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chemical element

What Is Manganese?

Manganese is a metallic element with an atomic number of 25 and the chemical symbol Mn. Manganese cannot be found in the natural world in its elemental form, but is often found in mineral deposits along with iron. The name Manganese is an anglicization of the Latin word for magnet, magnes. Manganese has a very high melting point, staying in a solid state until heated to more than 1246 degrees Celsius.

Manganese was discovered in 1774 by Johan Gottlieb Gahn, a Swedish chemist who heated the compound pyrolusite (MnO2) using charcoal in order to separate manganese into its elemental form. In order to obtain manganese today most methods still require the use of pyrolusite, though modern methods call for the compound to be heated in a furnace with aluminum. Manganese can also be formed by treating pyrolusite with sulfuric acid.

Manganese dioxide composes approximately 0.14% of the Earth’s crust and is the most common manganese compound found in nature. Manganese as a mineral is naturally found in many foods, and is consumed by most people that eat natural, vegetable-based diets. Foods that contain a significant amount of manganese include leafy vegetables, nuts, whole grains, and teas.

What Is Manganese Used For?

Manganese is most often used in steel and iron production. Manganese is an essential component of the steel manufacturing process due to the element’s alloying capabilities and deoxidizing properties. By removing oxygen and sulfur from steel, manganese increases the metal’s malleability and allows the steel to better resist damage upon high impact. 90% of commercial manganese use is in the steelmaking industry alone. For example, steel railroad tracks can often contain more than 1% manganese.

Manganese is also effective as an aluminum alloy, decreasing the corrosive properties of aluminum. Manganese has many other commercial uses beyond steel production and alloys. manganese is used in dry cell batteries to prevent the formation of hydrogen. Manganese is also used in glass formation to induce green or pink hues.

Manganese is also used as a dietary supplement, which may seem strange since it is also a common drinking water contaminant. Manganese is actually essential for human health, but we require a miniscule amount. Small amounts of manganese are needed for natural developmental functions, enzyme metabolism, and the creation of antioxidants within the body. Manganese becomes a problem and poses health risks when it is over consumed.

How Does Manganese Get Into Water?

Manganese is naturally occurring, along with other metallic elements, in areas with mineral deposits. Manganese is also a common contaminant in deeper, older private wells where groundwater has been in direct contact with minerals for extended periods of time. Mining activities can also facilitate the release of manganese into local water supplies.

Manganese is not often found alone in a water supply - typically iron is found in affected drinking water as well. For this reason, many water treatment tests and products treat both manganese and iron simultaneously. If you obtain your water from a private well you are more susceptible to eventual manganese contamination.

Effects of Manganese in Drinking Water

Manganese is beneficial to human health in small quantities. However, after consuming more than the recommended amount of manganese, whether in your diet or by ingesting it in your water supply, manganese can cause several severe health issues. Excessive manganese intake can lead to manganism, a neurodegenerative disorder that will cause symptoms similar to those of Parkinson’s disease.

A recent study found that manganese overexposure is especially harmful to young children. Children living in areas with high concentrations of manganese in their water supply exhibited lower intelligent quotients and higher rates of intellectual impairment than children who lived in non contaminated areas. This study tied increased manganese exposure to lower dexterity and memory function in young children, as well as increased hyperactive and oppositional behaviors.

In addition to the adverse health effects associated with manganese in drinking water the element also causes several unwanted aesthetic problems with the water. When your water contains high levels of iron and/or manganese the water takes on a bitter metallic taste. Water contaminated with manganese and iron can appear brown or even black as it is exposed to oxygen. Manganese in drinking water stains plumbing and appliances. Deposits can form in your pipes and your water may contain sediment.

How to Test Your Water for Manganese

If you obtain your water from a private well you are responsible for maintaining your water’s cleanliness and for regular testing. Typically a metallic taste and cloudy, brown or red hue is a surefire sign that you should test your water for manganese right away. Your municipality will not know if there is a contaminant in your drinking water or if certain compounds like manganese and iron are present in unadvisable concentrations.

If you believe the drinking water in your home may contain manganese the best course of action is to conduct a water test at home. There are many options available for water testing in your home. Pelican Water carries various types of testing kits based on your budget and needs.

You don’t need to spend a fortune to determine your current manganese levels. The Pelican 12-Point Rapid Water Test will test for manganese, along with 11 other common contaminants and compounds. This is the most affordable water test we carry, and also tests your water for total iron content. If you want a full view of your water quality order a Pelican WaterCheck 32 Test, which tests for a total of 32 common contaminants like lead, mercury, and arsenic.

Once your water test arrives, follow these instructions:

  1. Carefully read the packaging to guarantee a valid sample.
  2. Follow the instructions provided to gather a water sample for testing.
  3. Using FedEx or UPS Overnight Saver, return your kit with the sample to the testing laboratory location indicated in the instructions. Note: return shipping is not included.
  4. The lab will process the results of your water test within 7 to 10 days of receiving your kit.
  5. Read your results once they have been mailed back to you.

After reading your water quality analysis report it’s best to contact the lab that conducted the testing if you have any questions. If you are still having trouble determining the concentration of manganese in your drinking water contact Pelican Water directly.

Test your water for manganese today - buy a water test kit from Pelican Water.


How to Reduce Manganese in Drinking Water

The Environmental Protection Agency recommends that the level of manganese in your drinking water not exceed 0.05 milligrams per liter. Anything above this level will cause aesthetic problems including staining and improper taste to your drinking water. The level must be higher than this for serious health problems to occur, but because more research must be conducted no definitive “safe” level of manganese contamination is known.

Researchers recommend that treatment should vary based on the amount of manganese present in your water supply. Once you conduct a water test in your home you will be able to make an informed decision for your home manganese reduction.

Best Water Filters for Manganese

After testing your water for manganese you should take action if your water tested for manganese at levels exceeding the recommended 0.05 mg/L. Installing a water filter will assist in reducing the aesthetic problems and to avoid any potential health problems associated with manganese. Pelican Water has developed specific water filtration systems for this contaminant:

Iron & Manganese Water Filter - Our Iron Series water filtration systems utilize the latest technology to more safely reduce the iron and manganese from your water with minimal maintenance required. The four stages of water treatment including filtration deliver cleaner, fresher, and pureer water to your entire family. Avoid stains and the potential health effects associated with manganese. Choose your model based on the size of your home.

Iron/Manganese Filter & Water Softener Alternative - This combination product is a step up from our iron and manganese filter. Reduce those unwanted impurities and combat hard water by relying on cutting-edge technology. Our filter is equipped with a non-electric dosing system and our softeners use salt-free technology. Save electricity and eliminate water waste with this all-in-one system! Again, choose the appropriate model based on the size of your home.

Check your water today for high levels of manganese, especially if you live near mining sites or rock deposits, or if you use a private well. Immediately take action if you notice tell-tale stains and a metallic taste in your drinking water. If you have any questions about our products or about protecting your family from the harmful effects of manganese contact a Pelican Water specialist today.

Disclaimer: The information on this website has not been reviewed by the FDA. Products offered for sale herein are not intended to treat, cure or prevent any disease or health condition. No medical claims are being made or implied. Contaminants mentioned are not necessarily in your water.