Drinking water comes with a variety of mineral contaminants. These can include calcium, magnesium, manganese, and so on.

You may be thinking, aren’t these all minerals that are good for our health?

Yes, they are! These minerals aid the human body in one way or the other. However, elevated levels of manganese in drinking water can be a major concern.

Learn more about manganese in drinking water, its effects, and how you can keep yourself safe. Let’s begin!

Table of Contents

What is Manganese?

Manganese is a mineral that does not occur as a pure or free element in nature. It is usually found in a combined form with iron. In the human body, it is essential in metabolism as well as various other chemical processes. In industries, it is utilized in the manufacturing of iron and steel alloys, glass, fireworks, fertilizers, varnish, cosmetics, and so on.

Manganese is found in several foods that we consume, such as nuts, legumes, whole grains, and leafy green vegetables. It is also added to many dietary supplements. Similarly, it is found in drinking water as well – both tap water and well water. This added concentration of manganese can have many side-effects.

What are Some of the Effects of Manganese?

Since manganese is found in so many foods that we consume daily, we know that it can be an essential mineral at low doses. However, we cannot control the level of manganese that may have seeped into our drinking water.

High exposure of manganese in drinking water has been associated with causing neurological problems in infants and children. These problems can include behavior, speech and memory difficulties, lower IQ, lack of coordination, and so on.

Younger children are more likely to absorb this manganese than older age groups. Drinking this water has also been associated with incurring a syndrome that resembles Parkinson’s. For this reason, clean water is especially vital for pregnant women and children.

Drinking water with high levels of manganese can have a metallic taste to it. This water can also leave unwanted black stains on your showers, toilets, plumbing systems, and even your laundry.

How Can I Check if there is Manganese in my Drinking Water?

The first sign of manganese in your water supply should be the stains. If you are noticing any unexplained black stains around your faucets, sinks, or in your laundry, chances are your water has elevated levels of manganese. Similarly, if your drinking water suddenly has a bitter and metallic taste to it, it could be pointing to excessive manganese.

If any of the above signs make you suspect that your drinking water contains higher than the regulated amounts of manganese, you should get your water tested. Make sure you get the testing done by a state-certified laboratory.

What is the Safe Level of Manganese in Drinking Water?

According to the National Secondary Drinking Water Regulations, your drinking water should not have more than 0.05 mg/L of manganese. In Canada, the maximum acceptable concentration (MAC) for manganese has been set to 0.12 mg/L. This is considered to be the Action Level and is meant to act as a safety margin. If your test results show levels higher than this, then it can be a matter of concern.

How do you Remove Manganese from Water?

Many of the current water filtration methods are known to be effective at removing manganese from your water supply. You can opt for distillation, filtration, reverse osmosis, and also some water softening methods.

Manganese is found most commonly in combination with iron. However, it oxidizes much more slowly. This property makes manganese challenging to remove. The method you choose in removing manganese depends on the concentration.

For lower levels of manganese, you can simply use a water softener. For higher concentrations, you might need to use water filters with oxidizing filters. For extremely high levels of manganese, you will need to perform chemical oxidation along with filtration. You need to ensure that whichever water treatment system you choose is properly certified.

Typically, these treatment options are installed at the point-of-entry for your water supply. However, you can also choose to install them directly at the point-of-use, i.e., faucets. Boiling water has been associated with increasing manganese concentration, so it would not be useful if you simply boil water before drinking it.

In Summary,

Manganese is a mineral that is commonly found in many of the foods that we consume. In moderated levels, it can be vital to many of our body’s processes. However, higher levels have been known to have side-effects, especially for children. In order to keep your water supply safe, you can opt for a certified water purification system.

(Last Updated on June 17, 2020 by Sadrish Dabadi)

Nina Howell is a Rewenable Energy researcher and consultant based out of Houston, Texas Area. She earned her Master's Degree in Energy and Earth Resources from Austin Jackson School of Geosciences in 2010, and a Bachelor's Degree in Environmental Science from State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry in 2008. Nina has been working in the energy sector since 2011. She worked as an Energy Supply Analyst from 2011 to 2017 in Bounce Energy and then as a Research and Energy Consultant at GE Renewable Energy from March 2017 to February 2020 . Nina is a mom of 2 beautiful children who are joy to her life. She strongly believes in eco-friendly living and is vocal about renewable energy, environmental issues, water crisis, and sustainable living.