Complaints of mold prompt winter break clean-up plans, OU officials say

NORMAN, Okla. -- Campus officials say they will be cleaning residential buildings during winter break after complaints of mold during the fall semester.

In September, the University of Oklahoma said they received many concerns of mold and mildew, particularly in three residential halls: Couch, Walker, and Adams. Majority of the issues they found were reportedly linked to the air handling units and filters. In October, Facilities Management began cleaning air units and bathroom air vents in every room.

On Friday, the university released an updated statement which read, in part:
"Facilities Management will be cleaning two floors each day of winter break and expect all cleanings to be completed by mid to late January."

"The OU Environmental Health and Safety Office brought in an independent lab to do air quality tests in all of our tower residence halls. That testing has shown that the air quality in the buildings and in rooms does contain some mold, however it is the same mold we are finding outdoors due to the weather and time of year and the mold counts within the tower residence halls are lower than the mold counts naturally occurring outdoors," according to the statement.

Nick Hazelrigg, a junior at OU, said several students have brought their concerns to the student-run publication, OU Daily with claims of illnesses linked to mold.

OU Daily reporter Kaylie Cotten purchased a Mold Armor Test Kit to test the air quality inside the Walker Center independently.

"Then we sent it into a lab," Hazelrigg said. "What they found is that there were four different types of mold in there that could cause different respiratory and pulmonary issues."

According to the OU Daily investigation, the mold species revealed were: Aspergillus, Penicillium, Rhizomucor and Exserohilum.

Megan Clark, a freshman at OU, lives in the Couch building. She said her roommate first noticed the possible mold in their vent in mid October.

"She was like, 'do you see that in there?' And I was like, yeah, I do. It’s like this green, kind of like brownish strip," Clark recalled. "At first I was like kind of freaked out about it, because I didn’t know what it was like if it was going to harm me."

Clark said the issue was resolved within a week after it was reported.

Madi Snyder lives in the Adam Center and said she and her roommate also had to report findings of mold.

"My roommate saw it. It was like kind of black, just in our AC unit and she texted me and said I think this is black mold," Snyder said. "I contacted maintenance and he came in and said it was definitely black mold. I didn’t really get a good look at it, but my roommate said it just kind of looked like black in our AC unit."

In a letter issued Friday, David Annis, Director of Housing and Food Services at OU, said they encourage students to continue to turn in maintenance requests for any concerns and issues that they have.

To read the full statement, click here.

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