East Wheelock mold exposure prompts students to relocate as college begins short-term remediation efforts

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The students reported effects on their health, prompting some to move to the Boss Tennis Center or to hotels in Hanover.

by Adriana James-Rodil | 30 minutes ago

The presence of mold – first identified in Andres Hall on September 29 and later confirmed in other rooms in the Andres and Zimmerman rooms on October 7 – has caused health problems for students living in the East Wheelock residential group and prompted some of them to move to off-campus spaces. The college is taking corrective action to combat mold growth, he said in an email to campus on Friday.

The mold species identified are mainly Penicillium and Cladosporium, corn Acrodont, Aspergillus and Ulocladium were also found, according to the email sent to campus. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Remark that “exposure to molds can lead to symptoms such as a stuffy nose, wheezing, red or itchy eyes or skin” and that people with allergies or asthma “may have more severe reactions”.

Ethan Dixon ’24, who lived in Andres Hall 205 – where active mold growth was first discovered – at the start of the fall term, said he spotted black mold on his bedroom wall when he first moved to Andres, which he later reported. to college. Even after the college sent staff to clean the room, Dixon said he still woke up several mornings with a sore throat, prompting him to research the side effects of mold exposure. – which he suffered for a lot.

Dixon contacted the College again and was then sent to the Sixth South Street Hotel in late September for a weekend so his room could be tested. The College initially concluded there was no mold in the suite, so Dixon returned, but said he was sent back to Sixth South Street a week later after an independent investigator “audited” the investigation and found traces of mold in his room. after all.

According to an email statement from College spokesperson Diana Lawrence, following an initial inspection that did not identify any mold, the College called in an industrial hygienist from Woodard & Curran, a consulting firm. in environment, to perform a more detailed inspection to ensure that mold was not present. On September 29, the presence of mold was confirmed by laboratory analyzes.

The College first informed residents of Andres and Zimmerman of the active mold growth in Andres Hall on October 1. After conducting subsequent inspections of some suites in Andres and Zimmerman on October 5 and 6, the College confirmed the presence of mold in other rooms in Andres and Zimmerman on October 7, Lawrence wrote. Associate Vice President of Operations and Facilities Management Frank Roberts informed residents of Andres and Zimmerman on October 8 that mold growth had been identified in all 17 samples tested. The College found mold in the HVAC system, on a ceiling and on the caulk around a sink, in addition to finding mold in private bathrooms.

Students susceptible to mold were able to move into the Boss Tennis Center temporarily over the weekend, starting Friday afternoon. Hotel rooms were also made available on Sunday evenings to stay in place until the end of the week.

Isabella Hochschild ’25, who lived in Zimmerman Hall before moving to the Hanover Inn last weekend, said she sent a photo of her bedroom’s moldy ceiling to the College during her investigation. She said she saw mold in air conditioners, bathrooms and shower curtains, adding that her health had been affected by the mold.

“I coughed and was super congested,” Hochschild said. “I had tears in my eyes and I didn’t know why. I thought I was allergic to something, and now it makes sense that it was mold.

In his October 8 email, Roberts described the “immediate mold removal steps,” which include vacuuming the interior surfaces of every HVAC unit in Andres and Zimmerman with a high-efficiency particulate vacuum, the installation of additional filtration and aspiration of each suite with a HEPA vacuum. . Roberts wrote that the college will work with its consultants to develop further remediation plans for mold growth before the winter term begins in January.

According to Lawrence, the College is still investigating the cause of the mold problem in the HVAC units at Andres and Zimmerman Halls.

Roberts noted that students who feel comfortable living in Andres and Zimmerman can stay there while the college cleans up the CVC and completes its remediation efforts – which began on Tuesday and are expected to take eight to ten working days.

On Sunday evening, the college held a community gathering at Brace Commons to answer questions from students. Hochschild said she learned at the meeting that the College will be rehabilitating the rooms starting on Andres and Zimmerman’s top floor and working your way down to the first floor, where his room is located. She added that she was only allowed to live in the Hanover Inn for five days and that mold in all rooms would be removed by the end of the week, but she has not yet been contacted by the team of operations and management of the installations concerning the sanitation of his room.

Dixon, who now lives at Hitchcock Hall, said he was unsure if he would be able to reinstate Andres this term.

“No one in the housing offices [is] currently responding to me to find out when I can be back in Andres, ”Dixon said. “I called them twice. I emailed them, and every time I call them they ask for my number and [say] we will call you back today, so I am very annoyed.

Hochschild said she knew a few people in her dorm with health issues who moved. Marc Novicoff ’22, who lived at Zimmerman Hall, also moved to the Hanover Inn this week, although he added that he was unsure if his symptoms were related to mold growth.

“Like most people on campus, I caught a cold at one point,” Novicoff said. “I really have no idea if mold played a role in this or if mold makes people sick, so I don’t really know if I’ve been affected or not. I guess there was that added benefit of getting [to be] at the hostel for a few days.

Novicoff said the discovery of mold at Andres and Zimmerman raises the question of whether the mold could impact other residential spaces on campus.

“As a resident of East Wheelock, I think I own some of the nicer dorms on campus because they’re newer,” Novicoff said. “What is the condition of the accommodation [in] the rest of the campus if East Wheelock has mold?

According to the College’s Mold Remediation FAQ page, the HVAC units in Andres and Zimmerman Halls differ in both “age and design” from other HVAC systems on campus. In addition, most dormitories use windows for air circulation. The webpage says college staff “are planning an additional level of inspection at our other residential buildings over the next few weeks” and “are expanding our current mold protocols to include regular checks of air handling units in all. the buildings of Dartmouth ”.

Anyone who suspects mold is present in their dormitory should contact Residential Operations so the College can arrange for an inspection, the page says.

Despite the college’s remediation plans, Novicoff said he was disappointed to discover mold in his dorm in the first place.

“I am insulted by the existence of mold in my living spaces and also in the air vents,” he said. “It’s a problem that they should [have been] in the know, because it’s supposed to be in every room, so I guess that bothers me. “



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