The University of Kentucky is committed to providing work, study, and research environments that are free from recognized hazards, and to investigate complaints and concerns that may be related to poor indoor air quality (IAQ). Read more on IAQ from the EPA and from the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet.
Though specific regulations have not been developed for IAQ in the work place, there are several consensus standards and recommendations that UK EHS applies to IAQ concerns. These include the following:
- American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) 62.1 – Ventilation for Acceptable Indoor Air Quality;
- ASHRAE 55 – Thermal Environmental Conditions for Human Occupancy;
- American National Standards Institute, Institute of Inspection, Cleaning, and Restoration Certification (IICRC) S520 – Standard and Reference Guide for Professional Mold Remediation;
- NYC Department of Health & Mental Hygiene – Guidelines on Assessment and Remediation of Fungi in Indoor Environments.
To request an IAQ survey, please contact Robert Thomas at UK EHS: 859-257-7600.
What causes mold growth?
Mold is a ubiquitous part of the natural environment. Molds play a critical role in the decomposition of natural organic material. Individual mold spores are invisible to the human eye and are floating around outside in nature and indoors. However, when those spores and are exposed to wet/humid indoor areas they can begin to grow or colonize. It is impossible to eliminate mold and mold spores in the indoor environment due to daily human activity and the operation of building ventilation systems.
Mold is found almost everywhere and can grow on wood, paper, carpet, foods, insulation, ceiling tiles, clothing and painted walls as long as moisture and oxygen are present. Mold needs moisture to grow, therefore maintaining indoor moisture and humidity levels between 30-60 percent and fixing water leaks promptly will reduce the likelihood of indoor mold growth. Read more on mold from the CDC.
Given a source of moisture, mold can grow just about anywhere. Moisture control, air circulation and good housekeeping practices are necessary to control mold growth.
Are there state or national regulations regarding mold?
There are no federal or state regulations governing the presence of mold or mold spores in buildings. There are also no health standards from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or public health departments for concentrations of mold spores in the indoor air. The presence of visible mold on indoor building materials should be remediated. Read more on mold testing from the EPA.
Why not conduct mold testing?
Mold testing is not recommended in many cases. Instead, careful detailed visual inspection and recognition of moldy odors should be used to find problems needing correction. Efforts should focus on areas where there are signs of moisture or water vapor (humidity) or where moisture problems are suspected. The survey goals should be to locate indoor mold growth to determine how to correct the moisture problem and remove contamination safely and effectively. If suspected mold or mold promoting conditions are found, UK EHS assumes a mold infestation and recommends the appropriate corrective action.
The CDC and EPA, do NOT recommend testing as there are no exposure-based standards to use for evaluation of the sampling results.
UK EHS does not recognize 'at home' purchased settling plate or 'do it yourself' mold sampling kits. These methods are non-volumetric, and not indicative of airborne concentrations. This method of sample collection does not follow the analytical methods recommended by the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) or other professional organizations. One will get similar results by leaving a piece of fruit on the counter - mold will grow where there is a food source and moisture.
How does mold spread?
Air circulation in a building varies throughout the day and depends on the level of activity in that space. Mold spores are always present in both the indoor and outdoor environment and can be carried in on clothing, backpacks, shoes, etc.
Should I purchase a portable air cleaner and dehumidifier?
If you would like to purchase a portable air cleaner for your residence, please refer to the Guide to Air Cleaners in the Home provided by the EPA.
What are the health effects of mold?
Some people are sensitive to mold and may experience short-term or acute reactions in the presence of mold growth. Symptoms associated with mold exposure are not unique and cannot be readily distinguished from symptoms caused by other medical conditions, such as the common cold or seasonal environmental allergies. We recommend that you see your health care provider if you experience any health concerns.
UK Housing operates and mobilizes a 24/7, 365 maintenance request system that accepts work requests with by phone and/or written maintenance requests. Students may call the FIXIT work request desk by dialing 859-323-4948, press 1. Or they can submit a work request by using the FIXIT webpage. Priority and/or emergency issues will be handled as soon as possible. All other work requests will be handled within 24 business hours. Students should let their roommates know when they have made a maintenance request.
UK Housing engages in routine maintenance efforts to prevent maintenance and mold concerns. Buildings and residence hall rooms are inspected multiple times per year. If you believe that you have mold in your residence hall room, we recommend that you work order via FIXIT so that UK Housing staff are notified and can respond. UK Housing staff will respond to reports of mold using mold response guidelines.
What is the inspection process to determine how to address any mold in my residence?
Staff members from UK Housing respond to work requests. Staff will conduct a thorough visual inspection of of the residence to check for any evidence of mold and the conditions that promote mold growth.
If mold growth is found, staff will take appropriate steps to clean or remediate per the UK Housing Mold Response Guidelines. If warranted, UK Housing will contact UK EHS for an Indoor Air Quality survey which includes an inspection for mold and conditions that promote the growth of mold.
What will be done if there is mold found in my room?
Measures will be taken to thoroughly clean, remediate and dry the area affected. In conjunction with residents, Staff will monitor progress until the situation has been resolved and may instruct residents in ways to assist with this process.
Is it safe for me to stay in my residence hall that currently has mold?
In most cases, the answer is yes. According to federal health and safety agencies, mold growth is commonly found in both indoor and outdoor environments.
Does UK Housing conduct proactive inspections for mold?
Mold inspections within occupied spaces during the academic school year are conducted at the request of a FIXIT work request.
IAQ and Mold Information
- American College of Occupational & Environmental Medicine
- Adverse Human Health Effects Associated with Molds in the Indoor Environment, 2011.
- Pollen and Mold Reports for Lexington, KY
- American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology.
- National Toxicology Program: Mold
- Fact Sheets:
- US EPA I-BEAM Visual Reference Modules: Images of IAQ problems and solutions
- American College of Occupational & Environmental Medicine: Adverse Human Health Effects Associated with Molds in the Indoor Environment, 2011
- US EPA Care for Your Air: A Guide to Indoor Air Quality
- Pollen and Mold Reports for Lexington, KY: American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology
- Fungal Glossary from the University of Minnesota EHS Department
- National Toxicology Program: Mold
- EPA Moisture Control Guidance for Building Design, Construction, and Maintenance