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Mold growth is making University of Pennsylvania students sick

More than 20 rooms in the Quad are contaminated with mold, forcing students to move out of their housing and temporarily relocate. The mold problem is also sparking health concerns.

Penn’s Facilities and Real Estate Services have determined that water damage and mold has affected 22 student rooms in the Quad. It’s also been found in a hallway, as well as in the apartment of a faculty member. This information comes from FarmarzVakilizadeh, the Executive Director of Operations and Maintenance at FRES. At the time of writing, 14 of the 22 rooms have been repaired.

Eleven students have been forced to relocate to other on-campus rooms or at nearby hotels as a result of the mold issues at the Quad, said Douglas Berger, the Executive Director for Business Services. Berger oversees Residential Services at U Penn.

Seven students continue to live in other accommodations while their rooms are undergoing additional work. A lot of the students who have experienced high levels of mold growth were located in Ware College House hallway E.F. Smith.

Akash Kain, an Engineering and Wharton freshman, and a resident of the E.F. Smith 3rd Floor, reported black mold growing in the common area, as well as in a bathroom and dorm rooms in the residence hall.

Samantha Pancoe, also a freshman and E.F. Smoth 3rd floor resident, said that she also discovered black mold growing out of her room through the entire hallway. She also said that the mold in the bathroom appeared overnight and that it was dripping a yellowish liquid.

“When we got to school, we were like, ‘Our rooms are really weirdly moist’, and then you’d get into bed and your bed would just be wet,” Pancoe said. She also stated that the mold problem got progressively worse in a short period of time.

Jain claimed that he and other students who live in the hall started to feel ill as a result of mold exposure. Students who lived in the hall appeared to be coughing more when they were in their rooms, so Jain said that they tried to stay out of the hall as much as they possibly could.

Giang T. Nguyen, the Executive Director of Student Health Services, said that there have been incidents of students experiencing healthy problems, which he believes is the result of their exposure to mold.

“We haven’t had a huge number of people coming to Student Health because of it,” Nguyen said. “But I know that we have had some.”

Nguyen said that mold exposure can spark an allergic response in some individuals, which can cause a range of symptoms, such as a scratchy throat, itchy eyes, scale-like patches on the skin, and coughing. However, he was not able to comment on specific cases.

Mold Inspection & Testing Philadelphia has performed numerous mold assessments in buildings throughout Philadelphia. We urge the University of Pennsylvania to schedule routine mold examinations so that they can better protect the health and well-being of their students and staff.