As seen in The Southeast Missourian.

Professional cleaners say that mold is a fact of life in Southeast Missouri.

There's mold everywhere. You probably have mold in your office. It's always going to be here," said Richard Hastings, the owner of Servpro, an area company that handles mold cleanup.

At Southeast Missouri State University, safety specialist Autumn Gentry says she has seen about 10 cases this semester of mold on campus, which includes mold in residence hall showers. When mold is suspected, a resident files a work order online, facilities management reviews the case and custodial staff trained in mold removal cleans the area. If the issue requires further review, Gentry is brought in and air samples are taken and sent to a lab. It takes about a week to get the results back.

She said dust is often mistaken for mold, which happens in about 90 percent of work orders placed where mold is suspected.

"So many people, when they see something that may be dust, they want you rip the carpet out and tear out walls," said Bruce Skinner, the director of Residence Life.

Mold can grow anywhere it has moisture and something to feed on, such as dirt or wood. Gentry said condensation can form inside when humidity is high.

Senior Matt Ramshaw said he moved out of his room when mold was found growing around an air vent. He and his roommate moved down the hall to a four-man suite that only had two people living in it.

He had already moved out before an air sample was taken, and even though the room has been cleaned and he has the go-ahead to move back in, he said he plans on staying where he is.

Sophomore Brianna McMaster, who lives in Towers West, said she has been feeling sick since the second week of school with a runny nose and a lump in her throat and attributes it to what she says is mold in her room. After discovering a small furry black patch on her vent, she said she removed the grating from the wall and found more black patches. The ceiling is tinted black in front of the vent and extending to the other side of the room, which staff attributed to dust, she said.

A custodial staff member came to clean it up, but McMaster said she was told the cleaning would not address the whole problem.

"She looked at our vents and said, 'I have a work order to clean your ceiling, but it's pointless because the vents are just going to keep blowing it out,'" McMaster said.

Gentry said she could not discuss specific cases, but that she knew of the issue and was waiting to hear back about air sample tests. She said that after working with a student the department does a follow-up or a resampling to see if the problem has been addressed, and that filters are changed two times a year.