The University of Georgia student came to campus this semester with everything she was told she’d need for her first semester of college, including an air purifier.
The student, who lives in Hill Hall, and many others say they’re often sick inside their dorms. They believe the illnesses — intense coughing, severe sore throat, congestion — are a result of substandard housing conditions from rooms that are improperly ventilated or old.
They also complained the school was slow in replacing air filters. One Facebook page created by a UGA parent includes multiple complaints from parents of mold and dirty air filters. Some students said they are taking antibiotics. Air purifiers have somewhat helped the student and others.
According to AJC, UGA officials told they have received 244 reports of potential mold since the start of the fall semester. In most instances, officials said they did not find mold. When mold was discovered, officials said it was immediately addressed.
In October, after heavy rains, they found mold growing on water pipes in Hill Hall. Students were notified that air quality tests found the mold present was “common, everyday molds” and the insulation on the pipes of air conditioning unitswere being replaced.
At Georgia Tech, officials blamed reported mold inside Cloudman Hall on a leak that allowed rainwater to seep inside the building. Work crews placed air scrubbers throughout the building to purify the air while ongoing repair work was completed, a spokesman said. Georgia Tech officials declined to answer additional questions.
Parents and students say the problems are indicative of longstanding issues, primarily in older buildings on the campuses, that need long-term solutions, such as renovations. Many were built in the 1960s and some haven’t had upgrades since the 1990s.
The problems aren’t entirely new. Georgia State University briefly moved 60 students from housing on its Atlanta campus two years ago after mold was discovered in some rooms. Some say the complaints are more frequent this year in part because students and parents are paying more attention to their health in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
For now, they want the schools to better check air filters, air conditioning and HVAC systems as well as a deep cleaning of floors, walls for dust and grime as well as mold and bacteria. UGA officials said heating and air filters are cleaned or replaced either quarterly or twice a year.
Meanwhile, students grappling with the health issues say they’ll push through.