Opening Buildings at Colorado State University More Complicatedthan Swinging Doors Open

The decision to open buildings on campus is based on inspections and on the moisture content of affected buildings, said Bill Wheeler from Colorado State University’s Environmental Health Services. After a building is cleaned up by recovery services, inspection teams from Colorado State go in and check the building, and do follow-up confirmation samples on mold and bacteria levels. Inspection teams include the following:

  • Custodians, who make visual inspections to make sure carpets and furniture have been adequately cleaned or removed. Custodians also make inspections to see if there is any visible evidence of bacteria and mold growth.
  • Engineers, who make sure buildings are structurally sound.
  • Maintenance crews, who make sure water, sewer, power and other utilities are functioning properly.

The moisture content of buildings is a crucial factor in determining whether a building is safe to open, Wheeler said. If the moisture content is below 50 percent, then buildings are considered safe, as long as mold and bacteria mitigation has been successful. Follow-up tests are run to confirm that bacteria and mold levels are controlled.

Inspection crews are trained to look not only at obvious problems, but hidden areas where bacteria might fester. For example, bottom molding in rooms is removed, if necessary, to expose damp carpeting. The carpet then is either dried or removed. Inspection crews take samples from ceilings, floors, work surfaces and other areas to ensure that mold and bacteria are within acceptable levels. Air samples are taken, too, for the same reason, and to test for moisture content.

Although a building may re-open, some areas of that building may still be off-limits, Wheeler said. However, any building that opens is considered structurally safe, and mold and bacteria are within acceptable limits.

Water tests are more or less continuous throughout the process of working on affected buildings, Wheeler said.

For more information, call Bill Wheeler at 491-4833.