Mold can be a problem in any building, but at a university, it can be particularly serious. However, testing buildings for mold, particularly on a large busy campus, can be time-consuming, expensive, and unreliable. Since the best defense against a mold problem is prevention, or at least early diagnosis, a comprehensive maintenance and remediation plan is a must to keep students safe, and buildings operational.
The number one cause of mold is dampness, so it is paramount to keep potentially moldy spaces dry. If there is a leak or seasonal dampness, this must be addressed as soon as possible, since mold can cause serious health issues, or make certain pre-existing health conditions worse. Since mold spores are most likely to be inhaled, the potential health issues include allergic reactions, asthma, and other respiratory issues. This makes preventing mold an important consideration for schools and universities, particularly in dorm buildings.
Mold is a common occurrence and can grow anywhere that moisture and oxygen are found. This makes it virtually impossible to eliminate all the mold spores in an indoor environment. Inside, mold can lie dormant in dusty areas only to be disturbed by movement, even something like routine vacuuming or cleaning. Because of this resilience, controlling indoor moisture and ventilation is the most effective way to prevent or remediate mold growth.
Schools and universities are particularly at risk due to the age and construction of many campus buildings. Mold is more than happy to grow on wood, paper, old cardboard, gypsum (drywall), old carpeting, and even dust. Many old schools and university buildings haven’t always had the best upkeep and as these old building materials break down, they become the perfect place for mold to grow.
But mold also needs moisture and oxygen. Many of these older buildings have aging plumbing and HVAC systems that leak water or coolant, creating the perfect damp environment. Buildings built between the 1970s and 1990s also tend to feature better sealing than buildings that came before but may lack adequate ventilation leading to moisture buildup. Moisture can also come from leaky roofs, gutters, and groundwater that collects under older buildings.
Once the mold has been detected it must be addressed immediately, both to prevent possible health issues and to keep it from spreading. The moldy space must be dried and controlled with the proper commercial equipment, including desiccant dehumidifiers. Depending on the composition of the materials the mold has grown on, they must be remediated, or removed and replaced. Once space has been cleared of mold great care should be taken to keep the space dry and ventilated, otherwise, there is a good chance that the mold will return.
Working to prevent mold by increasing ventilation and dehumidifying the air can save you a great deal of time and money in the long run and protect students from potential health hazards. Older buildings are particularly at risk, and in turn, the risk to students in residential buildings such as dorms is far greater. Many universities have dealt with mold issues in dorms and classrooms, costing them thousands of dollars and displacing hundreds of students. In the last few years, Florida State, The University of Louisville, and The University of South Carolina have all had to relocate students while dealing with mold issues that could have been prevented with better maintenance and ventilation.
Since mold grows naturally wherever it can find moisture and oxygen, it can be extremely difficult to fight, particularly when older buildings create the perfect environment for mold to thrive. Since mold is a health hazard, it is paramount that mold be prevented or, should it appear, be addressed quickly and effectively. Polygon is a global leader in climate and emergency drying solutions and has decades of experience working with universities to prevent dangerous mold growth. We have all the tools and expertise needed to overcome any mold issue. Learn more about Polygon’s drying solutions for universities today.