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Mold found in UNC-Chapel Hill student housing complex will take weeks to clean up

A mold outbreak in a popular student housing complex in Chapel Hill will take weeks to clean, UNC officials said Friday, and will require removing residents for short stays at downtown hotels.

The mold issue affects the heating and air systems in multiple units of Granville Towers, a private off-campus complex for UNC students. Approximately 1,200 residents are impacted, Terry Rhodes, interim dean of UNC’s College of Arts and Sciences, said in an emailed statement Friday. Of those, 900 are in their first semester of college.

Granville Towers opened in 1964 as private student housing and is owned by The UNC Foundation, the university fundraising arm. Located just off Franklin Street, the complex has three towers housing about 1,300 students, according to its website, meaning the mold issues are affecting nearly all of the residents.

(This story has been updated to reflect the correct number of buildings at Granville Towers, which is three).

In an email, university officials said the mold was found in HVAC units, but didn’t disclose how the issue was discovered. According to WRAL, students complained of health problems, such as headaches and respiratory issues.

In an email to residents, the general manager of Granville Towers, Clayton Hayer, said tests done by an outside contractor found seven types of mold that are common in areas with condensation. Hayer said rooms would be outfitted with Hepafilter Air Scrubbers until remediation work can be done.

While the rooms are treated, Rhodes said, “several dozen” students at a time will be moved to nearby Chapel Hill boutique hotels. Students will spend two nights in either the Carolina Inn, The Franklin or the AC Marriott.

Hayer told residents the cleanup should be done by late this month; Rhodes said it could take until early November.

Given the disruption for students in their first academic semester, Rhodes said school officials are taking steps to help.

“Granville Towers, collaborating with Student Affairs and other campus partners, is working to minimize the personal and academic disruption for students,” she wrote in an email to faculty and staff. “We do not expect a significant academic impact, but are making you aware so that you can support students who may be affected.”

Hayer said some students exposed to mold could experience symptoms such as nasal stuffiness, irritated eyes or skin and wheezing, while some could have more serious problems, such as fever or shortness of breath. He urged students with symptoms to contact Student Health Services.

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Drew Jackson writes about restaurants and dining for The News & Observer and The Herald-Sun, covering the food scene in the Triangle and North Carolina.
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