By Chris Shaddock
Mold has been found in several buildings throughout campus throughout the past few weeks, due to the unusual weather this summer. DeSales Emergency Service Coordinator, Dennis Rasley, has responded to the situation by hiring Air Care & Restoration Co. who are working on eradicating and preventing the mold from coming back.
According to certified indoor environmental and certified microbial consultant, Keith Roe, this year has been one of the highest mold count levels ever recorded in the North East. The mold count level has ranged from 3,000 to 233,000 spores per cubic meter, which is “an extraordinarily high number.” Mold problems have occurred in many other campuses this year as well. Some have actually had to close down some of their dorm buildings, due to the problem being so large.
“Every time you open a door or walk into a place, you are bringing a certain amount of mold spores inside,” said Roe. “When they are extremely high outside, they come inside at extremely high levels.”
All mold needs to grow on is organic material. The humidity within buildings, accentuated further by the humidity and warmth outside due to the unusual monsoon weather this summer have cause the mold to spread bountifully this year.
The mold found in the buildings is actually two different, but basically identical molds called aspergillus penicillium. They are common indoor molds.
“What would constitute a major panic is if the mold spore levels in the dorms were way above outside, and 99 percent of the time they are not,” said Roe. “But they are higher than they normally have been, so they are going to get attention where they would not have been. Because mold grows so rapidly we now have mold growing so much that it can be seen, where before you might have had a little mold in the corner of your room or in your trash can.”
While classified as toxigenic, their toxins are not dangerous to humans, only to other forms of fungi it is competing against environmentally. However, prolonged exposure to any mold over the course of time can cause respiratory issues.
“There is no black toxic mold in any of the dorms here at DeSales,” said Roe. “I’ve tested 200 rooms and we have nothing to worry about there.”
The buildings mainly affected by the mold are Dorothy Day, Donohue, Tocik and Comny. There have been other buildings where mold has been found, such as Dooling and Aviat, but there has only been a small amount within these buildings.
Air care and Restoration Co. has been working extensively to deal with the mold. They started with an air test to determine how much mold was in the buildings in comparison to outside. Then, if the mold problem is bad, they pull the students out of their dorms, so they can purify the rooms and clean up the mold.
“We have cleaned and cleared dozens of rooms and we will continue until we are all done,” said Roe.
There has been a lot of concern and confusion among students and parents, but so far the mold issue has been nothing to worry about.
“The students have been pretty positive about things,” said Rasley. “There have been a couple inquiries from parents, but the students have been great to work with. Any students with mold allergies have been moved right out by the university.”
It is possible that the mold could come back next year if the climate acts in a similar way, which it possibly could due to environmental changes occurring around the world. However, the university is placing precautionary measures such as air purifiers and air dehumidifiers in buildings to keep mold from growing.