Mold moves into UCO dorms

Friday, September 26th 2008, 11:48 pm
By: News 9

By Colleen Chen, NEWS 9

EDMOND, Okla. -- Students are complaining about mold found in the dorms on the University of Central Oklahoma campus.

Murdaugh Hall is where many students work, study, and play. The building is about 72-years-old, and some students said it's time for some problems in the dorm to be fixed.

Dorm life is not expected to be luxury, but UCO student Jesse Way said it should be better than what is in Murdaugh Hall. His wall came apart earlier this month.

"I just want to get everything fixed up, just better than this," Way said. "I don't want my walls falling down or mold growing over my bed."

Way has since been moved from his dilapidating room, but mold is still a concern for other students. UCO student Jonathan Leclair's problems began in room 208 when he found what he thought was mold.

"I've never had medical issues at all whatsoever until I moved into Murdaugh in room 208," Leclair said.

University Relations said they took the issue seriously, which is why they took air quality tests.

"The air quality tests came back normal," UCO spokesman Charlie Johnson said.

Leclair's complaints got him on the front page of the UCO campus newspaper and in a new room. Unfortunately, in the new room the mold problem persisted to the point of having to tie a towel around pipes to contain the moisture.

"It's so wet that the insulation is decaying," Leclair said.

His isn't the only room where problems were suspected. Other students came forward, handing over samples of their ceiling tiles to NEWS 9.

NEWS 9 sent Quantum Labs samples from room 217, 233 and 235. The results came back positive, abundant for several different types of mold, two of which can release mycotoxins.

"The stachybotrys and aspergillus, those are the ones that cause most allergic reactions," said Michael Jenkinson who works for Crystal Creek Environmental Solutions.

Jenkinson said the air quality tests the University performed don't say a lot. He said the tests aren't very effective against stachybotrys because it isn't easily airborne.

"You could take a sample and have stacchy visible and still not get into the air," Jenkinson said.

But Jenkinson said that doesn't mean it's safe. One bump can send out mycotoxins, which is why the problem needs to be taken care of.

"If you see it, remove it and find source of why the molds there," Jenkinson said.

The source for the type of molds found is water, most likely from the pipes condensating onto the ceiling tiles. While maintenance has replaced a number of tiles, Jenkinson said it is not a fix and moldy areas need attention.

"It doesn't matter if it's not much, if there's water there it's probably just starting, so if the water source continues, it will just get bigger," Jenkinson said.

A University official said they don't wait for complaints to check rooms.

"Once a month, our housing department inspects all rooms on campus for safety matters." Johnson said.

When NEWS 9 went back to room 217 and 233, wet pipes and mold spots remained. No one was home in room 235. Experts said the only solution is properly insulating the pipes.

"You're not gonna have stacchy if you don't have water present," Jenkinson said.

University officials said student safety is their highest priority. There are currently no long term renovation plans for the dorm, but officials said they will do everything they can in the short term.

Because everyone reacts differently to mold, there are currently no federal health standards for mold removal.