Mold in dorms: What should colleges do to protect students

It’s every college’s worst nightmare: mold.

Dorm students have been reporting mold problems at the University of Maryland since early September, reports the Baltimore Sun. By the end of the month, the university's facilities staff had found the problem so severe they began moving students into nearby hotels.

In an email sent on September 19, staff had encouraged students to report mold incidents. A few days later, the university sent out another email telling students the problem would need more thorough treatment, reports Baltimore Sun.

The newspaper details how Maryland is taking care of this issue. They’ve hired mold specialists and are working to install dehumidifiers as well as inspect and clean rooms where service for mold was requested.


However, students are now raising health concerns they claim the mold might have caused. For example, a recent report by Fox News highlights the death of Maryland student Olivia Paregol.

According to the report, Olivia suffered from Crohn’s disease and a weak immune system. Then, the freshman contracted the same strain of Adenovirus that recently killed 11 children in New Jersey.

While Olivia’s father admits officials haven’t proven the mold as a cause, he points out that it didn’t help either.

According to the report, the university is assuring students they are taking measures to treat the mold problem.

What to Do about Mold at College

While Maryland’s situation has raised some hype, it’s not the first college to deal with mold problems. Still, the situation does bring up the question: what should colleges do about mold and its prevention?

There’s no doubt mold can harm students’ health. According to the CDC, mold can affect people in various ways. Some will simply get stuffy noses or itchy, watery eyes.

Others with respiratory problems like asthma might have worse reactions. In some cases, repeated mold exposure can even lead to asthma.

Colleges and students should treat mold as a serious problem.

Susan Brinchman, who founded the Center for School Mold Help, told Health magazine that students should treat the building like it’s on fire. They need to get out as soon as they can.


The CDC outlines several measures anyone can take in preventing mold. First, any known mold problems should be treated immediately, preventing the problem from spreading.

Colleges can also:

?       Keep air conditioners in good working condition.

?       Use dehumidifiers in dorms.

?       Make sure the rooms are ventilating properly (bathroom vents, etc.).

?       Address water problems in the dorm, such as soaked carpets.

In addition to these measures, colleges should consider performing routine mold inspections. This way staff can take care of problems before they become as big a situation as Maryland’s.

Colleges can also educate students about mold and its ideal conditions. Students will then understand their responsibility to report mold situations as well as abnormal amounts of moisture in the room.

In a college dorm situation, the only real way to prevent a mold problem is by working together.