'Common' Mold Discovered in Two Duke Residence Halls

Source:, August 31, 2006
A Duke official said the mold does not present any serious health risks to students
Duke University officials have discovered a common form of mold in two residence halls on West Campus and will begin treating it next week.
A Duke official said the mold does not present any serious health risks to students.
“These molds are considered allergens and could cause allergic reactions in some people,” said Eddie Hull, dean of residence life and executive director of housing services. “But the ‘black mold’ that we hear about as a real problem is not present.”
Hull sent an email this week to students in Mitchell and Decker towers, in the Edens Quadrangle, informing them that a common form of mold had been found in a number of locations, including some student rooms, common areas and a mechanical room where air handlers push cool air to rooms.
Hull said Duke’s Occupational and Environmental Safety Office (OESO) was contacted immediately, and OESO inspectors collected air and surface samples inside and outside the two buildings. The test results determined that the mold inside the buildings “is well within generally accepted standards of care,” Hull’s email noted.
“The standard is a presence of mold inside a building will not exceed 50 percent of the presence of the same mold outside the building. In our case, the ratio is less than 20 percent and, in many cases, much less than that,” Hull’s note said.
“The bottom line is that we do not have a serious problem. While this is good news, we don’t want the mold situation to persist either, and are taking positive, proactive measures to eradicate it.”
These steps, which will begin next week, include:
— treating all rooms and common areas in the two buildings, including student rooms;
— inspecting and treating air handlers;
— retesting after this work is completed.
Students will not be displaced from their rooms. “If any additional work is needed, we will do it,” Hull said in his note.
As an additional precaution, Duke officials are testing the other buildings in Edens Quadrangle, even though there is no indication of mold there.
OESO¬†director Wayne Thomann¬†said the air sampling findings “do not indicate a significant or unique exposure condition to the students.” He added that OESO began working immediately with Duke housing officials “to characterize the conditions and to develop a rapid response plan to address this issue.”
Hull noted there are several types of mold, all common in this area, that tend to grow on cool, moist, painted surfaces. He wrote to the students living in the two residence halls he is sorry they will be inconvenienced, but officials wanted to address the situation immediately and “head-on.”

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