Opinion: AU’s Preventive Work to Address Mold Threats

AU Housing responds to mold issue

Opinion: AU’s Preventive Work to Address Mold Threats

Last week’s opinion piece covered an important issue - the health and safety in residence halls when it comes to mold. We agree that is important and we want to share what we’ve done to coordinate the work of facilities and housing staff, risk management and the health center staff to address the concerns. 

We put in place preventive measures to improve and strengthen the response to the occurrences of mold last summer and fall. We learned a lot after an unprecedented amount of rain and humidity strained our cooling systems. Our community worked diligently to react, while taking into account areas where we can improve. 

A team of more than 15 staff from Facilities, Risk Management and Housing collaborated to evaluate students’ reports and implemented strategies to address health and safety concerns. Because the response for a documented case of mold is of high priority, we took steps to inform the residents affected and developed remediation plans. Each case was unique, and the process may have included the removal of furniture, deep cleaning by a specialized contractor and if needed, offering residents to relocate. Along with remediating impacted rooms, we commissioned multiple indoor air quality assessments in different buildings. The results tested well within the standards for indoor air quality and we shared them with the residents. 

The use of data is helping us learn from the past to improve. Hundreds of 2Fix requests have helped us understand and map concerns. This is why the submission of 2Fix tickets, every time there is a concern, is essential for our monitoring and continuous improvement. We’ve adapted proactive practices, including extra inspections to nearly 2,000 rooms during winter and spring breaks, in addition to ongoing and planned maintenance work. Frequent indoor air quality testing allows us to proactively address health and safety concerns. We’re now looking at historical data and reviewing analytics to better inform our proactive tactics and respond more quickly. 

These improvements in process will help us anticipate and prepare for the summer and fall of 2019. Staff members from Facilities, Housekeeping, Housing and Residence Life will work to prepare for your return. Over the summer, we will visit every room to ensure they are ready for occupancy. 

We take the health and safety of our community seriously and we’re here to listen to and work with students. We welcome any student to reach out to us to discuss their concerns by visiting our office in Anderson, calling us at 202-885-3370 or emailing us at housing@american.edu. 

Good luck as you wrap up your semester and finish final exams. 

Christopher Silva is the Director of Housing at American University.

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