By Christie Counts, Nov. 08, 2022
This semester, students living in Estrellas discovered mold inside their air ventilation systems prompting the university to do an inspection and cleaning of the vents. Out of concern, students in other dorms took the initiative to investigate their vents, also finding mold-like growths.
Some students who submitted work requests over three weeks ago to have their air vents checked have yet to receive a response from University Housing Services.
Students who shared their story with The Poly Post wanted to remain anonymous in fear of retribution from the University’s administration.
“My roommate put in many work orders about checking the vents for mold and requesting a mold test. They did not receive a response, so they opened a vent to see for themselves and found a lot of mold-like spots on it,” a Luna resident told The Poly Post. “My roommate solely got a response when their mom called housing to complain, then they came in only to tell us there can’t be mold and it’s just dirt or dust. The vent was visibly disgusting and there was a lot more on it than dirt and dust.”
CPP does not fall under The Los Angeles Department of Public Health. California State Universities are responsible for carrying out health concerns through their own Environmental Agency or bringing in outside experts.
“We are offering students air filters and students are able to submit work orders,” said Christy Orgeta, senior coordinator of Residential Education and Leadership. “We continue to offer these (services) to people, if they request it.”
In September, housing services hired an outside company to inspect and test the air quality in Estrellas which concluded that acceptable clearance levels were achieved.
According to Orgeta, Housing plans to move forward with complaints coming from other dorms by having deep cleaners service the buildings in the summer. A part of this cleaning will continue to include assessments and cleaning of the ventilation systems.
A student who lives in Sol said residents noticed mold in their own vents and submitted work orders several weeks ago, which have yet to be acknowledged by housing. Waiting for a response and worried, the students unscrewed their vents and placed them on their outdoor decks.
According to Orgeta, when work orders are submitted the department triages them, placing them from most to least important. Ventilation issues are considered very urgent, and housing is to respond to these issues quickly.
Along with work orders, dorms have area coordinators to assist students, these are live in professionals and staff members for the buildings. Students can reach out to the area coordinators who will know the situation and accelerate the work order process.
Orgeta also said students who want a cleaning before summer and are concerned about mold being in their ventilation system can fill out a work order and communicate with the area coordinator and housing administration.
An area coordinator sent an email on Oct. 19 to Lunas and Montanas suite residents, informing students the Environment Agency only inspects and cleans dorm ventilation systems of students who have submitted work orders. The email also indicated that the ventilation systems are unique to each suite and do not cross over to other suites.
The third student said when Housing had the Environmental Agency come clean the vents, they did not state anything about the mold. When the student stopped to ask them what they cleaned, the workers said it was just dirt.
“This whole situation makes me extremely irritated because being a student that doesn’t live nearby, I have no choice but to sleep here in the condition that it is in,” a student told The Poly Post.
According to a student living in the Village, mold is also an issue there.. They state their bathroom is not well ventilated and there is a crack in the bathtub wall they have to clean out themselves when it grows mold. Complaints were submitted and their resident advisor had to remind staff three times before they came to fix it. The staff claimed they used a mold treatment, but the mold is still visible.
“We have to get our percurrent and our partners through different bureaucracies of administration to get things to move along, these companies came in rather quickly, but I am not sure it was quick enough for the community” said Megan Stang, associate vice president of Student Affairs. “But that’s an education piece for us and also hearing expectations, we appreciated hearing student voices around this, and transparency is key.”
According to the California Department of Public Health’s Environmental Health Division, the presence of water damage, dampness, visible mold or mold odor in schools, workplaces, residences and other indoor environments is unhealthy. If someone sees or smells mold, it could harm health. The CDPH suggests not to test for mold because any amount of mold or type of mold can cause or worsen health problems for people. They recommend the cleaning or removal of mold and moldy materials as rapidly and safely as possible, to protect the health of occupants. Find out more on the CDPH’s website through Statement on Building Dampness, Mold and Health and Frequently Asked Questions about mold testing.
Before the deep cleaning takes place in the summer, if students feel their vent requires immediate attention, housing implores them to submit work orders. After it is received their team will check it out and clean the vents if needed.
Feature image courtesy of a Sol resident
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