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Mold found in the English-Philosophy Building

BY NICHOLAS MOFFITT | SEPTEMBER 15, 2014 5:00 AM

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A section of the University of Iowa English-Philosophy Building could be closed for up to five weeks starting this week, one UI official said.

Dan Heater, the director of building and landscape services for UI Facilities Management, said air samples have tested positive for numerous types of mold in an area of the building used by teaching assistants.

The mold has been found in numerous spots in the west wing of EPB, including some of the walls and air registers, said UI Professor Steve Duck, the chairman of the Rhetoric Department.

He said the mold has been contained in those areas, so the rest of the EPB is safe for use.

The discovery was originally made on Aug. 21, but Heater said the mold could have been around longer in an area that is unoccupied during the summer.

“The custodians who checked it noticed humidity and moisture issues,” he said. “We then had to get the air tested by environmental health and safety.”

Although the original findings were in August, Heater said the area had more recently been closed off pending test results.

Teaching-assistant offices have been relocated to Seashore Hall, something Duck said has not been too much of a hassle.

“The Seashore sixth floor was open because of previous renovations and repairs,” he said. “So we were able to move into there.”

Duck said the current estimate for the reopening of the mold-stricken portions are around five weeks. Restoration and cleaning of that area will begin this week.

Because officials don’t know the level of damage, the cost is still up in the air, Heater said. The cost won’t be determined until the end of the project.

Heater said one factor contributing to cost is replacing furniture. Any sort of upholstered or cloth items will most likely need to be thrown away, which can raise the cost of the project substantially, he said.

One student with classes in the building said he hadn’t been notified about the mold and felt it was irresponsible for the UI to not inform students.

“The musty smell has been worse than when you normally walk in, but we haven’t really been told anything,” UI senior Josh Schirm said.

Duck said while there are potential health risks with the mold, officiails have received no reports of health issues.

Potential symptoms related to mold could include stuffiness, eye irritation, wheezing, and skin irritation, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Prolonged exposure could also lead to fever or shortness of breath.

Now that the mold has been pinpointed, Facilities Management will work along side ServiceMaster 380 of Cedar Rapids —a disaster cleanup and restoration company — to get the building section in shape to be reopened.

“We’re really hoping it will be clear in the five weeks,” Duck said.


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