The University of Maryland continued work this week to remove mold plaguing a dormitory, forcing dozens of students to spend the early days of the school year in hotels.
Jessica Jennings, a university spokeswoman, said the cleaning was progressing on schedule at Elkton Hall, a coed dorm on Maryland’s campus in College Park. It was expected to stretch into October, an online schedule indicated.
“We’ve been regularly communicating with students and parents,” Jennings said. “We would just want them to look at the information that’s available and make sure that they know that resident life and resident facility staff are working around the clock to address the situation.”
Mold had been reported throughout Elkton Hall, which is home to more than 500 students. The problem worsened recently because of “significant rain and high humidity in our area,” according to a university statement. There were isolated reports of mold in other residence halls, it said.
“We recognize and sincerely apologize for the inconvenience and concern this has caused our residents and their families," the statement said. "We want to assure students we are working as quickly as possible to eradicate the problem.”
For some people, exposure to mold or mold spores can cause allergic reactions and lead to symptoms that include sneezing and red eyes, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Mold can also trigger asthma attacks. Even among those not allergic to mold, exposure can irritate the eyes, nose and throat.
It’s relatively normal to have a few episodes of mold, said Bryan Gallion, a Maryland senior who is president of the Residence Hall Association. But the rainy weather made matters worse.
“It’s definitely a less-than-ideal situation, but it’s really not one that could have been prevented," Gallion, 21, said. “I think all the relevant departments are doing everything they can to address the issue.”
Maryland officials hired contractors who specialize in addressing mold, and also cleaned and replaced furniture and installed “commercial-grade dehumidifiers" in hallways, according to the statement. The university said the decision to temporarily relocate Elkton Hall residents to hotels was made “out of an abundance of caution."
“We are confident that Resident Life and Residential Facilities are taking the necessary steps to protect students’ health and wellness," the Residence Hall Association, a student organization at Maryland, said in a statement.
Residents of Elkton Hall were scheduled to leave the building in staggered groups, a floor-by-floor process that Jennings said allowed for deep cleaning.
“They’re moving people out of the floor so they can fully clean and remediate the entire space," Jennings said. "This is the most efficient way to clean it completely. That is why they are moving people out, doing this full clean, and then moving people back in.”
Jennings said in an email Thursday that the building’s seventh floor — the first listed for mold removal on the online schedule — was clean, and students could move back that morning. About 70 to 80 students live on each floor, she said.
If students have concerns about mold in dorm rooms and their floor had not been cleaned, Jennings said, they should contact residential facilities officials.
“And then any student who has health concerns can request an immediate move,” she said. “We do have facilities available for anyone who is experiencing health concerns.”