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Russell Hall residence hall on August 9, 2018 in Athens, Georgia. Russell Hall is now home to one thousand first-year students after being closed for renovations during the 2017-2018 school year. (Photo/Rebecca Wright)

Hannah Crouch, a resident of Russell Hall, received a positive result for a home-testing mold kit on Sept. 30 after she had upper respiratory problems for four weeks since move-in. Crouch, a freshman intended-journalism major from Atlanta, said she had allergic reactions to certain types of mold before.

“[My parents] thought ‘This isn’t normal. There’s probably something going on in the air; there has to be some kind of other factor, maybe it’s an allergic reaction,’” Crouch said.

Her parents decided to test her room for mold with a test kit bought at a hardware store. Crouch’s dad, Matt Crouch, reached out to University of Georgia Housing after the results returned positive for penicillin. Housing responded within one day and said they would address his concerns.

“In my opinion they took it seriously in that they went out and got professional testing done,” Crouch said.

Matt Crouch said he was satisfied by the way UGA Housing responded to his concerns about mold, but he wished they had moved through the process more quickly.

Housing’s response

Housing randomly inspected rooms for mold after Crouch raised concerns.

Housing officials “visually inspect” and clean surfaces reported to have mold, said Rebecca Beeler, UGA Marketing and Communications Division public relations manager, in an email. She said molds reported to Housing “typically do not pose a health risk to students,” who are exposed to such molds daily.

“Even so, the health and wellbeing of our students is of primary importance to us, and we certainly encourage all of our residents to report any facilities concerns, including what they believe to be mold,” Beeler said.

UGA Professor of Medical Mycology Xiaorong Lin said older air conditioning systems provide higher chances of growing pathogenic fungi, which can cause allergies and asthma. However, the Russell air system was completely replaced in the recent $44.5 million renovation.

“In response to a parent’s feedback, University Housing discovered an isolated humidity anomaly and corrected it last week,” said Greg Trevor, UGA executive director for media communications.

Trevor also said professional mold testing was conducted by Environmental Testing & Consulting, LLC on Nov. 5. UGA expects to know the results after Thanksgiving.

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