St. Augustine’s students complain of mold growth in campus buildings

Wake County News

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – St. Augustine’s University students have been complaining about a mold problem in dormitories. 

Students are calling it mold, but it could be mildew. Experts said it’s a microbial growth, and that whatever is growing isn’t good. 

A concerned grandparent of a student sent CBS 17 photos of locations the Latham dorm at St. Augustine’s. The photos depict large areas of black growth on walls and ceilings in different parts of the building.

A number of students and a former employee said there is a problem with what they describe as “mold” in buildings at the school, but most were worried about talking about it on camera.

One student did say the problem is well known.

“One of my friends stays in Falkcrest (apartments) in the back and he was telling me he had mold in his showers and rooms,” said Chelsea Bell.

Vice President of Student Services Keith Smith said the school is aware and working on issues as they arise.

“We had mold remediation and we are taking care of the problem as we get reports,” Smith said.

The school did not comment specifically on the photos obtained by CBS17, despite the images being provided to them and them being given several opportunities to respond.

But, is it mold or mildew? 

Several remediation experts CBS17 spoke with said there’s no way of knowing until it’s tested.

“We call in a third-party testing agency to come in (to) take swabs and air samples,” said Adam Rosenzweig of C.A.R.E. Services. “They bring it back to the lab and tell us what it is, what kind of microbial growth it is, and if its mold.”

He said the lab then outlines the cleaning protocols remediation experts need to take to deal with the growth.

Dealing with microbial growth like mold or mildew requires high-powered cleaning chemical materials, special respirators to protect one’s lungs, and sealed suits to keep the spores off clothing.

He says the most important thing is not to aerosolize the growth because it’s made up of spores which can travel everywhere as well as get  into your lungs.

“You can’t kill mold,” Rosenzweig said. “What we do is stunt its growth, treat it, and seal it in so it won’t grow any further.

Mold can’t be killed, but it can be stopped from growing back.

“Mold can be prevented,” Rosenzweig said. ”It’s controlling moisture (and) it’s controlling food sources for it. If you control those things, it shouldn’t grow.”

CBS 17 asked the school what parents should think when they see reports of growth like that in buildings on campus.

“Health and safety are paramount here at St. Augustine’s University,” Smith said. He also said he would tell parents who have concerns that, “we are investigating the situation. In a nutshell, that is essentially what I would tell them.”

CBS 17 also wanted to know if there’s any state oversight on private schools like St. Augustine’s to make sure they clean up any problems like microbial growth. It was discovered that it’s completely unregulated — state agencies said they don’t inspect private schools for that kind of issue. 

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