December 6th, 2013
This semester, students in some areas of campus have contacted Residence Life and Housing or Facilities and Campus Services to report possible mold in their residence hall rooms.
Though mold spores can exist anywhere, are naturally present in the environment outdoors, and appear indoors for many reasons, our staff take every report seriously. We respond to every incoming message and investigate each situation.
As part of our protocol, when mold is found, prompt steps are taken to remove it and provide information to the student that can help reduce the chances of its return. The University has addressed mold issues in the past, including an extensive initiative this past summer, and will continue to do so when the need arises. Wake Forest strives year-round to make the student residential experience a good one and our commitment in that regard will remain strong.
Earlier this semester, the University shared information with students in the residence halls where reports of mold have been most prevalent. The following Q and A is intended to share details with parents about how the University is responding.
Q. When did students start contacting the University about mold this fall?
A. Residence Life and Housing staff heard from some students not long after classes began.
Q. How has Wake Forest responded?
A. Wake Forest has several methods of responding to reports of mold growth, including:
A longtime mold management plan that outlines how the trained staff identify and treat areas of potential growth. Developed in conjunction with third-party industrial hygienists, all practices within the plan are in line with guidelines provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Training staff members in our Department of Environmental Health and Safety and Facilities and Campus Services departments to act as mold assessors.
Treating and cleaning affected areas using a product that is mold inhibiting.
Enlisting a third-party contractor highly regarded for its environmental services. This contractor is working on campus regularly this semester to assist the University in responding to verified mold reports.
Q. Is Wake Forest experiencing more issues with mold than in past years?
A. Recent incidences of mold indoors have been influenced by outdoor conditions, to some degree. This region of the state has experienced extraordinary rainfall this year and that is likely a factor in increased mold reports.
Q. Has Wake Forest taken a look at how other schools address mold?
A. Yes. Wake Forest has been in contact with several universities and learned that our procedures are similar to theirs or, at times, exceed theirs.
Q. What happens when a student reports mold?
A. Staff members trained to identify and assess mold quickly and promptly check the area in question. If mold is found, the mold management plan is activated by Facilities and Campus Services immediately to promptly remove the mold, determine its potential source (generally moisture in the immediate area) and apply an inhibitor.
Q. Has the University informed students about how to report mold?
A. Yes. For instance, Residence Life and Housing sent an email to students in Bostwick and Johnson Halls informing them of reports of mold and advising them to contact the office immediately if they have reason to believe they have found mold. The message also included tips on reducing the likelihood of mold growth in their living areas. They may email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Q. Is mold an allergen?
A. Mold produces allergens, but like any other allergen, exposed individuals will respond differently. Some may have no reaction, others may experience hay fever-type symptoms, while others may experience more significant symptoms.
Q. Are there government regulations governing how the University must treat mold?
A. Mold is not regulated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) or the EPA. Mold is a natural byproduct of various conditions, often occurring in warm and moist environments where there is abundant vegetation such as trees, landscaping plants and ground coverings. According to the EPA, mold cannot be totally eliminated in the environment unless extreme measures are taken constantly, as would be the case in a “clean room” laboratory.
Q. What might contribute to indoor mold growth, such as that found in some locations on campus?
A. Indoor sources for mold may be leaking pipes, standing water, damp clothing or towels and condensation in the area. The University is equally concerned about finding the source of the mold as it is in cleaning the mold. If mold can be prevented by taking certain steps, the University does so.
Q. What are some recommendations the University has made to students to reduce the likelihood of mold growth in their living area?
A. Some recommendations have included:
Do not open windows while heating or cooling units are operating. This causes condensation and may contribute to mold growth.
Do not leave wet or damp clothes, towels or shoes in closets. Set them out on a drying rack until completely dry.
Do not place potted plants or any other source of moisture on or around heating and cooling units.
Q. As winter approaches, is it possible that mold growth indoors will diminish?
A. Potentially, although it remains important that the University and those on campus be alert to mold and report it if seen indoors. Those in residence halls are encouraged to email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. All others should contact Facilities and Campus services at firstname.lastname@example.org or (336) 758-4255.