The 8th Fighter Wing addressed concerns about the condition of dormitories at Kunsan Air Base, South Korea, after anonymous footage appearing to show mold, mildew, and/or water damage in two of these buildings was recently posted by the popular, but unofficial, “Air Force amn/nco/snco” Facebook page.
One post contained a photo of a thermostat showing a temperature of 89 degrees Fahrenheit in a dorm (due to broken air conditioning), and appeared to show mold or mildew climbing the wall behind an Airman’s bed in Building 522.
Another appeared to show visible signs of mold, mildew, and/or water damage on the same dorm’s hallway walls and day room furniture.
And a third post from the same building appeared to show mold or mildew that accumulated on the ceilings and around a bathroom faucet in one Airman’s dorm, as well as on their personal belongings.
But Building 522 wasn’t the only dorm implicated in the footage. A video shared by the page that was allegedly shot in a stairwell of Building 504 also appears to depict moisture-related building issues.
In response to questions from Air Force Magazine, wing spokesperson Maj. Emily C. Grabowski said Kunsan’s climate has been more humid than normal—a condition that can exasperate moisture-related building issues— but these problems tend to be manageable.
“The typical 80-100-percent humidity on the peninsula has been exaggerated by record rainfall this year, with almost 30 inches of precipitation from mid-July to early August,” she wrote in an Aug. 18 email. “That being said, mild mold, mildew or dust buildup may occasionally be found in areas that have high volumes of moisture (day rooms, kitchens, and bathrooms), but is generally preventable and quickly remedied with appropriate housekeeping, as well as routine maintenance and repairs.”
Grabowski said the wing is fighting the moisture-related issues in the following ways:
- HVAC systems in dorms use “continuous airflow and temperature management” to inhibit mold and moisture from building up within them.
- Each dorm has its own dehumidifier.
- The 8th Fighter Wing keeps “100 portable air conditioning units” on reserve in case HVAC systems fall short.
- Airman may report dorm-related issues via a smartphone application.
- They may also reach out “directly to Airmen Dorm Leaders who will closely monitor and track” their concerns “to resolution,” she wrote.
- Civil engineers from the wing instantly address any building problems that are reported—dorms included.
- Bioenvironmental engineers from the wing have taught Airmen how to be aware of, reduce the severity of, and successfully eradicate mold. “Some tips provided to our Airmen include how to combat humidity by keeping doors and windows closed, running fans in bathrooms, and cleaning mold off of surfaces with household cleaners or mild bleach solutions,” Grabowski noted.
And while Chief Master Sgt. Ronnie Woods, the wing’s command chief, acknowledged the base’s local climate is challenging to the Wolf Pack’s quality of life, he said the whole wing needs to be part of the solution.
“Our Airmen are resilient and they are making many sacrifices being away from family and loved ones,” he said in an Aug. 18 statement to Air Force Magazine. “It’s important we work diligently to ensure our 24 dorms are clean and free of defects so they have a comfortable place to relax, communicate with family, and recharge.”
In February 2019, Kunsan dorms were part of an Air Force Secretary-and Chief of Staff-directed military housing review, a wing release said.
However, Air Force spokesperson Ann M. Stefanek told Air Force Magazine last August that no mold or moisture issues were discovered at Kunsan during spot checks performed at the base.
Editor’s Note: This story was updated on Aug. 18 at 10:05 a.m. EDT to correct Grabowski’s rank.