Mold in Ford Hall is unacceptable, K-State must take action

After 13 students put in work orders regarding mold in their rooms, every room in Ford Hall will be inspected over the course of the next few days.

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Caroline Gambill, Ford Hall resident and freshman in biology, said the inspections began around 10 a.m. Thursday morning, starting on the ninth floor of the building.

Gambill, who didn’t find mold in her room, said “there was some in a lot of other rooms.”

Sarah Harper, Ford Hall resident and sophomore in public relations, said she often had a sore throat in her dorm room, but not while she was out and about on campus during the day. She said her suite-mate suggested that they lift the ceiling tiles in her room and when they did, Harper said they saw dark spots on the pipe that was directly over her bed.

An email sent to Ford Hall residents on Wednesday said Housing and Dining Services would begin conducting inspections due to “rumors of mold in rooms.”

“At this point, we’ve received work orders from 13 rooms asking us to look into the issue, and our staff is addressing those work orders as they’re received,” the email read.

The email said the inspections would focus on a number of areas of the rooms, including the air conditioning units and the pipes. Residents will be notified when the inspections are completed in their rooms.

“If any mold is found, it will be addressed as per guidelines from the Environmental Protection Agency, the State of Kansas and K-State Environmental Health and Safety,” the email read. “Depending on the nature of the mold, whether old and inactive or new growth, treatment may include cleaning the affected area, repairing any pipe insulation that is damaged, and/or painting the area with mold-resistant paint.”

According to the email, the mold found thus far has been “inactive and not currently growing in all cases.”

On the morning of Oct. 8, community coordinator for Ford Hall Holly Gerke sent out an email to the residents that denied the presence of mold in the building.

“I wanted to send out an email informing you that there is not mold in Ford,” the email read. “If [your] space smells or seems grimy it is important that you are cleaning on a regular basis.”

The email went on to list a number of ways to keep the dorm rooms clean, which included “laundering your shower curtain once a month” and taking out the trash and recycling bins in the room “regularly.”

Derek Jackson, associate vice president for the Department of Housing and Dining, said since Oct. 8, there have been reports of mold in four rooms. This statement made via email contradicts the email sent to residents on Wednesday.

The mold is cleaned with a product similar to Tilex, which can be bought at a retail store. Once mold is removed, a mold resistant paint is applied to the pipe insulation to “retard future mold from growing.”

EPA guidelines do not require residents in rooms where mold is present to move. Jackson compared it to cleaning bathroom mold in any house, Jackson said. Additionally, he said the cleanup takes very little time and he expects all rooms to be inspected in the next few days.

Jackson said mold is present in the air at all times in the Midwest, and if there is excess moisture it will begin to grow. Reporting of mold in any dorm is common, he said.

This piece originally ran in The Collegian on Nov. 7, 2018.