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The Daily Tar Heel

Students express concern about mold in on-campus housing

An air conditioning unit at Ehringhaus Residence Hall pictured on Sunday, Sep. 24, 2023. Multiple students believe there is mold in their dormitory air conditioning unit.

First-year student Madalyn Schmitz said she had cold symptoms and her roommate felt “really sleepy all the time” for a few days before they realized they might have been exposed to mold in their room in Ehringhaus Residence Hall.

Schmitz said her roommate contacted their resident adviser, who directed them to fill out a housing repair request on the UNC Facilities Services website. 

About three hours later, a member of the maintenance staff replaced the filter of their AC unit, which Schmitz and her roommate think was the source of the mold, she said. 

“The [AC unit] right above ours drips water onto our machine so it could have gotten sunk into our filter, and it could have grown mold there,” Schmitz said.

Discovering mold in their residence hall rooms has led some students to worry about the effects of the mold on their health. After more than 1,000 residents were evacuated out of Granville Towers during mold removal in 2019, this issue remains a con​​cern for UNC students.

According to Carolina Housing, if students in on-campus residence halls discover mold growth, leaky water pipes or other water accumulation, they should immediately fill out a housing repair request because “microbial growth can occur in as early as 24-48 hours.”

After a report is filed, UNC Media Relations said in an email statement that the mold is inspected and cleaned by Carolina Housing, UNC Facilities Services and UNC Environment, Health and Safety. Maintenance staff work to address underlying issues and prevent a recurrence, Media Relations said.

First-year Maren Molinaro said she noticed a leak under her bathroom sink in Koury Residence Hall last Tuesday and submitted a housing repair request to fix it.

“I went to put my hand back there and I was like, ‘Look, this piece of wood is sopping wet.’ And my hand comes back, black with mold on it,” Molinaro said.

While Molinaro did not know about the mold when she filled out the original maintenance request, she said she informed a community director and RA about the additional issue. Later that day, a maintenance employee came and fixed the leak, but there was still mold under the sink, Molinaro said.

“We were very worried because we use the bathroom to wash our dishes and brush our teeth and get ready in the morning, so it's constantly in use, and — judging by the water damage underneath our sink — we know that the mold has been there our entire time that we have been here,” Molinaro said.

She also said she and her roommate cleaned up the mold themselves and plan to place an additional request to have the area cleaned.

To prevent the growth of mold in on-campus residence halls and “help promote a healthy living environment," the University recommends that residents follow the three C’s: “Cleaning, Climate and Communication.” 

The Carolina Housing website advises residents not to block their HVAC air supply, air vents or doors where the units are located because reduced air flow to the HVAC system can promote mold growth.

A maintenance staff of 65 people from both Carolina Housing and UNC Facilities Services is responsible for repairs and other related issues in on-campus residence halls. According to Media Relations, Facilities Services also regularly performs scheduled preventative maintenance of HVAC systems and buildings for mold prevention.

Editor's note: The Daily Tar Heel reached out to both Schmitz and Molinaro’s RAs, as well as other community directors for comment. One community director declined to interview on the basis of what they called a “media ban”.

@dailytarheel |

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