How does mold make you sick?
Mold has appeared in college dormitories and buildings throughout Kentucky, and some students are fed up with the problem and how universities are handling it.
News outlets at Western Kentucky University, University of Louisville, Morehead State University and Eastern Kentucky University have reported the discovery of mold in various campus dorms and buildings. The students pay substantial sums to reside in some of those buildings.
At WKU, nearly 350 students were told last week they were to be relocated from Minton Hall after campus representatives found mold in the building, according to a release from the university. Students were told the university would help them find housing.
WKU plans to reopen the dorm in time for the spring semester; some students were unhappy the university didn’t do more to prevent the problem.
“I understand the situation and so I’m not really mad at the people in charge, but it is frustrating,” freshman Emily Stringer, from Louisville, told the Bowling Green Daily News. “I wish they had done more cleaning and inspecting over the summer so that we didn’t have to move into this sort of situation.”
Another student, Natalie Duggins, also from Louisville, told WDRB she and her roommate had horrible coughs and “literally could not breathe” after moving in to their Minton Hall dorm.
Allergic reactions to mold are common, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, and can cause asthma attacks in people with asthma and irritation to the eyes, skin, nose, throat and lungs. Allergic responses include sneezing, runny nose, red eyes and skin rash, the EPA states.
Minton Hall is not the only dorm at WKU that has had recent mold issues. The WKU Herald reported Bowling Green freshman Adriana Qehaja became ill and had to undergo tonsil surgery due to mold in the HVAC unit of her Bemis Lawrence Hall dorm room in June.
She told the Herald that when she returned to her dorm two weeks before school started, she began having “unbearable and throbbing” headaches.
WKU began taking steps — wiping down surfaces and checking each room’s air conditioner / heating unit —to combat the mold issue at three separate housing facilities in September, the Herald reported.
Mold has erupted at other colleges in the state, including Morehead State. On Oct. 25, WTVQ reported students were concerned about a mold issue at Baird Music Hall.
A graduate assistant for the music department told WTVQ students were getting sick and did not want to be in the building. Another student told the station she felt like the university was failing the arts.
The Trail Blazer, Morehead State’s student newspaper, reported Oct. 31 three residential buildings on campus were targeted for mold cleaning. Like WKU, Morehead State was going door-to-door checking for mold and cleaning rooms, the student newspaper said.
Students haven’t been the only ones affected by mold at Morehead State. President Jay Morgan has been living off campus because mold was discovered in the heating and air conditioning units and duct work of his on-campus home, The Morehead News reported in September.
The best way to eliminate mold is to control moisture by reducing indoor humidity, according to the EPA.
Furman University suggests routinely cleaning bathroom areas, keeping ceiling vents in all areas open and reporting any water problems to prevent mold.
University of Louisville has also been dealing with a “mold-like substance” at Threlkeld Hall, according to the Courier-Journal. One student, Aedin Harpster, from Lexington, told the Courier-Journal mold has been found growing on her shoes and in other parts of her dorm.
Another student, Bethany Morgan, posted on Facebook Oct. 31 there have been cockroaches and mold in her Threlkeld Hall dorm and that the university was not taking people’s complaints seriously.
“People wonder why college students are so stressed. It’s not about our course work, it’s about our living conditions!” she said.
WHAS reported a UofL spokesman said housing officials have inspected the building and have immediately addressed concerns raised by students.
Mold can be grown almost anywhere, according to the EPA, including wood, paper, carpet and foods
Mold caused faculty to move out of an Eastern Kentucky University building. The Eastern Progress, EKU’s student newspaper, reported in August that faculty at Beckham Hall had to move from the first floor because of mold issues caused by leaks in the roofing.
When the university moved faculty to Keith Hall, mold was found there, so they were then moved to Miller Hall, the Eastern Progress reported. Even at Miller Hall, there were minor mold issues, according to the student newspaper.
Students at EKU’s Palmer Hall have also noticed mold-like substances growing in their rooms and one told the Eastern Progress it caused him to have two respiratory infections, a bad cough, weight loss and airway inflammation last year.