Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Mold
The health and safety of our residents and campus staff is our top priority. The Departments of Residential Life, Facilities Management, Environmental Health & Safety, and specialized remediation contractors are consistently working to address concerns around suspected mold growth in some locations on campus.
The FAQ below address common questions regarding the causes and prevention of mold growth, and health and safety concerns.
Mold spores are always present in both the indoor and outdoor environment. Mold grows best in warm, damp, humid conditions and reproduces by spores. The growth of mold in an indoor environment requires three basic elements: nutrients, water, and climate. Buildings provide food sources (primarily wood and paper) for mold to grow. The key to controlling mold growth on materials in the indoor environment is moisture control. This includes maintaining moderate relative humidity levels indoors, and responding promptly to water intrusion.
There are no federal or state regulations directly governing the presence of mold or mold spores in buildings. There are also no health standards from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), OSHA, EPA, or public health departments for concentrations of mold spores in indoor environments.
Air circulation in a building varies throughout the day and depends on the level of activity in that space. Mold spores are always present in both the indoor and outdoor environment. The key to controlling mold growth on surfaces is moisture control.
The key to mold control is moisture control. Here are some simple tips you can follow to help prevent mold growth:
- Keep windows closed, particularly during periods of high humidity and rain. Uncontrolled moisture and environmental particulates can enter buildings through open windows.
If you observe flooding or water intrusion in your space, or if your air is stagnant and/or humid, report these conditions as soon as possible for documentation, and response from Facilities Management staff
- Keep furniture and storage containers at least 12 inches from the fan coil unit (air conditioner/heater). When furniture or other objects are placed directly in front of the fan coil unit, it blocks the air flow into and out of the unit.
Exposure to mold can cause allergy-like symptoms (nasal stuffiness, eye irritation) and/or skin irritation in some people. Depending on a person’s sensitivity, these reactions could be more or less severe. The presence of mold may also exacerbate asthma. It is the time of year when there is an increase in cold and flu symptoms. It is often hard to distinguish these symptoms from those caused by mold, which can include nose and throat irritation, congestion and cough. More severe symptoms of mold exposure may include wheezing or shortness of breath. Though there is no test for mold exposure, if you are concerned or are feeling unwell, please consider consulting your doctor or the Student Health Center.
ASTM Level 2 surgical face masks are what the University currently provides for working indoors to protect against potential COVID-19 exposures. These masks are also rated to provide a moderate level barrier protection against fluids, microorganisms, and particulates.
Mold is present in the indoor and outdoor air and on surfaces all around us each day. It requires moisture and a food source to colonize materials. The University does not conduct air sampling for mold but does follow federal agency guidance: Please refer to the link below. https://ehs.georgetown.edu/environmental-affair/mold/#
From the CDC: “Standards for judging what is an acceptable, tolerable, or normal quantity of mold have not been established” and “Generally it is not necessary to identify the species of mold growth in a residence, and CDC does not recommend routine sampling for molds. Current evidence indicates that allergies are the type of diseases most often associated with molds. Since the susceptibility of individuals vary greatly either because of the amount or type of mold, sampling and culturing are not reliable in determining your health risk… therefore, no matter what type of mold is present, you should arrange for its removal.”
From the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA):
“In most cases, if visible mold growth is present, sampling is unnecessary. Since no EPA or other federal limits have been set for mold or mold spores, sampling cannot be used to check a building’s compliance with federal mold standards.”
Is it safe for me to stay in my workspace or residence hall where Suspected Mold Growth has been identified?
According to federal health and safety agencies, mold growth is commonly found in both indoor and outdoor environments. Some people are sensitive to mold and may experience short-term reactions in the presence of mold growth. Symptoms associated with mold exposure are not unique and cannot be readily distinguished from symptoms caused by other medical conditions, such as the common cold or seasonal environmental allergies. Some individuals may have a higher sensitivity and those with underlying medical conditions or who experience symptoms should consult with their health care provider regarding their specific risk to mold exposure.