Facilities, housing manage mold, mildew outbreak

Alyse Young and Tommy Sullivan

This summer’s high humidity, paired with some facilities’ lack of use, has contributed to a small outbreak of mold in WKU’s buildings.

“We come across it from time to time,” said Brian Kuster, the director of Housing and Residence Life.

Helm Library, Tate Page Hall’s third-floor storage area, Cherry Hall and Jones-Jaggers Hall faced mold growth this summer.

Three rooms in Jones-Jaggers had to be cleaned out because mold had grown while they were closed for the summer term. The rooms have since been reopened.

Any staff member acutely affected by the mold has been relocated to other facilities, according to Bryan Russell, the chief facilities officer.

Two weeks ago, HRL joined with the department of Environmental Health and Safety to test Pearce-Ford Tower’s rooms for mold and mildew. They found mold and mildew in the HVAC units, Kuster said.

“There was no widespread issue,” Kuster said.

HRL opened the affected units to clean them and replaced their filters.

“The right formula for the mold growth is in the summer,” Russell said.

Russell said all of the reported mold has been cleaned.

The EHS department performed systematic mold checks throughout campus this summer.

Russell said mold and mildew largely affects the campus’s older buildings that are closed during the summer term.

“We have been very active to try and reduce the issue on campus,” Russell said.

Facilities will continue to focus on preventing future mold growth in WKU’s buildings.

“We’ll be doing some proactive things,” Russell said.

EHS has hired an engineering firm to assess the situation. Russell hopes this will give WKU a roadmap to dehumidify buildings, which will ultimately decrease mold growth.

“The best defense for this is a good offense,” he said.

He added that mold and mildew become problems when they go unreported.

“If you see or smell or notice water, tell the building coordinator and facilities management,” Russell said.

Kuster recommends students tell their resident assistants or other housing staff about any mold-related issues. Students can also report mold-related issues through Insight on TopNet.

To prevent mold growth, Kuster suggests students wipe off any moisture on windowsills and heating and cooling units and avoid putting dryer sheets in heating and cooling units.

“Just like in your bathroom at home, if you see something, you clean it,” Kuster said.