Shane Rogers will spend this summer touring some of New York State’s most haunted buildings. But it’s not ghosts he’s looking for. Rogers, a professor of Civil & Environmental Engineering at Clarkson University, is hunting for mold.
“I’ve had an interest in ghost stories and paranormal exploration and shows and other things for a long time,” Rogers told mental_floss. “Back in grad school watching these shows I thought, ‘Jeez, some of these places they’re going into are pretty dingy and moldy. I wonder if there’s some kind of a connection.’”
Indeed, recent research hints at a potential link between certain toxic molds and symptoms like “movement disorders, delirium, dementia, and disorders of balance and coordination,” which could account for the visions and overall “creepy” feelings that often accompany reports of paranormal activity. But the evidence is scarce, so Rogers is setting out with a group of undergraduates to investigate further.
"Hauntings are very widely reported phenomena that are not well-researched," Rogers says. "They are often reported in older-built structures that may also suffer poor air quality. Similarly, some people have reported depression, anxiety and other effects from exposure to biological pollutants in indoor air. We are trying to determine whether some reported hauntings may be linked to specific pollutants found in indoor air."
The team will travel the state gathering air quality samples from spooky spots like the Frederic Remington Art Museum in Ogdensburg. By comparing the samples from reportedly haunted locations to those from ghost-free zones, they’re hoping to find commonalities that might demonstrate a link between mold and perceived paranormal activity.
"What I do hope is that we can provide some real clues as to what may lead to some of these phenomena and possibly help people in the process," he says.