CofC investigating claims of dirty air vents making students sick


The College of Charleston is inspecting rooms inside of McAlister Residence Hall after receiving complaints of dust and mold inside the vents making students sick.

Several students living in the residence hall say most of their roommates have been suffering from illness that they believe is a result of material inside air vents.

"You can see everything," McAlister Hall resident Margaux Fox said. "Everyone is getting sick. I have a sinus infection. I had to go to the doctor because my eyes are red all the time."

On Wednesday, a representative from the College of Charleston sent a notice to students about the inspections.

"Our facilities team has been conducting a systematic room inspection the past week and a half and have been working to clean out ductwork and replace vents, when appropriate," Executive Vice President for Student Affairs Alicia Caudill said. "Our Office of Environmental Health and Safety has been conducting tests throughout the residence hall, and initial reports indicate that the air quality is well within acceptable levels."

But many students said the majority of their neighbors in the residence hall are suffering from dirty air vents.

"My immediate roommate has been coughing since the beginning of school now," McAlister Hall resident Jack Sutton said. "He's had a cold basically, but it's not regular symptoms."

Several students said the work from crews has caused water and air conditioning to be turned off at times, which has made it difficult to live comfortably.

"They sent out an email that was like dust may be coming out of your vents, don't be alarmed by it," McAlister Hall resident Megan Cox said. "And I'm like, well, that's kind of alarming, I'm obviously going to be alarmed by it."

Caudill also said the reason so many students may be sick is because of the typical uptick in sickness seen at the beginning of each school year.

"Typically, at the beginning of the school year, we see a slight uptick in colds, allergies and sickness among our student population because everyone is coming back together in close quarters and new students are adjusting to Charleston's tropical climate," Caudill said.

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