Virginia Commonwealth University joins a list of other colleges which have been forced to close a dorm or building for mold remediation over the years. Johnson Hall has been closed as of November 23rd, 2021 after October investigations revealed mold concerns in a number of rooms. VCU’s site linked below provides their basic information on students’ options for relocation.
I am glad to see VCU taking this seriously, as our clinic sees a number of young patients whose health went downhill upon entering various college systems. Rightfully alarmed parents bring their 19 and 20-year-olds to our doors asking why their healthy high school graduate has suffered so much in their freshman year. We hear about:
- Severe fatigue
- Chronic headaches
- Panic attacks
- Worsening grades
- Weird rashes
- Weight gain
- Weight loss
- Food allergies
- Irritable Bowel symptoms
- And more
Of course, we approach these young adults with the same functional medicine root cause investigation as always. This includes searching for timeline clues that suggest an environmental exposure to a toxin could be behind their illness. Yes, freshman year stresses can exacerbate prior health issues and cause some minor health hiccups. However, these children head toward non-functional statuses with the severity of their symptoms. They sometimes have to drop out of school or make major alterations to their studies in order to just keep their heads above water.
For the most part, mold toxicity is one of the last things the young adults or their parents expect could be behind their new symptoms. Poor sleep habits, poor eating habits, and stress are often blamed first. While these can worsen the mold toxicity symptoms, ultimately the mold toxicity must be addressed for the patient to recover. The young adult patient may return home for short breaks or take time off school and improve, only to become sick again upon returning to school. Time away from the moldy dorm is helpful but long-term mold avoidance is necessary for long term recovery.
For some, mold avoidance may allow recovery in days to weeks without much else in terms of treatment. For others, the symptoms continue weeks and months after leaving the moldy dorm. In these cases, we step in and recognize the need for further detoxification of the toxins beyond simple avoidance. By confirming the ongoing chronic inflammatory response syndrome, we can initiate binder therapies and target the dysfunctions caused by mold with restorative therapies. When we work together, these young adults can over time return to their old selves and even school, just not to a moldy school or dorm.
Again, I appreciate that VCU is taking this issue seriously. Hopefully, they get a good remediator who will remove both the mold and the water issue which allowed the mold overgrowth to occur in the first place. Throwing bleach on a moist dorm wall will not solve their problems. Removing the moldy materials, sterilizing the surrounding areas, and eliminating the moisture contributors are the only hopes for long term success. Anything less will lead to more sick college students. Addressing the moldy buildings and removing mold toxins from the patients are the keys to healthier more abundant lives for these college students.
VCU Notice Link:
Sanctuary Functional Medicine, under the direction of Dr Eric Potter, IFMCP MD, provides functional medicine services to Nashville, Middle Tennessee and beyond. We frequently treat patients from Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Ohio, Indiana, and more... offering the hope of healthier more abundant lives to those with chronic illness.