Have you ever lived in a college dorm room and experienced the sometimes-unpleasant conditions of these shared living spaces? Dorm rooms will typically house anywhere from 2 to 4 students at a time, and these rooms will be rotated out every year, bring new occupants within the space frequently. These indoor living spaces can acquire a lot of hard living which may contribute to poor indoor air quality in this space, as well as the development of IAQ problems such as mold growth in the environment. Mold is a type of fungus that can grow and cultivate in a number of environments including indoor and outdoor spaces, and when this fungus begins to grow it can rapidly multiply and create a potentially volatile environment. Ultimately, there are a variety of conditions that may be present inside of a college dorm room that will make this indoor space the perfect host for mold growth, and conversely indoor air quality problems.
In this article we are going to learn more about the indoor air quality concerns in college dorm rooms, the risks of mold growth in these confined spaces, and the best commercial solutions for preventing and eliminating mold in these dorms to maintain healthy indoor air quality (IAQ).
Common Dormitory Problems
Let’s be honest, the cleanliness of a college dorm room could be less than stellar especially considering that the occupants of these spaces are young and have busy lives that leave cleaning on the back burner. When an indoor space like a dorm does not get properly cleaned it will lead to the accumulation of bacteria, viruses, and other germs in the space that can taint the indoor space and create a susceptibility to illnesses for those people that live in this college dormitory. In addition to pathogens developing in these small confined living spaces, mold may also be another issue that can form within these college living environments.
Many dormitory problems tend to be small in size and these small spaces will usually have limited airflow, and this limited airflow could lead to the development of mold to form in these optimal living conditions. Mold will thrive in environments that contain the ideal conditions such as moisture, a food source, oxygen, and dark environments – and many of these conditions will be found in dorm rooms. The most common places inside a dorm that mold may form will include air vents, dorm showers, and even in the kitchens where moisture will be present.
What is Mold
Mold is a fungus that is formed of multicellular thread-like structures called hyphae, that will develop in a variety of environments wherever moisture is present. When it comes to mold there are over 100,000 mold species in the environment that can be found growing throughout various spaces, all of which will produce certain effects in the indoor space when it is growing and spreading. As we talked about previously, mold growth will require moisture and the source of the moisture will come from washing, cooking, air humidifiers, condensation or leaks from plumbing or moisture from the outdoors.
After mold has formed within an indoor space like a college dorm room, the mold will start to produce and release mold spores into the air of this environment which are known as mold spores. Mold spores are reproductive seeds that are released off of mold to allow for the aggressive spreading of mold throughout the indoor space. These mold spores are known to be hazardous to human health as they can be easily inhaled/ingested into the deepest recesses of the lungs which can cause health effects in those exposed to these spores.
How Does Mold Make You Sick
There have been many reports of college students that are living in dorm rooms that have undergone adverse health effects from mold(s) that have started to form within these confined indoor living spaces. There are a variety of mold species that have been identified to be “toxic” as it grows and spreads into the environment, and these toxic molds will release toxins into the air that can be significantly hazardous to human health. These toxins that are released from mold are known as mycotoxins and these toxins are known to be sometimes deadly when human exposure occurs in large volumes in the environment, however, mycotoxin exposure is not likely and thus an unlikely concern for most people.
Although there are only some types of “toxic” molds, the other various mold species that may be produced inside of an indoor environment could also produce health effects to exposed occupants. As we have discussed previously, mold that is growing and thriving will start to produce and emit mold spores into the air, and these spores will easily become ingested or inhaled into a person’s body and therefore produce health effects that will make a person feel sick. According to the Mayo Clinic, the symptoms that may be triggered by mold exposure will include the following;
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Cough and postnasal drip
- Itchy eyes, nose, and throat
- Watery eyes
- Dry, scaly skin
- Shortness of breath
- Chest tightness
How Does Mold Grow in Dorms
The growth of mold that forms inside of dorm rooms will be caused by a multitude of different components within this space, specifically the air handling system that is housed in these confined living environments. According to the New York Times, a student at Georgetown University last year complained of mold growth in her dorm room that began to cause health problems for her such as chronic ear pain that led to an ear infection. This development of growth in this dorm room is largely contributed to the lack of maintenance on student dormitories for several years and the heating and cooling issues within these dorm rooms.
Once dorm rooms have a moisture source present in the building it will lead to the growth of mold that will most likely spread rapidly in the air space of the dorm. Mold spores will travel through the air of your dorms recirculated air and attach to the various surfaces in the dorm room that will allow for the mold to spread rapidly and aggressively. When this happens, it can be hazardous to the college occupants in these campus dorm rooms, and it can lead to major issues for the University who has these conditions within their owned dorm buildings.
How to Test for Mold in a Dorm Room
When the occupants of a dorm suspect that they have some sort of mold presence inside their living space, it may be necessary to alert the campus officials and ask for proper mold testing be conducted in your dorm room and throughout the door building. The process of testing for mold will include either the use of a do-it-yourself test kit that will be less reliable and less accurate, compared to having a certified mold professional come out to conduct lab tests to determine if mold is present and what kind of mold it is that is growing in this indoor space.
There are many companies that will provide mold specialist services that will allow for people to get an accurate assessment and testing of their indoor air quality and if mold is present inside this confined area. Thus, many universities that offer dorms to their students may look into getting these areas tested prior to letting students inhabit them for the school year.
How to Prevent Mold in Dorm Room
After you have identified that mold is growing inside of the dorm room, and that it is an indoor air quality concern the first step that will need to be taken to prevent and remove this mold is the integration of indoor air quality products like air purifiers. Commercial grade air purifiers are in abundance in the marketplace, with some of these air purifiers working in both commercial environments and personal indoor space, thus making it a great option for a dorm room that needs airborne mold removed and improved indoor air quality. There are a variety of different technologies that can be used in air purifiers, and only a handful of these air purification technologies will work for the removal of airborne mold in the air. Among these limited options, EnviroKlenz has become a trusted air purifier for both personal and commercial environments, especially when it comes to the removal of airborne mold.
The EnviroKlenz Mobile UV System is a revolutionary air purification technology that contains safe, nontoxic earth minerals to remove noxious and toxic chemicals and odors from the air space. In addition to this EnviroKlenz patented technology, the EnviroKlenz Mobile UV System also contains a second stage of filtration that uses a hospital-grade HEPA filter for fine particulate matter removal larger than 0.3 microns in size at a 99.99 percent efficiency. Strategically placed between the EnviroKlenz Air Cartridge and the hospital-grade HEPA filter there are two UVC (ultraviolet germicidal radiation) lights placed inside the EnviroKlenz Mobile UV System that shine directly onto the HEPA filter to kill the collected microorganisms (bacteria, viruses, and mold spores) that this filter captures and provide a high efficiency of kill to these microorganisms. This air purifier is great to place into any indoor space that has been compromised by mold growth and that has been mitigated of this mold on the surfaces but that needs to be mitigated from the air, as mold spores will travel in the air even after the mold is removed from the surfaces.
UV Mobile Air System
The EnviroKlenz UV Mobile Air System utilizes hospital-grade technology to provide maximum air cleaning efficiency for your home and office. It combines certified HEPA filtration along with our patented EnviroKlenz Air Cartridge (with the added addition of UVC lights) to remove airborne pollen, dust, odors, mold, gasses, fragrance, VOCs, allergens, bacteria, and more.
✓ Patented Earth Mineral Technology works to attack the VOC and break down on a compound level.
✓ Powder coated metal housing – Made in the USA
✓ No chemicals or masking agents
✓ Will not release any chemicals back into your environment
✓ Safer and faster at removing VOC’s than traditional carbon filters and Peco air purifier