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Located on Ohio University's campus, Wray House endures a rainy afternoon on Thursday, February 6, 2020. (FILE)

Residence hall mold complaints continue despite test results indicating low spore count

Over the past few weeks, students in several Ohio University residence halls have reported finding mold in various locations in their rooms. However, OU maintains the levels were satisfactory. 

The university received several work requests from students in Wray, Hoover and Ewing Houses regarding the presence of spotted mold, according to a previous Post report

Complaints indicate mold in various locations, including ceilings, walls, closets and air conditioning units. 

Kendra Mckitrick, a sophomore studying geography, said residents on her floor in Bryan Hall witnessed mold and moisture seeping through the walls and ceiling as the humidity rose. After reporting the situation, facilities management came and cleaned up the visible damage, Mckitrick said. 

Additionally, students claimed the mold was causing them to be ill with cold-like symptoms, which were alleviated when away from the dorm. Rose Safford, a sophomore studying choral music education who also lives in Bryan, was first concerned about COVID-19 after beginning to show symptoms but tested negative.

“A lot of people who had the same symptoms as me also got tested for COVID, and that wasn't it. Some people got tested for the flu and strep, and that wasn't it. Some people got tested for mono … and they don’t have that,” Safford said.

Safford also said her symptoms diminished upon leaving town for a few days for an unrelated reason, and they returned once back in the hall. Similarly, Mckitrick said she was recently moved to quarantine dorms due to exposure to COVID-19. Once she was moved out of her dorm, the sore throat she had went away, Mckitrick said. 

“Some people have just been wiping it (the mold) up with Clorox wipes, and that’s been working fine,” Safford said.

The university has been unable to confirm that any illness is related to mold. 

“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,” Carly Leatherwood, a university spokesperson, said in an email. “Our response includes a timely evaluation by our experts followed by implementation of the appropriate corrective measures. Remediation measures vary based on the situation but generally include cleaning and treatment to inhibit recurrence.”

However, reports of mold in university residence halls date back several years. Between 2012 and 2017, 166 work orders were submitted for issues with mold, according to a previous Post report.

Steve Wood, chief facilities management officer, reiterated Leatherwood’s assurances in a Letter to The Editor on Sept. 10. Wood described the university’s change of occupancy procedure, which includes cleaning and painting spaces with antimicrobial paint as well as cleaning air conditioning units. 

“In short, we take the safety of our students very seriously, and we know that some students may be more sensitive to mold because of allergies or preexisting medical conditions. That’s why we have a robust system in place to work to prevent mold from growing and to respond quickly and effectively if it does,” Wood wrote in the letter. 

Samples taken Sept. 2 from at least two rooms where mold was reported indicated no presence of black mold. However, a direct sample taken from a closet in a reported room detected a type of mold with a spore count within an intermediate risk range, according to Enzcycle Lab’s Consumer Mold Guide

Leatherwood said mold airborne spore counts were significantly lower than outside air, meaning the counts were considered satisfactory. 

@sophielisey 

sy951319@ohio.edu

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