Photographs surfaced on social media last week showing mold in rooms at a dormitory at Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.

In an email Monday evening, Maj. Emily Grabowski, head of public affairs for the 8th Fighter Wing at Kunsan, acknowledged the photos posted Aug. 13 on the unofficial Facebook page Air Force amn/nco/snco are authentic.

Captions posted with the photos indicated one set was taken in the third floor hallway and day room in building 522 on the base, which is a dormitory. Those photos showed two couches, each with large patches of apparent mold visible from a distance, and hallway walls with widespread mold.

The second set of photographs appeared to have been taken inside someone’s dorm room, and showed mold spreading on clothing and personal items, the wall, the ceiling, the bathtub and a vent. That set’s caption also said they were taken in building 522, and that “We were told to use bleach to take care of our own mold.”

In a statement, Chief Master Sgt. Ronnie Woods, command chief of the 8th Fighter Wing, said that airmen’s quality of life is the top priority for Kunsan leadership, and he pledged to make sure they have healthy living quarters.

“Our airmen work extremely hard executing the mission,” Woods said. “We will continue to work hard to provide the healthiest environment for our personnel here at the Wolf Pack.”

“Our airmen are resilient and they are making many sacrifices being away from family and loved ones,” Woods continued. “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.”

Grabowski said that the weather at Kunsan has exacerbated the mold situation. The area around Kunsan typically has humidity of 80 percent to 100 percent, but record rainfall this year — nearly 30 inches of precipitation from mid-July to early August — has increased humidity there, she said.

“The climate here provides challenges to our quality of life, but this is a team effort and the entire Wolf Pack must be committed to eliminating the problem,” Woods said.

Grabowski said areas with high moisture volumes, such as day rooms, kitchens and bathrooms, can see mild buildup of mold, mildew or dust in normal circumstances. Those buildups are usually preventable, and can be quickly fixed with appropriate housekeeping and routine maintenance and repairs, she said.

The heating, ventilation and air conditioning equipment at Kunsan dorms also prevents most mold and moisture build-up there, Grabowski said.

Civil engineers at Kunsan immediately respond to any dorm or facility when mold is reported, Grabowski said.

Grabowski said that individual dorm rooms with humidity problems have been equipped with a dehumidifier. And the civil engineering squadron has 100 portable air conditioning units ready for airmen when the HVAC can’t keep up.

“Mold mitigation is a complete team effort and our bio-environmental engineers have been instrumental in educating the wing on mold awareness, mitigation and ways to successfully remediate,” Grabowski said.

Airmen have been instructed on ways to keep humidity down in the dorms, including by keeping doors and windows closed, running fans in bathrooms, and cleaning mold off of surfaces with household cleaners or mild bleach solutions, Grabowski said. If that doesn’t work, she said, airmen can report mold outbreaks to Kunsan by using its mobile app, or to their airman dorm leaders.

The Air Force has commonly struggled with mold outbreaks at its living facilities, particularly those in warm climates with decades-old, overpopulated dormitories and aging HVAC systems. Last year, severe mold outbreaks at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland in Texas forced the base to relocate hundreds of personnel while the base inspected and fixed moldy dorms.

Stephen Losey is the air warfare reporter for Defense News. He previously covered leadership and personnel issues at Air Force Times, and the Pentagon, special operations and air warfare at He has traveled to the Middle East to cover U.S. Air Force operations.

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