The Collegian
Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Mold found in living areas

A University of Richmond student said he and his apartmentmates were disgusted when they discovered mold on the their bathroom wall during their first week on campus this semester. The student, junior Jesse Lucabaugh, said he and his apartmentmates reported the finding to their resident adviser in the University Forest Apartments.

The RA called University Facilities and the mold was promptly removed during their apartment's scheduled weekly bathroom cleaning, he said. Lucabaugh's main concern about the mold was his health, because of his mold allergies, he said.

But he recognizes that mold is more likely to be prevalent in the apartments, as dorm bathrooms are cleaned more frequently, Lucabaugh said. He said he thought that mold was likely to grow in UFA because of the apartments' age and Virginia's humidity.

"It's difficult," Lucabaugh said. "Mold's a natural phenomenon you can't escape."

Junior Danielle Stokes, a third-floor resident of Robins Hall, did not escape the mold either. Mold grew around the air conditioning vent in her room, which made it very humid, she said. After she called facilities, staff members eliminated the mold, but did not explain its cause or relation to potential health concerns, she said. Stokes said she was concerned about the lack of explanation because of her allergies.

She was also concerned because her friend, who lived in the same building, went to the hospital earlier in the semester for treatment for an allergic reaction to mold, Stokes said. The reaction did not turn out to be a serious health concern, and the mold was removed from her friend's room, she said.

Westhampton College Dean Juliette Landphair said she had not been informed about any mold-related student hospitalizations, but would be ready to address major health concerns immediately. Landphair receives occasional calls from students and parents about mold every year, she said.

"I welcome those calls," she said. The mission of her office staff is to ensure academic achievement and to serve as a resource for students approaching problems that interrupt that goal, she said. Staff members are available to listen to and manage such concerns, and to refer them to the appropriate offices, Landphair said.

"I absolutely have faith in our facilities staff," she said.

When a complaint about mold is issued to University Facilities, it is referred to one of three staff members trained in mold inspection, said George Souleret, an engineer for the university and one of the mold inspectors.

The typical mold-related issues on campus involve leaky air conditioner units, roof and wall leaks and shower rooms in which condensation collects on the walls, he said. Mold is generally not a problem unless moisture is involved, he said.

The current problems with mold in North Court and Gray Court are largely caused by failed installation, Souleret said. "We're addressing those," he said. Facilities staff is also planning to install more robust fans in the apartments, particularly those that are attached to the lighting system, he said.

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In the apartments, the area with mold can be wiped and eliminated with a mild detergent solution, but ceiling tiles and wall boards in dorms often have to be replaced because such areas cannot dry quickly enough to contain the problem, Souleret said.

Students can also help prevent mold from spreading. Souleret said apartment residents should turn on the fan in the bathroom when the shower was running, and leave the fan running for at least an hour after, or until visible condensation had evaporated. All university residents should be aware that shoes and clothing left on the floors of closets can lead to mold growth, he said.

Overall, attention to cleanliness can help students avoid issues with mold, Souleret said. And whenever a problem does arise, facilities staff members are available to receive calls around the clock, he said.

Contact staff writer Katie Toussaint at katie.toussaint@richmond.edu

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