Students suspect mold cause sickness

Palmer Hall was built in 1965 and named after the EKU Regent Wilson Palmer.

As freshman moved into their dorms at Palmer Hall, a few noticed a mysterious substance growing in different parts of their room.

Hailey Guest, a resident in Palmer Hall, said some was growing on top of her AC unit.

“A few days after moving in to Palmer Hall I noticed a strange substance that resembled mold on my AC unit,” Guest said.

Guest reported the substance to her RHC and maintenance came a few days later removing the substance off the AC unit. 

“Most of the cases that they receive about mold turn out to not be mold at all, but something that students might think looks like mold,” said Bryan Makinen, executive director of public safety and risk management.

Makinen said he was unaware of a mold issue in Palmer other than one case reported in the showers, which turned out to not be mold. 

Makinen acknowledges that mold could be inside dorms, but said mold is everywhere, inside and outside, and students need to be aware of what is in their dorm rooms that might cause the mold to grow.

Mold needs moisture, high temperature, oxygen and organic sources to grow. If students have indoor plants or spilled beverages and old food in their room, or indoor plants, it can cause spores to open for mold growth.

When testing a room for mold, maintenance wants results of the mold inside to be one-third of the amount of mold outside of the location.

If students find something they believe is mold, they should report it the RHC as soon as they notice the problem.

Nathaniel Van-Allen, a sophomore, lived in Palmer Hall for two months last fall and said he started to get sick. He suffered from two respiratory infections, a bad cough, weight loss and airway inflammation.

“When I went to the doctor they had no idea what was causing my respiratory infections,” Van-Allen said.

Later he discovered what he thought to be mold in his room, but mold was never confirmed, nor was the mold determined to be the cause of Van-Allen’s illness.

After reporting the substance to the RHC, Van-Allen  and his roommate moved into Burnham for the rest of the fall semester and the beginning of spring semester.

After changing dorms, Van-Allen started to recover from some of his ailments.

He moved back into Palmer during room changes of the spring semester, and did not notice mold or any other problems.

“If a student believes they are getting sick from something in their dorm or something located outside their room, they have the right to report it and request to move to a different dorm,” Makinen said.

Makinen said if public safety gets involved, they do what they can to make the rooms safe for the students.

While not every reported case turns out as mold, specialized teams treat the case as if the substance was mold until confirmed otherwise.

After a case is resolved, Makinen and the maintenance team conduct post monitoring to make sure everything was addressed appropriately. They monitor multiple sites more than once and compare outdoor molds across campus.

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