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Environmental Challenges in New Orleans

Mold & Mildew

Molds are ubiquitous in nature and are found in all indoor and outdoor environments, particularly in New Orleans’ sub-tropical climate. In general, sampling for mold is not recommended when visible mold or sources of water intrusion are noted. Since mold or mildew growth is the result of moisture, it is imperative we identify the source of moisture and ensure it is fixed. If any mold or mildew were to be found, we would clean if possible or remove and replace the material where the mold or mildew was found.

In addition to the New Orleans climate, often there are conditions in a student’s room that could negatively impact air quality in the room. Some examples are:

  • Phelps/Irby suites in particular: Covering up the transom windows above the room doors that lead to the bathroom thus preventing air flow through the panel’s perforations (ventilators). These are intended to allow airflow between the bathroom and the bedrooms and remove moisture from all of the rooms.
  • Positioning beds and dressers in front of the HVAC units which prevents air from circulating in the room and prevents the A/C unit from removing moisture. Poor airflow, especially of conditioned air, is a top contributor to indoor mold growth in humid climates because moisture build-up contributes to condensation on surfaces conducive to mold growth.
  • Damp or wet clothing or materials not allowed to properly dry out before placing in tight or confined spaces. The lower air flow in the closet in combination with the already damp clothing can stimulate mildew or mold growth, especially as spores are present outside all year round. A best practice in any climate is to allow shoes to dry out and damp clothing set aside for the washing machine or hung out and allowed to dry before putting in tight or confined spaces. Clothing coming out of the dryer should also be completely dry before being put away.
  • Room-darkening window furnishings that block the HVAC vents and inhibit adequate airflow. Poor airflow in a humid climate leads to moisture build-up and can contribute to mold or mildew growth.

What can a student do to decrease the possibility of mold or mildew growth in their room?

  • Ensure that their room door closes tightly to the door frame when it is shut.
  • Always keep exterior doors closed, especially as mold spores are present outside all year round.
  • Keep all furniture and items at least a foot’s distance from the HVAC unit to allow for proper air flow in the room.
  • Allow damp items to fully dry before putting away.

If the above conditions do not exist and a student thinks their room feels damp or humid, is lacking air flow, or suspects mold or mildew growth, they should immediately put in a repair request to our Service Wave ticketing system, servicewave.tulane.edu. This will provide them with a record that a ticket was put in and they will receive information about the request—when it was completed, what was done or if there’s a delay due to a required part. If at any time a student has questions about the work being done in their room, they can reach out to Campus Services via email, by phone at (504) 865-5441, or in-person in the Lavin-Bernick Center for University Life, suite 107.