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Students grapple with mold scare in three dorm buildings

The mold above the shower in Piedmont Central. Photo submitted by Dylan Bagwell.

UPDATE

Friday Sept. 27, 4:00 p.m.

Leah Chambers, a freshman at Georgia State, shared footage from Piedmont North, room 168A which shows what she described as their entire ceiling falling in their bathroom because of a shower leak.

“The Housing people were trying their hardest not to move us despite our multiple complaints so we had to send our parents and grandparents to the school to complain then we finally moved rooms,” Chambers said. “We didn’t receive any compensation for our problems. This is disgusting and not how I wanted to start my freshman year.”

Bailey Santwire, who previously reported their mold incident, said that Georgia State housing came to his dorm to address the issue since the article’s publication.

“They said it is bacteria rather than mold forming on the ceiling due to the moisture built on the ceiling,” Santwire said. 

Santwire said he was told anti-fungal spray had already been used during the initial treatment but he had not been told this until today.

“I told the housing director that the issue had reappeared despite them painting over the bacterial colonies,” he said. “They understood that the appearance of the bacterial colonies on the ceiling can look similar to mold.”

 

 

UPDATE

Thursday Sept. 26, 1:45 p.m.

About 60 residents across 24 rooms have been moved by Georgia State housing because of mold in their dorms. 

Shannon Corey, the interim director of housing, said that university leadership met on multiple occasions since receiving the first reports of mold in a few rooms. The last leadership meeting was on Friday, Sept. 13.

“Actions by the university included prior cleaning of rooms and air conditioning units, replacement of aging units in the summer months, visual inspections and sample testing,” Corey said.

She said that they’ve kept communication with students to report progress and sent an email to students in Piedmont North on Aug. 29, sharing information about the reports and the steps the university and residents could take. 

“Because of increased rain and higher than usual temperatures this summer, our region has seen increased humidity levels outside, which increased humidity levels inside our buildings,” the email from University Housing reads. “Over the past few days, we have received a few reports about mold developing in residential rooms. University Housing is working to address those concerns and is working to mitigate other possible mold concerns.”

The email addressed what University Housing was doing to address the issue, beginning with inspections of each residence hall room in Piedmont North buildings A and B.

Students were directed to submit maintenance requests for any signs of mold with other advice including regularly washing sheets and towels and keeping the air conditioning set at 72 degrees.

The email informed students that the mold that has been reported is not toxic and “is commonplace mold that can be found all around us.”

“Exposure to mold can cause allergy-like symptoms, such as coughing, nasal stuffiness and eye or skin irritation,” the email includes. “Some individuals may not feel the effects of mold at all, while others with asthma, allergies or compromised immune systems may have a more severe reaction.”

Students are also directed to the Student Health Clinic for any health concerns.

“The safety, health and well-being of our residents is a matter of utmost concern for University Housing,” the email reads

 

UPDATE

Thursday, Sept. 26 at 10:45 a.m.

Andrea Jones, associate vice president for public relations at Georgia State, said that the university leadership has been regularly meeting to take action on this issue.

“Out of an abundance of caution, we have moved some residents while we conduct a deep cleaning of their rooms,” Jones said. “A reminder, this is regular household mold.”

After the publication of the original story, Jade Christman reported that housing staff came and removed the ceiling and noted a leaky pipe that would be fixed.

During this, her roommate began coughing up blood, according to Christman.

Another student came forward with an account of mold in their dorm, Bailey Santwire, who lives in University Commons Building A, on the second floor.

He said that he did not take photos or document the mold before what he calls the “initial treatment” but he decided to take pictures as it redeveloped afterwards.

This initial treatment? He said the staff came to paint over it after his maintenance request was submitted. 

“Every time they come to repair the issue, they paint over it,” Santwire said. “I only notice when I take a shower, the condensation on the ceiling will turn pink and the next day, there is mold on the ceiling.”

Santwire said he does have an allergy to mold but it is mild, so his symptoms have not been extreme. He said he has experienced coughing and a dry, itchy throat.

 

BREAKING NEWS 

Wednesday Sept. 25, 4:30 p.m.

Would you want to pay $6,000 to $10,000 per school year for a dorm with mold in it?

Last Friday, Dylan Bagwell was moved out of room number 175 in Piedmont North Building B because of mold in the bathroom. Now, he’s in Piedmont Central, but his problem didn’t go away.

“My old dorm didn’t have mold that was as bad as my new one,” Bagwell said.

He said he’s waiting in this new dorm — where there’s mold in the shower room as well — while the university cleans his first room. He said he hasn’t reported the mold in the new room to the resident assistant yet because he’s been too busy managing classes and the abrupt room transition.

“This mold problem has been affecting me since the beginning of the school year and the process of moving dorms has created a lot of stress and inconvenience,” Bagwell said.

He didn’t experience any health symptoms in his first dorm, but after moving into his second one, he said he’s begun to experience sneezing and itchiness around his eyes.

But the problem doesn’t appear to be exclusive to Piedmont North or Piedmont Central. Jade Christman lives in Commons Building A on the 13th floor and has mold that she said has been there since she moved in.

Christman said she sent in a maintenance request, and when Georgia State staff came in to examine it, they told her roommate they would have to remove the ceiling of the closet. They recommended that she keep the door closed in the meantime.

A week prior, Christman said she developed a sore throat. During the inspection, Christman thinks they left the door open for some time, and that day her and her roommate began experiencing bad coughing. Christman said she experienced red, watery eyes. Today, she describes having a “foggy head cold and a runny nose.”

“I’m kind of upset, which might be an understatement … given that I’ve been living with it for almost a month now,” Christman said. “They handle issues post-move in, which is ridiculous, especially for kids who have to fully move out.”

People sensitive to mold can experience sneezing, runny noses and red eyes by inhaling it, according to WebMD. Someone with a serious mold allergy or asthma may experience a more severe reaction or even shortness of breath.

Dr. Harry Heiman, a clinical associate professor in the School of Public Health, said the health impacts vary based on an individual’s sensitivity to mold. Some may experience no symptoms, while others may experience life-threatening effects.

“It depends on the person and their susceptibility,” Heiman said. “Mold is often a reflection of problems with moisture … so it can sometimes coexist with mildew and other things, which similarly can be a problem or not.”

In August, Georgia Southern’s student newspaper, The George-Anne, reported that an entire dorm building was closed due to mold, causing a scramble to find additional housing for freshmen.

This isn’t the first time Georgia State has experienced a mold scare. In 2015, The Signal reported on student complaints that were also covered by WSB-TV. And just last year, mold in Piedmont North was a fear for some students as well, The Signal reported.

 

Editor’s Note: Continue to follow this page for any updated comments or developments.