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The Northerner

Student claims dorm mold caused illnesses

Jennifer Corbett and Jennifer Corbett

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Coming into her freshman year, Erica Cone never expected she would end up with a handful of health problems.

Cone, a business administration major, moved into the Kentucky Hall Laurel Wing room 111 in August and moved out in late October 2006. According to Cone, she noticed a “weird smell” in her room on move-in day. Not knowing what it was, she decided to try and live with it.

Cone said her room was different than most because it was next to the showers, so she had an air duct on one side of her room.

“It kind of smelled like a locked-up house,” Cone said. “So I just figured we needed to open the windows to let it out.”

Cone said she and her roommate found mold in the air vents and ceiling tiles of the room.

“I would have to say that (the mold) did not grow quickly until we tried to have it killed,” Cone said.

According to Cone, she and her roommate filed a maintenance request. Maintenance responded soon after, leaving an air purifier in their room to get rid of the smell. The apparent mold didn’t ruin anything; however, Cone said it was annoying to wake up everyday to a damp room.

“All my clothes and sheets were always damp,” Cone said. “I thought it was just the shower next door, though.”

Environmental Safety Coordinator Jeff Baker said he knew nothing of a mold problem in the Kentucky Hall Laurel Wing, but did receive a call from another location around the same time that turned out negative.

“I am only aware of a handful of mold complaints that have been reported to this office,” Baker said. “Of which, most were false calls and the others were minor problems that were corrected that day.”

Commonwealth and Kentucky halls Director Bethany Kilgore verified Cone moved out of room, but couldn’t remember if it was because of mold.

“I know she moved out because of allergies,” Kilgore said. “I don’t know if it was because of mold related. The concern was that her room was next to the bathroom.”

Cone said maintenance came back three or more times. She said the first time they took the tiles off the ceiling and opened up the vents and there was nothing but black mold. According to Cone, they then tried to use bleach to kill it.

“I believe when they did this that the mold spores opened and went airborne,” Cone said. “Cause that was when I got really sick.”

Cone said her health problems included fluid in her lungs, damaged cartilage in her ribs, bruised diaphragm, pulled muscles around her ribs, sore throat from coughing and an ear infection.

According to Cone, instead of going back to maintenance she went to housing and they moved her out of that room in four days.

“It took three months for me to recover from all the damage to my ribs from coughing,” Cone said. “I do, however, still have a hard time breathing. I’ve noticed this during times when I’m working out, giving presentations or walking. This never occurred before.”

Baker said mold can affect people in different ways. “Some can have allergic reactions, others have respiratory problems. It depends on the person and the type of mold.”

“Most household cleaners will get rid of mold. The best thing to do is prevention. Simple things such as drying out the shower when you get out, cleaning up spills and drips and immediately reporting water leaks, will help prevent mold from growing,” Baker said.

Cone’s old room has now been made into a showroom.

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The Independent Student Newspaper of Northern Kentucky University.
Student claims dorm mold caused illnesses