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Mold exposure in Briggs: Two students sent to ER 


COVID-19 isn’t the only thing SUNY Brockport students have to worry about this semester. Mold was discovered in several areas of a suite in Briggs Hall after two students were admitted to the emergency room (ER) for the same respiratory infection.  

One of their suitemates, SUNY Brockport sophomore Brett Kryniski, says three of his suitemates (Wyatt Chudy, Nathan Himpsill and Caleb Granger) suffer from pre-existing respiratory issues.  

“Caleb had a collapsed lung last year, Nathan has prior respiratory issues and Wyatt has asthma and sleep apnea,” Kryniski said.  

Chudy was the first in their suite to get admitted to the ER for a respiratory infection.  

“We were all collectively coming down with the same symptoms- body aches, rashes, our eyes were getting red and itchy; we were all getting very sick,” Chudy said.  

After Chudy was admitted to the ER on Oct. 3, they decided to call the Resident Director (RD) on duty.   

“We were all very sick at that point. Maintenance came by the next day and said they were going to place a dehumidifier to see if humidity was the problem. They cleaned our bathroom with bleach and white vinegar, gave us the dehumidifier and basically said, ‘Good luck,’” Kryniski said.  

Three students with pre-existing respiratory issues were exposed to bleach and white vinegar, both common triggers. What could go wrong?  

That night, Nathan went to the ER.  

Himpsill’s lungs became inflamed to the point where he couldn’t breathe on his own. He was diagnosed with an upper respiratory infection and was told that it could be caused by prolonged mold exposure.  

“Nate told us when they tested him at the ER that his oxygen was at 85%,” Kryniski said.  

To confirm their suspicions, they went back and searched their suite.  

“We kind of put two and two together and we saw that our shower was growing mold. It was coming out of the unsealed cracks in the floor, and it was just getting worse and worse,” Chudy said.  

Mold growing out of unsealed cracks in the students’ ceiling (Photo Credit: Wyatt Chudy)

After finding evidence of mold in their suite, they decided to call the Health Department.  

“The next day, Oct. 5, the maintenance supervisor, the health service member and another maintenance man came. They looked for themselves, where we showed them the signs of the mold, and told us they didn’t see anything and that we were being silly. It was really frustrating,” Kryniski said.  

While the school was taking care of the situation, a Resident Assistant (RA) recommended these students to “couch surf” for the next few days.  

“When we talked to an RA, he told us ‘There’s no emergency housing available for you guys. We recommend opening the windows and going somewhere else,’” Kryniski said. “A couple days later, we found out that Nathan’s mom and another parent were told by the college that they offered us emergency housing, but we didn’t accept. That’s not true. Nobody offered us any housing accommodations.”  

When they mentioned this to SUNY Brockport Associate Director for Operations & Finance Carl O’Conner, he told them the RA was just giving an anecdotal response to the situation as a member of the student staff.  

The five students left their suite temporarily from Oct. 4 to Oct. 7. Some stayed with their partners, while others had to sleep on the floor in their friends’ dorms.  

According to Kryniski, the university has not yet conducted a mold test, only visual inspections.  

“Starting Oct. 5 until Oct. 9 I believe they came and looked at our mold,” Kryniski said. “During that time, on Oct. 7, we noticed a lot more mold growing in our bathroom. A lady named Ms. Caswell came in and circled around all the different mold spots that were growing and said, ‘We’re going to watch these, and if they grow over a certain time, then we’ll take more precautions.’ She only came for two days,” Kryniski said.  

According to an email they received from O’Conner, SUNY Brockport Director of Environmental Health and Safety Julie Caswell was supposed to come inspect their suite daily for a week.  

“Ms. Caswell will be coming to your suite daily for the next week to complete a visual inspection for the presence of mildew or mold. When she was there this afternoon there were no visible traces,” O’Conner said.  

Mold growing on the walls of the suite in Briggs Hall (Photo Credit: Wyatt Chudy)

Although they could visibly see something growing in their bathroom, no one would confirm the presence of mildew or mold. Since the school refused to conduct proper mold testing, the five suitemates decided to purchase their own mold test.  

“They told us they can’t test the mold because there’s mold in the air and there’s no reason to test. We decided to go to Lowes to get our own anyway because we heard you could buy one there, and it has grotesquely grown since,” Chudy said.  

On Oct. 7, the Monroe County Department of Health conducted a field visit to their suite.  

“They had a plumber come by at some point, and he said that moisture could be trapped within the walls. He said it can create air bubbles in the paint which show that the moisture is getting trapped somewhere, which we did find, but they did not look for any of these signs at all,” Chudy said.  

On Oct. 13, that following week, the Health Department conducted another visit to regrout their bathroom and ceiling to seal any moisture off and advised the students to clean with bleach and white vinegar daily.  

“If I’m being completely honest, that entire visit took about 10 minutes total,” Kryniski said. “I don’t know how long regrouting takes, but I don’t think it’s supposed to be that quick. We tried to show them our mold test, hoping they’d actually take us seriously this time and he just laughed at us and told us it was mildew.”  

According to a statement released by SUNY Brockport Assistant Vice President for Communications John Follaco:   

“Earlier this month, mildew was found in several private bathrooms within Briggs Hall. Grouting issues were identified, which our facilities team has repaired. Our team has also worked with the room occupants to share best practices for cleaning their bathroom space.”  

Kryniski doesn’t believe the college is doing enough.  

“They say they have; I just don’t believe it. Two of us had to go to the ER, but according to the school, everything’s okay. It’s ridiculous. They don’t really care about our safety. I mean, we’re stuck living in a room where there’s active mildew and mold growing, and we were given no emergency housing when we were all very sick,” Kryniski said.  

Chudy agrees.  

“I feel like they were doing everything they could to kind of push this issue under the rug and act like it didn’t exist. They’re doing the bare minimum to keep this under control. It’s insane to me that they were visibly frustrated to do their job,” Chudy said.  

The college advises students to report any concerns associated with their living areas to the Facilities Service Center at (585) 395-2408. 

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Cambrie Eckert, News Editor
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