East Melnitz Building closed while mold removal in progress

UCLA officials closed the East Melnitz Building this week because of nontoxic mold growth, causing numerous faculty and staff to relocate for safety reasons.

Private contractors are removing three different types of mold from within the ducts of the air system and in one of the information technology rooms in the building, which houses offices for the School of Theater, Film and Television, said Gillian Marks, program manager of environmental compliance at the UCLA Office of Environment, Health and Safety. Marks said the IT room had the “perfect temperature” for mold to grow.

Faculty and staff were asked to leave the building so workers could start removing the mold and replacing affected parts of the building on Saturday, Marks said. Though individuals may re-enter this week to collect work-related materials, the building is likely to stay closed until Monday.

The estimated cost for both the cleaning of the air handler and the removal of mold is $117,000. Workers will also remove an impacted wall in the IT room on which mold was growing, Marks said. The UCLA Facilities Management budget will fund the project.

UCLA employees learned of the mold after some of the building staff members reported allergy symptoms. In the first week of May, one staff member reported an allergic reaction, prompting UCLA Facilities Management to clean the air handler on top of the East Melnitz Building. Though workers cleaned the air duct, the employee continued reporting allergy symptoms, causing facilities workers to consider searching for mold, Marks said.

Facilities management also launched an investigation because of repeated reports of less severe allergic reactions, Marks said. Facilities Management did not immediately search for mold because many of the reported allergic reactions were minor and no doctors were contacted to find the specific allergy causes.

Marks said an information session was held on Friday for faculty and staff who had questions or concerns about the mold in the building. Other questions can be directed to the Office of Environment, Health and Safety, she added.

Compiled by Julia Raven, Bruin senior staff.

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