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Mold in Helm forces students to relocate

January 28, 2022

Amira Oguntoyinbo
Mold Madness: Helm residents need to find a new place to live by early next week.

After COVID-19 forced a lockdown for the residents of Helmreich House during Sophomore Bootcamp, residents have until the middle of next week to move out due to mold found in the House’s basement and first floor. Residential Life is helping to provide accommodation for students with vacancies throughout campus.

It will take time to address these concerns, and although the repairs may take until May, administrators are hopeful that Helmreich House residents will be able to move back in before the end of the semester, Senior Vice President and Dean for Student Affairs Janet Lohmann wrote in an email to the Orient.
“Mold samples were collected from the basement and the first-floor common rooms on [January 26] by our contractor, Air Quality Management Services, Inc. The results from these samples are still pending,” Director of Environmental Health and Safety Charly Wojtysiak wrote in an email to the Orient.

Testing began after Emma Cahill ’24, a programming chair for Helmreich House, requested that the house be searched for mold after speaking with an allergist at home.

Cahill reported new allergies after moving into the house in the fall. After a semester of feeling unwell, her mother convinced her to speak with an allergy doctor.

“I was basically constantly sick for the entire semester. I went to the Health Center maybe six times, and a lot of other people in my house were also sick, too, including my roommate,” Cahill said. “My mom wanted me to see an allergist because she knew Helmreich is the oldest College House.”

Helmreich House’s basement is largely unused and includes three single bedrooms and the laundry area. The other half of the basement is sequestered from students ­and is where Bowdoin Facilities and its contractors confirmed evidence of mold.

“The closed-off portions of the basement at Helmreich show evidence of water intrusion which could have caused high humidity levels and damp conditions suitable for mold growth,” Wojtysiak wrote.

Now, Facilities and ResLife are working together to address the situation.

“When mold is found, we work with our contractors to determine the scope of the issue. This is where we are now. We are working within the Bowdoin Facilities group to address any building issues that would have contributed to the basement conditions supporting mold growth while also working with our contractors to review sampling data when it is received and set the full scope for clean-up and remediation,” Wokysiak wrote.

Editor’s note 01/28/2022 at 11:08 a.m. EDT: A previous version of this article mistakenly reported that the mold related repairs would force Helmreich House relocation for the rest of the semester. This article has been updated to reflect that the repairs may last through the semester, but an official end date has not yet been issued.

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