Mold and Moisture Problems for College Students
Most people are aware that living with factors such as mold, and dust mites is quite harmful. Eventually, poor indoor air quality can lead to a variety of health issues including asthma and allergies. Despite these issues with mold and dampness being more well known, moisture problems seem to be becoming more and more common across college campuses.
In November of 2016, students at Duke University noticed symptoms of mold in some dorms and apartments located on campus. In response, Duke had the areas tested for mold by an environmental firm. Some of the tests did come back showing signs of mold so the university had to address the mold issues by cleaning the air handling units.
Other examples of mold in college campuses can be found across the country. For instance, similar to Duke, Northwestern University reported mold in the student dormitories and many students had to be relocated. Symptoms of mold were also seen in an older building at the University of Kansas. The source of the mold turned out be an outdated air conditioning system.
Sometimes, the presence of mold can lead to odd living arrangements. At St. Mary’s College of Maryland, mold was detected in two of the dormitories. Officials for the schools discovered that mold was spreading in the insulation around air conditioning vents, which led to the evacuation of 350 students. Initially all of the students were moved to hotels during the clean up process, however, commuting to classes was challenging for the students accustomed to living on campus. Consequently, the school brought in a cruise ship, the Sea Voyager. The Sea Voyager docked at the St. Mary’s pier and became the temporary home for 240 of the displaced students.
Are College Students More at Risk?
All of these instances of mold lead to the question of why does mold seem to be so frequent in and around college campuses. A 2015 research study in Canada examined this Sea Voyager Cruise Ship Docked at matter more closely. The purpose of the study was to find out how common moisture issues are for university students and what housing factors contribute to this.
It was hypothesized that college students are at a higher risk for mold issues. The first reason being that college students generally don’t have a lot of money and thus, may be living in lower income housing. Cheaper housing often means older buildings that are not as well maintained, both of which can contribute to moisture issues.
Another reason housing designed for college students may be more likely have to mold problems is the frequent turnover. Tenants may change every few months compared to traditional housing that could be years at a time. Again, this could lead to a lack of maintenance by landlords who don’t feel as obligated to maintain the apartments, in addition to carelessness by the tenants who know they won’t be staying for long.
The study took place at Université de Sherbrooke located in Quebec, Canada. All of the 26,676 students were invited to participate via their campus email addresses. 3,029 students provided a response, and it was determined that 2,097 students were eligible to participate.