Mold comes in all shapes, sizes, and colors. You’ve likely heard of the infamous black mold, but orange mold is also fairly common. At first glance, orange mold may seem harmless. However, some varieties can be quite dangerous if left unchecked.
This guide will cover everything you need to know about orange mold. Soon you’ll be well equipped to identify, address, and prevent hazardous orange mold in your living spaces.
There are hundreds of mold species and many present in orange hues. While some orange molds are harmless, others pose serious health risks. This article takes an in-depth look at different types of orange mold, where they grow, their health effects, and how to address them properly.
What Is Orange Mold?
Orange mold refers to a variety of mold species that produce orange, rusty, yellow, or golden spores and colonies. It thrives in damp areas and grows well on cellulose-based materials like wood, drywall, cardboard, and paper.
Unlike the fuzzy texture of many molds, orange mold is often slimy or powdery. It can appear as small circular spots that eventually spread into larger colonies. An earthy, musty odor may also indicate its presence.
Orange mold grows both indoors and outdoors. Common outdoor sources are decomposing leaves, mulch, soil, and rotting wood. Indoors, it flourishes in humid areas like basements, bathrooms, attics, and kitchens.
Prolonged moisture is the key factor allowing orange mold to propagate. Leaks, flooding, high humidity, and poor ventilation all promote growth. It can rapidly colonize porous surfaces, spreading behind walls and under materials.
Types of Orange Mold and Their Health Risks
Many types of mold can appear orange, with varying levels of toxicity. Some of the most common orange molds include:
Acremonium mold is a frequent indoor species. It thrives in damp areas with poor airflow. Acremonium forms slimy colonies in shades of orange, pink, yellow, and brown.
This mold is considered quite dangerous for humans. It can cause respiratory infections and worsen underlying lung disease. Those with weakened immune systems are at highest risk of infection. Rarely, it can lead to meningitis, endocarditis, and fungal sepsis.
Aspergillus is one of the most ubiquitous mold genera worldwide. It flourishes indoors and outdoors, adapting to various environments. Some species produce airborne toxins called mycotoxins.
Aspergillus colonies are typically greenish at first but later turn yellow, brown, or orange. In particular, Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus fumigatus generate harmful mycotoxins that can cause liver damage, cancer, and other serious conditions.
Epicoccum mold is a widespread outdoor species that also grows indoors. It rapidly colonizes building materials, releasing spores into indoor air that can cause allergic reactions.
Epicoccum produces orange, brown, yellow, red, or black spores. Exposure aggravates respiratory issues like asthma and chronic allergies. Those with sensitivities may develop irritated eyes, runny nose, coughing, and skin rashes.
Fuligo septica is a type of slime mold, not a true fungus. Its spores and yellowish growth can nevertheless trigger allergies and asthma symptoms in sensitive individuals. Outside, it coats plant debris and mulch.
Fuligo septica is also called “dog vomit slime mold” due to its vomit-like appearance. During its plasmodium phase, it oozes across surfaces engulfing organic matter. Though not highly toxic, it can be a nuisance when found indoors.
A distinctly cold-loving mold is Geomyces pannorum. It thrives in temperatures from 39-68°F, making it a frequent culprit of moldy refrigerators, freezers, and cold storage rooms.
Geomyces produces circular yellow or orange colonies with a powdery texture. It can contribute to poor indoor air quality and allergy issues if airborne spores are inhaled regularly.
Trichia varia is a slime mold that inhabits decaying logs and forest soil. During its plasmodium phase, it may spread across wood as an orange slime mold before forming sporocarps.
Though not indoor air quality concern, Trichia varia and its spores can act as outdoor allergens for sensitive individuals. Removing infested mulch, leaves, or wood helps reduce exposure.
Signs of Orange Mold in Your Home
Suspect orange mold may be lurking if you notice:
- Musty, earthy odor
- Orange, yellow, pink, or rust-colored spots
- Slimy or powdery texture (rather than fuzz)
- Peeling paint or soft, crumbly drywall
- Warped wood materials, cracking paint
- Moisture on surfaces, leaks, high indoor humidity
- Health symptoms like wheezing, runny nose, headaches
Take mold growth seriously, even if it seems minor. Left unchecked, colonies can rapidly expand into a large problem behind walls and ceilings. Act quickly at the first signs of orange mold.
Dangers and Toxicity Concerns
Mold toxicity depends on several factors:
- Mold type: Some orange molds produce mycotoxins, while others do not. Toxic black mold is most hazardous.
- Extent of growth: More mold means higher exposure to spores and mold byproducts. Over 10 square feet often requires professional remediation.
- Duration of exposure: Long-term contact with mold raises health risks rather than brief exposures.
- Individual susceptibility: Those with asthma, allergies, or compromised immunity are most vulnerable to effects.
In general, potential health effects include:
- Worsening of asthma and respiratory diseases
- Coughing, wheezing, chest tightness
- Nasal congestion, eye irritation, sneezing
- Rashes, hives
- Headaches, fatigue, memory issues
- With toxic black mold, much more severe effects are possible
Young children, elderly, pregnant women, and those recovering from illness or surgery should take extra precautions around orange mold. Seek medical attention for unexplained health issues potentially linked to mold exposure.
Testing for Orange Mold
If you suspect orange mold growth in your home, contact a professional to conduct testing before removal. This confirms which mold species are present and helps assess the extent of infestation.
Common orange mold testing methods include:
- Air sampling – Collects mold spores floating in the air
- Surface sampling – Takes small material samples to culture in a lab
- Tape lift testing – Uses clear tape to collect mold spores on surfaces
- Infrared scanning – Detects moisture and mold growth behind walls or under materials
A combination of methods often provides the most accurate analysis. Be sure to hire a qualified mold inspector familiar with identifying various mold species. Testing reports should specify the types and concentrations found.
Armed with testing results, you can then make informed decisions about orange mold removal and take measures to protect vulnerable household members.
Removing Orange Mold Safely
When tackling any mold issue, safety should be the top priority. Spores can easily spread during the remediation process, potentially worsening the problem. Use precautions like wearing an N95 respirator, gloves, and goggles.
For small orange mold growth limited to non-porous surfaces like tile or metal, you may attempt DIY cleaning:
- Mix water and detergent or vinegar solution
- Scrub to remove mold and soak for 10-15 minutes
- Dry thoroughly to discourage regrowth
However, for larger infestations or growth inside porous materials, professional mold remediation is strongly recommended. Qualified companies have specialized tools like:
- Vacuums with HEPA filtration to safely contain spores
- Chemical biocides that kill mold at roots
- Access to personal protective equipment
- Infrared cameras to identify hidden moisture
- Containment barriers to isolate affected rooms from the rest of the home
Remediators can also determine whether affected drywall, insulation, carpeting, or other porous materials need complete removal. They have extensive experience working safely and efficiently to rid your home of mold.
Pro tip: Always hire an experienced mold contractor rather than a general handyman or carpet cleaner. Ensure they follow guidelines from organizations like the EPA and IICRC. Ask about licensing, certifications, and liability insurance.
Preventing Future Orange Mold Growth
Stopping orange mold in its tracks requires eliminating excess moisture. Make these preventive measures part of your home maintenance routine:
- Fix plumbing leaks and water intrusion issues quickly. Don’t let water persist.
- Maintain low indoor humidity – ideally between 30-50%. Dehumidifiers can help regulate moisture.
- Ensure proper ventilation in damp areas like bathrooms through vents or open windows.
- Clean spills and wet spots thoroughly with a disinfectant. Prevent mold from gaining a foothold.
- Discard or replace porous materials susceptible to water damage.
- Address runoff and drainage issues outside the home to keep basements and crawl spaces dry.
With vigilance and prompt action, you can keep hazardous orange mold from taking hold in your living spaces. Create an environment inhospitable to fungal growth.
Orange mold comprises various fungal species that present health risks in some circumstances. While certain types are benign, others generate mycotoxins or act as triggers for those with sensitivities.
Indoors, orange mold colonizes damp, humid areas of the home where cellulose-based materials provide a food source. It can damage structures and pose inhalation hazards to occupants.
Through professional mold testing and removal, you can eliminate hazardous orange mold and restore healthy indoor air. Keep moisture under control and address any growth before it gets out of hand.
With knowledge and vigilance, orange mold doesn’t have to put your family’s well-being at risk. Maintain your living spaces properly and don’t hesitate to call in the experts when needed.
Frequently Asked Questions
What does orange mold smell like?
Orange mold has a distinctly musty, earthy smell. The odor tends to become stronger as colonies expand. A pervasive moldy smell indicates a sizable infestation.
Can you paint over orange mold?
Never attempt to paint over orange mold. The colonies will continue growing under the paint. Always remove mold properly before cosmetic repairs. Painting over mold simply hides the problem temporarily while allowing it to worsen.
Does orange mold grow on skin?
Some mold species can infect skin, but orange mold does not commonly cause topical infections. However, its spores may lead to skin irritation through contact. Wear gloves and long sleeves when handling items covered in orange mold.
What temperature does orange mold grow best?
Like other molds, orange varieties thrive in warmer conditions between 40-100°F. Ideal growth occurs around 70-90°F. Providing mold spores with moisture allows growth even in colder temperatures above freezing.
Can you get sick from touching orange mold?
Touching orange mold does not directly make you ill. However, physical contact can potentially cause skin irritation in those with sensitivities. Breathing in spores is the primary health hazard, especially for immunocompromised individuals. Wear proper PPE when handling mold to avoid touching it.