Tuesday, September 2, 2003
Carmel on the Case: Mold Infests Public Building
Mold is not only in our schools, it is in our public buildings. Tonight, Carmel Cafiero will show us a harmful mold growing in a local courthouse right in the felony filing room. What's being done about it? Carmel's on the case.
(WSVN) -- You just can't miss the mold growing on this wall inside the Broward County courthouse.
It's below the window in the felony filing division - an area used by the public for access to records.
Building maintenance has ignored this mold all summer long.
But Seven News hasn't.
We've been watching... And testing.
And what we found is pretty ugly.
Microbiologist John Pisani of Micrim Labs says, "I absolutely would not want to work in that kind of environment."
It was early June when we first spotted the mold.
Fast forward to July.
The mold is still there.
So is the torn wallpaper.
Nothing appears to have changed.
And when we went back in August - amazingly, things appeared to be exactly the same.
Three months of what turns out to be public exposure to toxic mold.
"I'm not a physician," says Pisani, "but I would tell you that a fair amount of people would react to the presence of something like this."
We took swabs of the mold to Micrim Labs in Coconut Creek.
Pisani grew the molds on petrie dishes and also checked them under the microscope.
His findings...Stachybotrys chartarum and chaetomium.
Both considered toxic molds that can cause allergic reactions.
And when you've got it, what does it mean?
"Well, it means that the area is heavily contaminated," says Pisani.
Who would be responsible for letting this happen?
"That would be me - ma'am," says Peter Hoffman.Peter Hoffman is the building manager.
"Our normal procedure is to attack that immediately," he says.
"What about this?" asks Carmel, pointing to tell-tale stains.
"The only thing I can tell you, ma'am, is that it slipped threw the cracks," Hoffman answers.
The area is part of the clerk of court's office.
Workers on the inside of the partition have not reported unusual illnesses, according to the office manager.
Clerk of Court Howard Forman says he was not aware of the problem. "I'm very concerned about it," he says.
But he says he will make sure it is corrected, right away.
"Health hazards are terrible anywhere," says Forman, "and that's why we're on top of this right now."
And overnight - a professional mold abatement company was called in to replace the wallboard.
Which it did.
This, after 85 days - maybe more - of potential contamination.
Do you have other mold problems in this building?
"At this particular time - not that I'm aware of," says Hoffman.
The jury is still out on just how much mold is too much mold in an indoor environment. So far, the government has not established guidelines. But experts agree - any mold in an indoor environment - is unacceptable.
If you have a story for Carmel or for more information, contact her at:
954-921-CLUE in Broward