U.S. District Judge Federico Moreno, the chief judge in Florida's Southern District, said in a memo that parts of the basement that house court records and a stairwell used by judges were being closed until further notice.
"The new steps we are taking may in fact be premature without further microbial testing, but nonetheless we intend to err on the side of caution," Moreno said in the memo dated Friday and obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press.
Moreno took action after receiving last week a new U.S. Public Health Service study, which found mold throughout the 166,000-square-foot building that opened in 1933. Known officially as the David W. Dyer building, the courthouse is one of several in Miami's downtown federal judicial complex.
• A basement sump pump room ''is disgusting,'' has no ventilation and ``is infested with pests.''
• Tests revealed a ''significant fungal presence'' in the basement records room, where previously recommended remedial work was never done. Court personnel have had to wear protective gear while in the room, including coveralls, gloves and a respirator. Water damage is present in an area where classified documents are kept.
• A stairwell leading to the magistrate judges' courtrooms has visible mold on the walls.
The Public Health Service report made 12 recommendations for fixing the mold problem, including repairing numerous water leaks, cleaning air ducts and furniture, replacing damaged ceiling tiles and carpets and throwing out unnecessary contaminated files.