruction efforts will be swift.

Asbestos exposure can cause malignant mesothelioma, a rare type of cancer that occurs in the thin layer of cells lining the body’s internal organs, known as mesothelium. But pleural mesothelioma is the most common form of the disease that occurs in the lining of the lung known as the pleura.

Blasio, his wife, and two children plan to remain in the house during the abatement process. Officials claimed the work should not cause any dangers to the family’s health.

This past winter was particularly difficult at the Gracie Mansion, as the roof was continuously in need of crews to patch numerous problems areas. Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg had set aside $3 million in 2012 to replace the 30-year-old roof. Although he never lived in the mansion, he frequently held meetings and ceremonial events there. When the work began on the leaky roof, the pockets of the asbestos were discovered in multiple locations.

“Gracie Mansion is one of Manhattan’s oldest structures built more than 200 years ago and as with any older homes, maintenance is necessary,” said Peter Kadushin, the mayoral spokesman. “Beginning this month, Gracie Mansion will undergo asbestos abatement and some long-needed roof repairs.”

The masonry will be dismantled and a crumbling chimney will be replaced. The new roof will be made of an asphalt shingle as well as new material to protect against leaks. The work should be completed by October or November.

Regional Management, Inc. won the contract for $250,000 and Nicholson and Galloway was awarded the roof replacement for $3.4 million. The home was built in 1799 and is actually managed by the nonprofit Gracie Mansion Conservancy. It did not become the official mayoral residence until 1942.

“The asbestos situation was discovered in the context of trying to figure out how to shore up the roof in general, so here we’ll hopefully have a long term solution that will fix the roof, but also get the asbestos out,” said Blasio in a news conference.