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There might be mold growing in your dorm room

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Mold in a dorm room on East Green. Photo by Sam Smith.

Some students at Ohio U have reported mold growing in their residence hall rooms. And while the university is addressing the problem, some students don’t think it’s being addressed quickly enough.

Several Ohio University students report difficulty after finding mold in their dorms as the university works to fix the problem.

“I checked our vents, and the mold was in there pretty thick. But that’s just where my problems began,” freshman Jordan Knisley said. Jordan, a resident of East Green, reported finding the mold in his dorm after he and his roommate had been experiencing several symptoms, including runny noses, nosebleeds, sinus inflammation and excessive coughing and sneezing.

Mackenzie Elliot, a freshman who lived on South Green, found mold in her dorm after going to the doctor for flu-like symptoms. At the health clinic, she was told that her symptoms were for allergies and that she should check her vents for mold. Sure enough, it was there.

“We have an expeditious process in place to remediate mold when it is identified by an occupant of a University Space to a housing or facilities management and safety representative,” Housing and Residence Life said in a statement. But both Jordan and Mackenzie report strikingly similar issues with this process.

“They told me to file a maintenance report, so I did that. The maintenance people didn’t come for about two weeks, and I was dying,” Mackenzie said. When the filter in her air conditioner was replaced and her symptoms persisted, an inspector from the Environmental Health and Safety department was sent. He identified that the mold was growing on nearly all wooden surfaces in her room.

Mackenzie filed for a room change and said that the university was very helpful throughout this process. However, due to the length of her exposure, the ordeal concluded with three visits to a health clinic. The first visit resulted in her being given an antihistamine to combat her allergic reaction. Her second visit came with a diagnosis of bronchitis, for which she was given an antibiotic. Her final visit resulted in a diagnosis of tonsillitis and another antibiotic. Mackenzie attributes these to the role the mold played against her health.

While Mackenzie’s issues were ultimately resolved and she is happy in her new room, Jordan exhibits a less positive attitude.

When Jordan’s mold was addressed, he felt it was neither timely enough nor sufficient. He says that his floor’s Residential Custodial Staff came with a sponge and water to clean the vent. The RCS also believed that the mold was dust. Like Mackenzie, Jordan was still experiencing symptoms and not satisfied with the cleaning. He then requested a room change.

“I was stuck finding a new roommate somewhere in the same hall. I am now on a different floor, but the mold is still there. Nothing has been done about it yet, even though I was assured it was clean,” says Jordan, whose symptoms have gotten even worse in the new room.

Mackenzie and Jordan aren’t the only residents currently living with the mold and awaiting improvement.

“I submitted a work order for the removal of mold. Now, about a week or so later, the order has been marked as completed. But, I’ve looked in my vent and there has been no change in the mold,” East Green resident Justin Riley said.

Justin says his roommate has been to the doctor twice for respiratory issues. He points out that this is a common symptom of mold exposure. Justin’s parents plan on bringing him a breathing mask so that he can clean the mold himself.

“Molds are found in virtually every environment and can be detected, both indoors and outdoors, year round. Mold can be more problematic during periods of high humidity and warmer temperatures,” the HRL statement on mold says.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, symptoms of mold exposure include sinus inflammation, sneezing, coughing, fatigue, eye irritation, and skin irritation. The longer the exposure, the worse the symptoms.

If you suspect you have been exposed to mold, check your air vent and other surfaces in your room. Mold can have several appearances, but it is often blotchy and of a black or green color. It can even have a distinct odor, which is a result of the mold releasing mycotoxins.

“Remediation measures vary based on the situation but generally include cleaning and treatment to inhibit recurrence.  Students experiencing issues with mold should contact Facilities Management and Safety (FMS) so that they can take corrective action as necessary,” the HRL statement concludes.

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