Managing Mold and Mildew in Residential Areas

Molds are found in virtually every environment, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and mold and mildew can thrive in warm, humid places. Florida is on record as the most humid state in the nation, with South Florida's relative humidity being higher than most areas throughout the entire year. Therefore, moisture control, proper use of thermostats to allow for air circulation, and good housekeeping practices are necessary to control mold growth. 

How to Prevent Mold and Mildew

General good housekeeping practices (vacuum floors, wipe down counters, clean up spills, wipe the inside and outside of refrigerators, etc.) should be shared by all roommates to help reduce the potential for mold growth.

To help prevent the growth of mold and mildew in residential spaces, it is essential that resident students do the following:

  • Keep windows closed
  • Set thermostats between 72 to 74 °F (22 to 23 °C)
  • In suites and apartments, keep bathroom doors closed while showering
  • Keep air vents unobstructed 
  • Hang wet towels or clothing to allow them to dry
  • Keep all surfaces, furniture and clothing dry
  • In suites and apartments, routinely clean bathroom areas to prevent the growth of soap scum or buildup of mildew (Community bathrooms are cleaned daily and deep cleaned monthly by custodial staff)
  • Report any water problems (leaks, dripping faucets, wet carpet, drips heard behind the air intake cover, etc.) immediately by submitting a Service Request to Facilities and Operations
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  • How to Respond When You See Mold or Mildew

    If you see a little pink substance around the bottom of your shower curtain, a little black substance on your windowsill or other possible mold growth, don’t panic. Mold or mildew growth is generally not a cause for concern unless you have been identified as someone with asthma or severe allergic reactions to mold.

    1. To prevent further growth, clean the area with hot soapy water or use one of the many quaternary-ammonium-based cleaners commonly available as soon as you see the first signs of mold or mildew. Do not use household bleach.
    2. Check the area to determine if the housekeeping practices listed above are not being followed or should be improved. Not following these guidelines may cause excess moisture to build up inside residential spaces and lead to the growth of mold or mildew.
    3. Check the area to see if there is a leak or a maintenance issue causing the excess moisture and if so, submit a Service Request immediately. For your own safety and to prevent unnecessary damage to University property, students should never attempt to perform maintenance tasks on their own. 

    Keep in mind that cleaning just once will not result in never having to clean that same area again. Regular cleaning is necessary to prevent mold.

  • How the University Responds to Reported Incidents of Mold

    If students have followed the guidelines above and continue to see excessive mold or mildew growth or if they feel that a mechanical issue is the cause, submit a Service Request.

    Appropriate staff will determine the cause of the persistent moisture issue and take measures to correct the problem as quickly as possible (within 24 hours).

    Upon resolving the cause for the excessive moisture, measures will be taken to thoroughly clean and dry the area affected. This work may be completed by housing staff and/or an outside contractor specializing in water cleanup and restoration.

    Staff may instruct residents on ways to prevent future incidents from recurring.

    More information is available from Facilities Operations and Planning Environmental Health and Safety.

  • About Mold and Mildew

    Mold and mildew are naturally occurring types of fungus that consist of tiny organisms and can be found almost anywhere. Most molds grow naturally outdoors, like other allergens, and can be easily brought into buildings through open windows and doors, ventilation and air conditioning systems, clothing, or shoes.

    Although most people have little to no reaction to household molds, some people who suffer from asthma or have other allergies may be more sensitive. Thus, personal susceptibility plays a major factor in the severity of symptoms experienced from mold exposures. Additionally, those more sensitive may also be suffering from other allergens in the air. As with any medical concern, always seek the advice of the Student Health Service or your medical provider.

  • Guidelines for Air Quality

    While there are no federal or state regulations directly governing the presence of mold or mold spores in buildings, and while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not produce standards for concentrations of mold spores in indoor air, the University does follow the consensus of subject matter experts in the “Guidelines On Assessment of Fungi in Indoor Environments” published by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

    Additionally, Facilities Operations and Planning staff routinely change air filters inside residential spaces every three months. Air filters can be changed more frequently for students with respiratory allergies and/or asthma via a Service Request.