Brown mold does not have the same effect to homeowners as its black counterpart. Even green mold is more recognizable. People know more things about it than brown ones. This is something that has to change. Every mold color should be taken seriously. It doesn’t matter what color it is. You have to get rid of it. They can all wreak havoc inside a home. Most of them can also do damage to one’s health.
On this page:
- What is Brown Mold?
- Is Brown Mold Dangerous?
- Other Dangers of Mold
- What Causes Brown Mold?
- Types of Brown Mold
- How to Control Mold
- How to Control Mold
- How to Remove Mold
What is Brown Mold?Types that have this color fall under the genus Cladosporium. It’s very common outdoors. You’ve seen it on leaves of plants. Unfortunately, it can also be found inside a home. It’s usually hiding behind walls and in the insulation. If you leave a carpet wet and damp, it will grow there too. Just like most types, it can also be found in damp areas like the bathroom. It’s not as dangerous as say, black mold. However, it can still be dangerous especially to those allergic to its spores, with it being allergenic in nature. It can infect your eyes, skin and sinus. In worst case scenarios, it can also infect your brain.
What It Looks LikeIt’s brown for starters. Types under this color can also appear as tan or dark yellow. Generally speaking, they can be identified easily because they appear to be dark patches on wood. However, it can be confusing sometimes because it will sometimes appear as black to the naked eye. A look under the microscope will tell you that it is indeed brown. A test will also tell you that. This is not recommended to be done by any homeowner because handling it can be dangerous. It looks like hair. Yes, it can be hairy and fuzzy. This is particularly true for the Stemonitis type.
Is Brown Mold Dangerous?Being an allergenic, it’s not as toxic as the dreaded black mold. It’s also not dangerous if you’re perfectly healthy and you’re not going to ingest a huge amount. With that being said, it can be considered if one of these factors comes into play:
- You’re allergic to spores or you’re suffering from a respiratory illness.
- You’re going to ingest or come in contact with a huge amount of the spores.
- Upper respiratory tract symptoms
- Difficulty breathing
- Loss of memory
Other Dangers of MoldHere are the other dangers in addition to the negative health effects:
- It destroys your house.
- It’s unpleasant to look at.
- It smells.
- It affects your sleep.
What Causes Brown Mold?The first thing that you have to know is it’s everywhere. It’s been this way for millions of years. They’ve survived, thrived, and show no signs that they’re going away soon. This is because they only need 3 things to grow and survive. They need a food source, the right temperature and moisture. Now, your home probably has the first 2. It has a food source in the nutrients that are aplenty on wooden surfaces. For the temperature, it prefers warmth and humidity. Most homes have around 70 degrees Fahrenheit indoor temperature which is perfect. Luckily, you can control the last requirement which is moisture. Unfortunately, a lot of homeowners don’t do routine maintenance and checkup. They miss things like a leaking roof and busted pipes. Things like these will introduce moisture into your home. Your home now has the trifecta that’s needed.
Types of Brown MoldThere are 10 common types. While they share the same color or hue, they can differ on how they affect people and how they look like. Some look like hair. One looks like dirt. Others may look powdery. Read on to know more about them.
PithomycesThis type is usually found outdoors. It grows on soil. There are over 40 species that fall under this type. They thrive with dead leaves as their preferred food source. They can also be found on grass. It’s not common indoors, although they can still grow and thrive given the perfect conditions. Paper is their preferred surface area, although they’ve been spotted on mattresses, tiles and carpets as well. This type looks like cotton. Its brown color can be dark or pale. Looking at it under the microscope will reveal its different shapes. It can be shaped like a club or a barrel. It can also be ellipsoid. As for the health effects, it’s been known to cause allergies and its symptoms.
Stachybotrys chartarumIt’s more popularly known as black mold. Yes, it’s the notorious toxic black mold. It produces mycotoxins. While these mostly affect animals especially swine, they’ve been known to be toxic to humans as well. While mostly black in nature, we’re also including it in this article because it can sometimes be dark brown. This is why it’s important that you familiarize yourself with it. Identifying it will usually start with smelling it. Yes, you’ll smell it first before you see it. While most molds have a musty and earth-like smell, Stachybotrys chartarum has a stronger smell than most of them. It loves wetter areas so a flood will jumpstart it. It will start growing on drywall. You may also find it on cardboard, wicker and the likes. It can be identified by its slimy appearance which is consistent with its preference for wet environments. In some cases, it looks powdery. It has the same health effects as the other types but it’s more toxic. It will lead to more chronic symptoms at the very least. In fact, it can even cause a condition called black mold poisoning.
AureobasidiumThis is another allergenic type which means that it’s usually not toxic although its health effects can really affect the quality of one’s life. A lot of homeowners become surprised when they see it hiding behind their wallpaper where it usually thrives. Just like most types, it also feeds on nutrients of wooden surfaces so it can also be found there. It’s not always brown. While it will eventually turn dark brown as it ages, it can be brown, black or even pink when it’s just starting. It’s notorious for how it infects humans. It can infect the eyes and nails. It can also cause a skin infection called dermatitis. This means that you shouldn’t touch it.
StemonitisIt’s characterized by its spores enclosed in sporangia that are chocolate brown in color. It’s one of the fastest types to grow. It can develop, sporangia and all, within 24 hours. It’s also slimy to look at. It’s obviously slimy to the touch, although don’t touch it to confirm. Just take our word for it.
BipolarisThis is another dark-colored type that can be brown or black and is composed of filaments. It can cause phaeohyphomycosis that can attack the eyes, skin, and even the brain. This is a very common type found all over the world. It has historical significant wherein it’s been held responsible for regional famines, including India’s Bengal famine in the early 1940s wherein the bipolaris inflicted a disease on the region’s rice supply. This should give you a good idea as to how it can be devastating.
CladosporiumThis is one of the most common types not just outdoors but indoors as well. While some can be olive green or black, they can also be brown in color. Their spores are in the air that we breathe outdoors. The fungus itself mostly lives off on plants. Indoors, it can grow and thrive on any surface where there’s moisture. This type is mostly allergenic but it can be pathogenic as well. But in most cases, its health effects are limited to asthma and other respiratory illnesses. However, it’s been known to cause skin and nails infection as well. Worse cases have been reported wherein it has infected the lungs and sinuses. It’s also important to note that it’s a known producer of volatile organic compounds.
TaeniolellaThis is often confused with Annellophora since the two are closely related. Taeniolella is dark brown in color, although it can also be black in color. It’s also shiny to look at. Just like the Annellophora, it can also be found indoors on wooden areas and indoor plants.
ChaetomiumThere are a lot of species under this genus. It’s been estimated that there are close to a hundred species. They’re mostly outdoors, living in the soil and debris of dead plants. Fortunately, only a few of them have been proven to be harmful to humans. Unfortunately, these species can prove to be very dangerous. As a whole, chaetomium can be considered toxic. The globosum species is known to infect the nails with onychomycosis. It can also lead to a rare skin infection called subcutaneous phaeohyphomycosis. It usually starts as white in color and is cottony in appearance. As it matures, the color turns olive green or olive brown.
AlternariaMostly black in color, alternaria can also be olivaceous-black which for some people can be brown to look at. It looks soft and velvety. Sometimes, it looks as if it’s covered by wool. It’s pathogenic in plants, but widely-considered to be allergenic in humans. It can lead to hay fever or asthma. People suffering from a compromised immune system are at risk.
How to Control MoldOutside our own homes, mold can be considered good. It serves good purposes among nature. It also saves lives since it’s needed in making penicillin. Unfortunately, these benefits come with disadvantages. This is especially true if it grows inside your home. The thing with mold is it will affect you from day one and by the time you discover it, it have been affecting your quality of life for quite some time already. Prevention is better than cure, as they say, and this is why you have to know how to control mold. Here are some prevention tips:
- Check your home for holes, cracks and other damage.
- Wipe and dry the wet areas in your home.
- Provide proper ventilation, air flow and humidity.
How to Control MoldYou already know the dangers of mold. So why would you remove it on your own? While an experienced DIYer can do it, it’s generally not a good idea for most homeowners to do it. If you insist, here’s how you can remove a small infestation:
- Protect yourself. Wear clothes that you can throw away after the task. Wear gloves, goggles, and an N-95 respirator.
- Position a throwaway box fan by an open window. Tape cardboard around it to ensure that there’s no open space where the spores can be blown back in. You need to throw away this box fan once you’re done.
- Start with a natural remover. Mix 2 tablespoons of borax with a quarter cup of white vinegar and 2 cups of hot water. Use a spray bottle to apply it on the infestation.
- If that doesn’t work, use a bleach solution. Mix a quarter cup of bleach with 2 cups of warm water. As an important note, don’t mix this solution with any other cleaning solution. To be safe, don’t use it immediately before or after using another cleaning solution. Use a spray bottle to apply it on the infestation.