I reported a story at 5 and 6 pm tonight on new reports that show significant levels of mold in the air and on surfaces in several areas of the Broward County Courthouse.
The reports were shown to me by attorney Robert McKee of Krupnick Campbell. He is suing on behalf of more than a dozen courthouse employees.
McKee hired Dr. Richard Lipsey — a toxicologist — to check 8 areas in the courthouse on the upper floors. The work was done in mid-January.
McKee said the reports are so damaging that he intends to ask a judge to shut down part of the courthouse.
“This building is clear that is been nothing more than band aids in maintenance instead of a system attempt to correct it,” McKee told me. “The correct thing to do here is make sure everyone is safe, get them out.”
Specifically, McKee said the reports show “abnormal levels of certain molds that are known to present risk to human health.”
We’ve seen mold on the walls in the old section of the courthouse and we’ve reported numerous times about floods and water leaks in the building.
McKee believes the report shows the mold at levels that could lead to cancer.
“Fungi can not only get into your lungs and bother you if you are allergic to them but they also excrete certain chemicals that are airborne,” he explained. “Those are known to present risks to the lungs and the liver, to cells in general such that with enough exposure, enough longevity of that exposure may even present cancer risks.”
Another disturbing part of the report, McKee said, is what was found in some of the air vents.
“Bacteria that is normally found in fecal matter that is literally on the air registers,” he said. “Meaning that that (HVAC) system has become a repository and then a spreader of whatever has been found in the air over time.”
Three Broward judges have requested to be moved to other offices at the courthouse after they requested testing in the wake of the death of Judge Cheryl Aleman in December. Aleman, a non-smoker, died from lung cancer.
I asked Chief Judge Victor Tobin about possibly closing the courthouse in the wake of the new lab reports.
“I don’t think I can just close the courthouse based on one expert’s report,” Tobin told me, adding that experts would have to “test the whole place repetitively.”
Tobin said the county is in the process of hiring its’ own experts to test the courthouse. He did not have a timetable on when that testing would be done.
McKee said a decision needs to be made quickly for the benefit of the hundreds of people who work there.
We’ll keep you posted.