Yes, Villanova’s policies and procedures to address mold are consistent with those of other institutions.
Mold and Mildew Prevention
What Causes Mold Growth?
Mold spores are ubiquitous. They are found indoors and outdoors, and are present just about everywhere on Earth. Mold can easily travel through open doors and windows and on clothing and shoes. During periods of high rainfall and high humidity, excess moisture can create conditions that are ideal for the growth of molds. Molds may begin growing indoors when mold spores land on wet or damp surfaces.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reports that there is no practical way to get rid of all mold spores in the indoor environment. The way to control indoor mold growth is to control moisture. Villanova’s goal is to prevent the conditions, primarily humidity, that support mold growth.
If you see excess moisture or suspect mold, immediately submit a work request.
Can Mold Cause Illness?
Generally, molds have similar toxicities, and certain types are not more hazardous than others. Mold toxicity is predominantly related to very high exposures, similar to conditions found in agricultural environments and not to conditions typically found in an indoor environment.
Molds produce spores which, in many species, become airborne. It is the airborne particles that may cause health effects in some individuals. Individuals who are sensitive to molds (estimated to be about 10% of the population) may experience an allergic reaction or upper respiratory symptoms. Certain molds produce mycotoxins, which have been suggested to contribute to respiratory irritations such as rhinitis and coughs. If you are having symptoms you believe may be the result of mold allergens, make an appointment at the Student Health Center.
How to Prevent Mold Growth
- Do not open windows while heating/cooling units are operating. This can cause condensation and may contribute to mold growth.
- Do not place a bed, large boxes, other furniture or clothes directly in front of the heating/cooling unit to maximize air flow in the room.
- Do not place potted plants or any other source of moisture on or around heating/cooling units.
- Set thermostats no lower than 72 degrees year round – refer to instructions posted on the heating/cooling unit.
- Do not leave wet or damp clothes, towels or shoes in closets or drawers or under beds. Set them out on a drying rack until completely dry.
- Empty trash on a regular basis; do not let it accumulate.
- Promptly clean up food and drink spills.
Villanova’s Response to a Report of Suspected Mold
A staff member trained in mold assessment will visit the room to assess the situation. If needed based on that assessment, appropriate cleaning of the area (either by trained University staff or third-party expert University contractors) will be completed as soon as possible. Heating/Ventilation/Air Conditioning (HVAC) unit operation and air circulation will be checked for proper operation.
Frequently Asked Questions
Air conditioning and ventilation in the residence hall rooms are not connected. Each room has an individual unit. So, an issue in one room is not symptomatic of a larger issue within a building.
To more quickly and effectively address the issue, we focus on eliminating sources of moisture and appropriately cleaning up any visible mold.
The CDC does not recommend or perform routine sampling for molds. According to the CDC, “Standards for judging what is an acceptable, tolerable or normal quantity of mold have not been established. The best practice is to remove the mold and work to prevent future growth.”
Moisture (leaks, spilled food or drink, excessive condensation or humidity, etc.) is necessary for mold to grow. Mold prefers a dark, warm, moist environment. That’s why it’s important in the residence to not block air conditioning, clean up any spills immediately, and report any leaks or problems with your air conditioner by submitting a work request.