Memphis, TN – Mold is forcing the University of Memphis to renovate its student health center building.
The mortar between the exterior bricks on the 1967 building has become too porous and is allowing in too much moisture, forming ripe conditions for mold, officials said Thursday.
“We found some areas of mold that were higher than they needed to be, mostly along Sheetrock and the joints where the floors meet the walls,” said Charlie Black, energy and environmental regulations manager with the physical plant at the U of M.
“We’ve had 20 inches more rain than is normal for this time of year and that’s causing a lot of moisture right now, and that’s resulting in mold,” Black said. “Frankly, this is not so unusual for this area.”
Work to replace much of the exterior brick, update now-leaky heating and cooling systems and replace underground pipes is expected to last well into the spring. The first phase of the work will cost about $100,000, and officials said they don’t have an estimate for the total cost.
U of M spokesman Curt Guenther said he does not know of any other active investigations into mold infestations at other university buildings.
Workers at the health center noticed the mold and changes in health in October. Dr. Wayne Capooth, medical director of student health services, and another staff member in the building began complaining of more headaches and sinus infections.
“We’ve had moisture problems here for years,” Capooth said. “Every time it rains heavily we have flooding. So we knew the possibility of mold was there.”
Capooth said he’s noticed a significant difference in his health since workers at the university addressed the problem in October. He said he’s also excited about the long-term effect the renovations will have on the environmental conditions in the building.