Rehab involves four-letter words: Lead and mold

Our story so far: We proceed with caution as we renovate a 126-year-old Methodist church into our home.

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Immediately after putting in the offer on the church, our real estate agent sent us a seventeen-page brochure, “Protect Your Family From Lead in Your Home.”

“Many houses and apartments built before 1978 have paint that contains high levels of lead,” the pamphlet warned. The list of health hazards read like a drug ad in an AARP publication: Lead from paint, chips and dust can cause high blood pressure, nerve disorders, muscle and joint pain, memory and concentration problems and digestive problems.


So when we finally got inside the church, we tested a number of surfaces. No lead.

Then more than one former parishioner in the church suggested we had a mold problem. The list of symptoms from mold allergies was worse than lead exposure: Everything from runny nose and coughing to internal bleeding and death.

Tyler scoffed at this notion that we had anything more than a pedestrian mold problem, but we disposed of anything porous that was in the basement (where we had witnessed a water problem). One warm December day, early in the demolition process, Tyler donned his Tyvek suit, a respirator and safety goggles and power-washed the entire basement, including the furnace room which once in its history had a coal chute.

Only a Virgo.

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Tomorrow: We get the results of an asbestos test. Read about it here.

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