Student reports of mold in residence halls have prompted officials at SUNY Old Westbury to clean and check living areas, as well as install temporary commercial dehumidifiers to deal with the problem, officials said Friday.
Blaming the warm and wet weather that has lasted for much of the late summer and fall, university officials said they first received reports of mold in the residence halls in the second or third week of the fall semester, with complaints increasing over the last week, SUNY Old Westbury spokesman Michael Kinane said. Last week, two students who reported health issues due to the mold were taken to the hospital emergency room and released, he said.
For those sensitive to mold, exposure can cause symptoms such as wheezing, red or itchy eyes, and skin irritation, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The school has five residence halls, housing 850 students, and reports of mold were scattered throughout those buildings.
"We at SUNY Old Westbury take our living conditions in our residence halls very seriously and address any issues as quickly as we can," Kinane said. "Unfortunately, this unusual humidity we have been having for weeks on end has created a challenge in our residence halls."
Students have reported, on social media, mold on their belongings. One student, Deanna Bobadilla, 21, left the residence halls for her home in Far Rockaway because of the problem. She took photos of her shoes and other belongings that had mold clinging to them.
"There are more things that have been destroyed and I have tossed out," said Bobadilla, a senior majoring in media and communications. "The school does nothing. They only send in people to clean the mold and thinks that’ll fix everything. They have to shut down the campus and do a thorough cleaning."
Kinane said the university is considering reimbursement for students whose belongings had been destroyed by mold. He said the university has assigned cleaners to tackle the mold and that the school, in its cleanup, is using a special paint that inhibits mold growth.
"Health and safety of our students is paramount," he said.
Student Evan Rufrano, 21, is in his first term as president of the Student Government Association and said he is aware of the mold issue.
"We are working with the Office of Residential Life and Student Affairs to resolve all issues," he said.