Co News Editor
Mold on indoor surface areas can cause serious health problems including throat infections, eye irritation, memory loss, chronic body aches, and more. Surface mold that can cause these types of illnesses have been found on McDaniel’s campus in this past year.
Different cases of mold have been reported in various buildings. George Brenton, the Director of Physical Plant, explained that his office receives two to three mold complaints a year. He said that the office tries to deal with the work order as fast they can and based on the severity of the complaint. Brenton explained that his office receives over 5,500 work orders in a school year.
One student, who wished to remain anonymous, said he found large amounts of mold in his dorm room in ANW, along the back walls of his closet. This student said he notified Residence Life about the issue, and a staff member was sent to remediate the mold the same or next day. This student expressed satisfaction with the speed and manner in which the mold was cleared up.
Garden Apartments appears to be another building susceptible to mold. Sophomore, Shelby Parenteau said there is mold growing in the windowsills of her common room and two of the bedrooms. Shelby’s housemate, junior Mike Mandel, said that he reported the mold to his resident assistant but has received no response to the issue.
Brenton acknowledged the presence of mold in the Garden Apartments. He said his office is unsure of the cause of the mold outbreaks so far, but that the contractor of the apartments is investigating the cause. Although he suspects the cause to be related to the recent renovations of the building, the new air conditioning system, and the damage to the gutters.
Another student living in a different Garden Apartment reported mold growing on her windowsill, against her bed, to her resident assistant in February. After receiving an email from an area coordinator assuring her that the mold would be taken care of, it took the school over two months to clean up the area. Brenton explained that cases like this are often caused by miscommunication between the Residence Life Office, who receives the complaints, and the Physical Plant, who solves them.
In her email she explicitly mentioned that she believed the mold to be the cause of some chronic illnesses she had been suffering from including headaches, a common health effect of mold exposure. Although the student has not been diagnosed with mold allergies, an associate at Hanover Express Care Doctors Office said a person does not need to have mold allergies to be medically effected by mold.
However, there are some campus members that have been diagnosised with mold allegories that did come into contact with mold on campus, professor Priscilla Ord reported that she suspected mold was growing in the staircase below her office, on the ground level of Hill Hall. While Ord’s health was not affected by the outbreak, she expressed concern that if the mold were to reach her office, it might.
Ord said she first contacted the physical plant when she noted the ceiling and window were wet. Bobby Anderson, English Department Secretary who also witnessed the mold outbreak, said that she noticed the area was hot. Anderson said that after the heat and dampness were prevalent for a while, a visible mold began to appear. Anderson said the mold covered parts of the wall and ceiling.
Ord said that although there was a long break in time between her initial complaints and the visible remediation of the mold, she believed the Physical Plant to be working on the problem. Indeed, Brenton confirmed that the Physical Plant began working on the remediation process gradually.
Brenton explained that for cases of large mold outbreaks, such as the one in Hill Hall, outside mold remediation specialist company INX-Tech are used. He said that initially INX-Tech tested the air for allergens, and determined them to be non-toxic.
He then said that solving the cause of the mold outbreak, a leak in a steam pipe, was tricky because it broke during winter. Brenton explained that to fix the pipe the heat had to be turned off in two buildings, and so his office had to plan to fix the pipe when the least amount of people would be in the building. Eventually however his office was able to fix the leak in the pipe, stopping the cause of the mold growth.
Brenton explained that INX-Tech cut out parts of the wall and floor, and removed a bench penetrated by the mold. He said the wall was then sealed with a primer called Bulls Eye 1-2-3, which is a mold resistant stain killer, and the bench was replaced with a wooden box to better cover the steam pipes.
Brenton said that the manner in which the mold is taken care of depends on the severity of the mold. He said that mold in smaller amounts, is typically treated with a liquid substance of bleach and another chemical, and then sealed with a mold resistant paint. Although he noted that an outside expert is always consulted on how to handle different mold outbreaks.
The correct remediation process of mold is disputable. Brenton said that INX-Tech advises to his office that if the drywall is dry and has not been damaged the surface can be treated, and does not need to be removed. However, Ivelin Kostadinov, an associate at EHI Mold Remediation Incorporated, said that mold always needs to be cut out of the surface it is growing on in order to prevent it from returning.
The Environmental Protection Agency website said that the proper treatment of mold does in fact vary from case to case, and can differ based upon professional opinion. However, the EPA website does advise against using bleach to treat mold, especially in living areas
Many campus members have strong opinions about the mold issues on campus. Parenteau said she wishes the school would’ve built the Garden Apartments correctly, so that the mold wouldn’t be an issue that needed correction. Sophomore Timmy Connors, would like to see the school improve ventilation in mold prone areas, and senior Ashleigh Smith added, “I want [the school] to take care of the building that I’m paying to live in.”