South Carolina college students complained of thousands of instances of mold exposure in dorm rooms over the past two years, according to a new investigation by the Charleston-based Post and Courier. In many cases, students said the mold made them sick; in many others, colleges failed to uncover and eradicate the mold until after multiple student complaints.
The reporting was prompted in part by the death of Amya Carr, a South Carolina State University senior, who died from an asthma attack in April. Her death was never officially linked to mold exposure, but dozens of mold complaints were made by other students in her dorm.
After Carr’s death, The Post and Courier reviewed nearly 4,000 pages of documents detailing 2,400 complaints of mold at colleges across the state. The Post and Courier calls the resulting investigation “the most comprehensive look to date at mold in college dorms across South Carolina,” a problem that affects college students—and professors—nationwide.
The institutions featured in the investigations include the University of South Carolina, Clemson University, Lander University, the College of Charleston and Coastal Carolina University.
Charleston received 427 reports of mold in the past two years and spent $78,000 on contracted services for mold remediation, according to reports obtained by The Post and Courier. CCU received 220 reports of mold since 2020, a phenomenon that has led students to label a common mold exposure symptom “the coastal cough.”
Some institutions, such as Clemson and Furman Universities, said the mold issues tended to be minor and caused by students turning thermostats too high or failing to properly ventilate after showers, according to the investigation; others, like Winthrop University, acknowledged that outdated HVAC systems, aging buildings and the state’s humid climate contributed to larger problems.