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There’s a Fungus Among Us…

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Following a summer outbreak of mold in academic and residential buildings, staff members in Facilities Management confirm that the issue has been contained and that no major renovations or relocations will be necessary.

On August 6, an email from Vice President and Dean of Student Life Joyce Bylander informed students that mold had been found on campus over the summer. At the beginning of the semester, Kristen Kostecky, associate vice president for Facilities Management, and Ashley Zink, director of Compliance and Enterprise Risk Management, reported that “all mold identified over the summer in residence halls has been addressed so relocation is not necessary.”

Kostecky said housekeepers and administrative personnel found the mold over the summer.

“As soon as we became aware of the issue, we got to work resolving it, so the problem could be addressed before the academic year began,” Kostecky said.

The mold was found in a number of campus buildings: residence halls, administrative buildings, and academic buildings. The outbreaks were not extensive, however, and most of the mold areas were “smaller than the size of a salad plate.”

The cleanup was handled by both Dickinson staff and independent health professionals. Housekeeping has cleaned the small surface area outbreaks while firms that specialize in mold removal addressed larger outbreaks. Methods for eliminating mold range from simple bleach cleaning to replacing affected areas of drywall.

Kostecky said that  the cleanup costs were covered by the Facilities Management budget.

The particular type of mold was not disclosed, but Zink said that “mold can cause symptoms for those sensitive to it and these are generally mild, such as itchy eyes, scratchy throat, stuffy nose.” This is why Facilities was determined to address the problem before students returned.

Maddie Chandler ’16 was living in the Factory apartments this summer while working on campus. She said that she experienced cold-like symptoms, such as a sore throat and itchy eyes, and found black mold in her apartment’s bathroom and air conditioning unit. Chandler said that her symptoms improved, but did not fully disappear, after a maintenance crew cleaned her air conditioner.

“It was only when I moved out of Factory and went on vacation with my family that I felt better,” Chandler said.

Kostecky and Zink report that the mold likely appeared this summer due to a number of factors. Over the summer, when air conditioner units were shut off in unoccupied spaces, decreased air circulation and increased humidity could have led to growing mold spores.  Kostecky and Zink said that this summer was particularly humid and rainy in Carlisle, They assure that the building structures are sound and that “no significant renovations will be required.”

To combat the growth of new mold, Kostecky and Zink urge students to keep their spaces as dry as possible. They advise students to avoid leaving wet things on the floor and to turn air conditioners on during humid weather, though setting the temperature very low can sometimes cause condensation.

According to Dean Bylander’s report, students are asked to report suspected mold to Facilities as soon as possible. Students should call Facilities Management at 717-245-1212 or submit a work order.

“Mold is not an uncommon issue in historical buildings and many colleges face intermittent mold issues,” Kostecky and Zink added. Dickinson has had mold problems before, and likely will again due to the moist, humid climate of the area.

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There’s a Fungus Among Us…