From the Times Newsweekly:
Fearing that she might again be facing a bout with lung cancer, Anne Maitrano-Hernandez and her husband began pulling up the carpet of Summerfield Street home on the advice of her doctor, who suggested that they remove anything that could be carcinogenic.
Elevated mercury levels were found in the soil of the garden in front of the cottage previously occupied by Anne Maitrano-Hernandez and her husband. Elevated mercury levels were found in the soil of the garden in front of the cottage previously occupied by Anne Maitrano-Hernandez and her husband. But when they pulled up the rug in their dining room, they found another potentially serious problem: a broken mercury thermometer sandwiched between the floorboards. To this day, Maitrano-Hernandez has no idea how it got there.
She and her husband first moved into the small cottage they rented from Ernest and Georgeta Deitel on Summerfield Street near Myrtle Avenue in 1997. The building cannot be seen from the sidewalk, as it is located behind a two-family home and a garage.
Upon moving in, Maitrano-Hernandez told the Times Newsweekly, she heard from neighbors that the site was once used as a factory and, later, a dance hall; there were rumors that thermometers were once made on site, but there was no known evidence on public record to confirm that as its former use.
In recent years, Maitrano-Hernandez developed a host of health problems, and her husband developed unexplained tremors. Sensing a possible connection between their home and illnesses, Maitrano-Hernandez called the Department of Health in June to conduct an inspection for mercury contamination.
The results were startling, as the DOH report obtained by the Times Newsweekly showed that levels of mercury well above federal safety levels were found through the residence, prompting the agency to take action.
After advising her and her husband to leave the premises, in July, the DOH served her landlord with a order to clear the premises within five days and to have a licensed environmental professional conduct further testing on site and abate the contamination.