Mold problems reported in student apartments
Published: Wednesday, July 11, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, July 11, 2012 17:07
Summer is filled with the sun, tan lines and cool drinks, but unfortunately in Florida, it is often interrupted by wet weather. This damp environment has sprung up reports of mold from students in Knights Circle and the Towers at Knights Plaza.
Mold is a form of fungi that is natural in the environment. Spores from mold move through the air and are attracted to damp areas, where they land and multiply. Mold can grow on just about any surface; however, cloth, wood, wallboard and insulation are good sources of food for mold, along with moisture. It only takes 24 to 48 hours for mold to grow on a wet surface.
Despite mold being unsanitary, it does not pose immediate, serious health risks to most people. However, those with allergies may need to be more careful, according to the Georgia Department of Human Resources. Allergy symptoms from mold are typical and can include a runny nose, scratchy throat and itchy eyes. More serious symptoms may be wheezing and coughing. Even though small doses of contact with mold do not threaten health, it is still something that should be taken care of right away.
Unfortunately, UCF is not immune to the appearance of mold. Tower 4 resident Paige Humphrey, a senior event management major, reported mold during the Summer A term. Humphrey and her roommate found their clothes and shoes were infested with mold.
“I was grossed out thinking I was living in mold,” Humphrey said.
After waiting three days for her complaint to be resolved, Humphrey got her roommate’s parents involved. Once they called, UCF Maintenance immediately got on top of the issue. Tests were done by the Environmental Health & Safety Department, and the women were given dehumidifiers for a temporary fix while Maintenance further assessed the situation. Two days later, Humphrey received an email advising that the mold resulted from a problem with the air conditioning unit in their apartment but the issue had been completely resolved.
Despite her encounter, Humphrey believes the situation was handled well, and she feels safe living there because of the tests done by Environmental Health & Safety. To her knowledge, no other residents in Tower 4 reported any mold problems.
Not all mold-infested apartments have been taken care of so well, though. Whitney Harrington, a junior interdisciplinary studies major, lives at Knights Circle, where she has also experienced some issues.
Knights Circle has had multiple mold cases reported under its previous name, “Pegasus Landing.” According to a previously published article in the Orlando Sentinel, UCF “suspended their arrangement” with the complex because of the mold. The newly named apartment complex is still battling old problems.
Harrington moved into Knights Circle in October 2011 and had to be relocated just months later; however, she was told the reason was because of remodeling. The real reason was because there was mold to be cleaned up, Harrington said.
Knights Circle was contacted but didn’t provide a comment in time for publication. If it were not for Harrington’s roommates, she would not have known about the mold.
“They did not say mold was an issue here,” Harrington said.
There was mold in the toilet and on the floors. After filing a complaint with the maintenance department, Harrington was given humidifiers until the mold issue was handled three weeks later.
“I feel like I had been lied to,” said Harrington, who was distraught when she realized the apartment she was relocated to also had mold.
The best thing is to avoid allowing an apartment to become an environment where mold could grow; however, it is sometimes uncontrollable. The Florida Department of Health suggests immediately cleaning and drying spills and using a dehumidifier to reduce indoor humidity levels.
“The easiest way to prevent mold … is to control dampness,” according to an article on the Florida Department of Health website.
When leasing an apartment, both the landlord and the student have responsibilities. According to A Knight’s Guide to Living Off Campus, “Your landlord must keep your residence up to health, building and housing codes.”
Students have a list of responsibilities as well. Some include, “Keep your place clean,” and “Contact your landlord when repairs are needed,” according to the guide. A Knight’s Guide to Living Off Campus can be located at the UCF Off Campus Student Services Center.
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