The general population is exposed to manganese through consumption of food and water, inhalation of air, and dermal contact with air, water, soil, and consumer products that contain manganese. The primary source of manganese intake is through diet.
The inhalation of air contaminated with particulate matter containing manganese is the primary source of excess manganese exposure for the general population in the United States. Populations living in close proximity to mining activities and industries using manganese may be exposed by inhalation to high levels of manganese in dust. Workers in these industries are especially vulnerable to exposure to manganese dust. Manganese concentrations in soil may be elevated when the soil is in close proximity to a mining source or industry using manganese and may therefore pose a risk of excess exposure to children who ingest contaminated soil. Manganese is ubiquitous in drinking water in the United States.
Manganese levels that are too high can lead to:
- Mouth and throat dryness
- Muscle pains/cramps
- Hearing loss/impairment
- Personality change
Although low levels of manganese intake are necessary for human health, exposures to high manganese levels are toxic.
The symptoms of manganese toxicity may appear slowly over months and years. Manganese toxicity can result in a permanent neurological disorder known as manganism with symptoms that include tremors, difficulty walking, and facial muscle spasms. These symptoms are often preceded by other lesser symptoms, including irritability, aggressiveness, and hallucinations. Some studies suggest that manganese inhalation can also result in adverse cognitive effects, including difficulty with concentration and memory problems. Although the workplace is the most common source of excess inhalation of manganese, frequent inhalation of fumes from welding activities in the home can produce a risk of excess manganese exposure leading to neurological symptoms. Environmental exposures to airborne manganese have been associated with similar preclinical neurological effects and mood effects as are seen in occupational studies. Acute or intermediate exposure to excess manganese also affects the respiratory system.
A number of reports indicate that oral exposure to manganese, especially from contaminated water sources, can produce significant health effects. These effects have been most prominently observed in children and are similar to those observed from inhalation exposure. An actual threshold level at which manganese exposure produces neurological effects in humans has not been established.
Possible treatment options:
The foremost therapeutic strategy in treatment of Managnese toxicity is to remove the person from the source of the Managnese exposure. If the intoxication is life threatening, the procedures to relieve the critical signs and symptoms should first be employed. For a thorough treatment, chelation therapies can help reduce the body burden of Managnese, but such treatments may not be able to improve symptoms. Another possible therapy includes Iron supplementation. Check with your doctor before you start any such treatment.
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