Mold discovered in Chancellors

Story by Frank F. Pellegrino

Multiple cases of mold growth have been discovered in Chancellors Hall over the last two months, according to Peter Rejto, assistant director for budget and physical plant operations.

The first wave was discovered at the end of July, and four more cases were reported just last week, Rejto said. He thinks a combination of things contributed to the issue, including abnormally large amounts of rainfall.

“There was kind of the perfect storm really,” Rejto said. “It was the weather trends that we had with very high humidity, combined with the nature of the heating and ventilating system that we have.”

Rejto was referring to the HVAC air conditioning system used in Chancellors Hall, which he said doesn’t efficiently remove humidity from the air. The high moisture content in the air combined with the cooling system and brought the air inside the building to the dew point, he said.

He compared this to what happens when you go outside in the morning and the ground is wet but it hasn’t rained.

“It essentially means that the water comes out of the atmosphere and adheres to whatever is around,” Rejto said.

He pointed out that since no other residence halls have air conditioning systems, they are not in danger of mold growth.

The first cases this summer were more severe and had already been dealt with before the year began, Rejto said. Some patches were around 12 inches in diameter and were in several locations around the carpet, he said. In those severe cases the carpets were replaced.

He thought the cases from last week had spots ranging from about half a human foot, to only an inch or two in diameter.

Senior Emma Grosse, a resident in Chancellors Hall, first heard about the mold in an e-mail from Rejto that was sent out on Aug. 11. She said she didn’t really know if she needed to be concerned.

“I didn’t really know because it didn’t really say if it was only in certain areas, or going to be on my floor or my room,” she said. “I guess I was kind of concerned though, just by the fact that we had mold in the building.”

Rejto said it is unclear about the health implications of being around mold, but that the university is using the Wisconsin Department of Health Resources stance on the topic.

Indoor mold only poses a threat to people who are sensitive to mold in the first place, according to the DHS website.

Chancellors Hall Director Jerron Parker declined requests for comment.

After the mold was discovered, the university took several precautions to prevent something like this from happening in the future, Rejto said. There were also suggestions sent out to all the residents on how they could help in prevention, he added.

“I think I am cautiously optimistic that all the steps that we’ve taken, as well as the residents, that we’ve been able to solve the problem for the remainder of the year,” Rejto said.

With any type of housing issue residents might encounter, Rejto said the most important thing is notifying the right people.

“We pride ourselves in responding to concerns or problems – things that are broken or not working properly – within 24 hours,” he said. “We have a pretty good track record going over many years.”