Windows in UM Dorms are Sealed for Health Reasons

One of the joys of living in a temperate climate is the ability to open up the window and enjoy some fresh air – unless those windows are locked at all times.

The rooms in Mahoney/Pearson and Eaton Residential Colleges, which were redesigned with sealed windows eight to 10 years ago, are constantly locked in order to reduce mold and improve air quality, said Robert J. Redick, director of Residence Halls.

Students from these dorms often complain that they cannot open the windows to get proper ventilation, Redick said.

“You can’t get fresh air in your room,” said Andres Nunez, a junior and Pearson resident. “It feels like a jail.”

However, according to a study by a team from the University of Miami’s medical campus, the indoor air in Mahoney/Pearson and Eaton was found to be healthier than the outdoor air, Redick said. Sealing the windows and filtering the outside air through air conditioners reduces pollen and pollutants.

Mold, he said, is a bigger problem. In a humid, tropical climate like that of Miami, mold often appears in cool, air-conditioned buildings where the moisture is allowed to seep in through open windows. Mold thrives in cold, damp conditions, so if moist outdoor air was to combine with the chilled air of the hallways and dorm rooms, it would create a perfect habitat.

Senior Eaton resident Elvis George said that the lack of outdoor ventilation can be suffocating.

“The main problem is air circulation,” George said. “When there’s an odor in the room, like dirty clothes or shoes, or the bathroom smells, you can’t open the window so it gets trapped in the room.”

But Redick said that opening a window to get odors out will only get mold in, causing worse odors.

“I would recommend people to do their laundry more often,” he said.

Hecht and Stanford have lots of problems with mold since the towers have opening windows. Reddick said there are plans to seal these windows as well.