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Former Loyola grad student says school’s alleged mold made her sick

A former graduate student at Loyola University Chicago is suing the university, claiming alleged mold in the air at a laboratory building made her so sick she had to drop out.

In her suit Monday, Dawn Kissack said she began a PhD program in the university’s chemistry department in August 2009, and came down with respiratory problems about a month later.

She claims she also felt light-headed and fatigued, and noticed her symptoms grew worse as she spent time in Flanner Hall, according to the suit filed in Cook County Circuit Court.

Kissack claims her illness became so severe she could not keep her grades up. She lost her scholarships as a result, forcing her to drop out of the program.

The suit claims Loyola University knew about a mold problem in the building and hired a company in July of 2010 that found high concentrations of Aspergillus and Penicillium molds, as well as other molds.

Those molds are commonly found indoors and do not always cause health problems but at least one study found they can provoke respiratory problems in otherwise healthy people, according to the Centers for Disease Control. People with chronic lung problems or weakened immune systems are most at risk for developing symptoms.

The suit claims mold continued to grow in Flanner Hall despite remediation work aimed at cleaning it out.

An engineering firm’s assessment in 2011 found the ventilation system was out of date and poorly maintained, and the building’s chronically leaky roof let rainwater seep in to walls and floors — all of which contributed to the mold problem that make Kissack sick, according to the suit.

The 36-year-old academic building houses research labs, classrooms and faculty offices.

The university could not be reached for comment.

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