The University of Minnesota is working to evaluate and remediate recently discovered excessive mold growth in one of their freshman dorms. After several students reported health concerns and visible mold, the university initiated a full inspection with a report to be released soon. So far, they report having found Cladosporium sphaerospermum but no mention of other mold species yet.
Cladosporium commonly inhabits building and materials where low levels of humidity and moisture allow it to grow. This mold species is not known to produce mycotoxins, but instead seems to release a number of allergens which can trigger sinus, asthma, or other allergic symptoms. Only very, very rarely does it infect humans.
The students who were quoted in the online report noted a variety of symptoms involving allergies or the respiratory tract. One reported significant eye irritation since living in the dorm. Another experienced upper respiratory tract infection symptoms which worsened when they returned to the dorm.
The university reported that some abatement work was beginning, and efforts are being made to relocate students until this work finished. They describe the work to include a deep cleaning and a special paint that will prevent future fungal growth.
With no direct connection to any of these students or the university, I can add a few thoughts. First, I hope they truly inspect and don’t just do the minimum. Leaving behind mold beyond the visible will open the door for more problems a few months down the road. Second, I hope they actually address moisture and humidity issues or the few leftover spores will flourish, regardless of how clean the rest is. Third, I hope the students take the time to clean their rooms with some type of mold disinfectant spray or fogger. Since much of this was found in air ducts, the spores are now everywhere. Fourth, either the school or the students need to consider air purification on a small or large scale. This can ameliorate current issues and future risks. Fifth, while Cladosporium is not a toxic threat, I doubt that it is the only mold present in such a large infestation/large building. There has to be more lurking around the building with toxins in hand.
Finally, most of the students will likely recover and return to normal activities that freshman do. However, a few may continue to linger with a variety of symptoms that just won’t let go. They may continue to have fatigue, allergies, headaches, frequent infections, weird rashes, dizziness, insomnia or other unexplained symptoms. They may even become depressed or inexplicably anxious. Those individuals will need some further help to remove possible toxins and restore a healthier more abundant life. I do hope they get help with this recovery similar to what we do for other college students at our clinic.
“University of Minnesota confirms mold growth in freshman dorm vents” by Caroline Cummings, MSN CBS Minnesota, Published Oct 6, Accessed October 19th, https://www.msn.com/en-us/health/other/university-of-minnesota-confirms-mold-growth-in-freshman-dorm-vents/ar-AA12Eycc.
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.