Mold is everywhere; so the naysayers claim. That truth of that claim does not negate that some molds are more problematic than others and that some molds can be an issue in our world of air-tight buildings. With that in mind, yes, the mold that college students like those a Vanderbilt found could be negatively impacting their health and therefore at least diminishing the return on their educational investment.
The focus article reviews a News Channel Five investigative report after several Vandy students tried to bring attention to their moldy dorm issues. In short, the students felt that their requests of full remediation were not being met in a timely or complete manner. Not knowing the details of the story, I cannot comment on the validity of their complaint. My hope in this short post would be to help those in similar situations to think through and work out a plan with their college if in a similar predicament.
First, if you are a student in a dorm, you don’t have a lot of control over the building environment directly. You can control your room’s moisture level with a dehumidifier and your room’s air quality to some degree with a small air purifier. This can reduce the risk of not only mold growth in your room but also the amount of other chemicals floating in the air.
Second, beyond these preventive measures, you can keep your eyes open for problems. If you see condensation on the inside of your windows, you have too much moisture. If you see fuzzy or unusual growth on surfaces, consider testing with an ERMI test from a company like Envirobiomics. The do-it-yourself plate tests from home improvement stores won’t be enough to know if you have a problem so don’t waste your 20 dollars. Also watch what is happening in other dorm rooms around you. If you have a dorm neighbor with 50 pizza boxes stacked in their closet, this could turn into a problem. If you have a leaky ceiling in the bathroom, there will be a mold problem sooner or later.
Third, if you ever have to report a potential mold problem, keep a good record of the process. Take pictures. Document dates and locations. Document to whom you reported the issues and their response. Hopefully, you will get an adequate response and the records can go in a file or even the trash. If you get push-back, you have your records in case you need to talk to a remediator directly for an opinion or need to push harder.
Fourth, if you are beginning to experience weird symptoms that you have never had before, take mold exposure seriously. While many may just sneeze or cough in mold, others may develop severe fatigue, headaches, memory problems, rashes, weird allergies, or other unexplained symptoms. If you can’t get out of the dorm, at least clean your area and get the air purifiers going. Try a week or more of avoidance to document if the symptoms resolve while gone but return upon re-exposure.
Finally, if you continue to have symptoms after leaving the mold or having the dorm remediated, seek medical help from somewhere experienced in mold toxicity therapy. A large percentage of exposed individuals recover within weeks of mold avoidance, but for some, more intensive therapy is needed to prevent long term negative effects. We have quite a few 20-year-olds who required a few months of detox to finally return to normal after their moldy dorm exposures.
For many, living healthier more abundant lives means avoiding mold in dorms or other living and working spaces. Don’t let someone mislead you by saying, “Mold is everywhere, so you don’t have to work about it.”
News Channel Five. Vanderbilt University students want growing concern over mold taken seriously. By: Levi IsmailPosted at 5:42 PM, Apr 07, 2022 and last updated 4:45 PM, Apr 08, 2022. Accessed June 1, 2022. https://www.newschannel5.com/news/newschannel-5-investigates/vanderbilt-university-students-want-growing-concern-over-mold-taken-seriously
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.