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Manganese in Drinking Water – Persistent Nuisance and Now Health Risk

February 13th, 2014 by Eileen Pannetier

If you are tuned in to the Massachusetts drinking water community, by now you have probably heard about the renewed interest in manganese levels in drinking water. Until recently, most people thought manganese was just a nuisance problem that would stain laundry and plumbing fixtures. We’ve all heard the stories about unhappy water customers bringing their ruined clothes to the water department office as evidence and some of you have firsthand experience with that!

You may have been able to tolerate the nuisance affects that occur, but what if the manganese levels in your water is also having an adverse effect on your children? Recent scientific studies suggest that levels thought to be safe before, are not, so the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) is encouraging people who have elevated manganese in their drinking water to filter their water or use another source of drinking water.

Now you may be thinking our water is ok because we treat it using a sequestering technique. Sequestering is done through the addition of a chemical to bind manganese in water preventing it from oxidizing on contact with air or chlorine and helping to prevent the nuisance affects. However, there are issues with sequestering, including: (1) it is only effective for lower levels of manganese, (2) it is ineffective at higher temperatures in hot water tanks, so you may still have laundry showing up at the water department, and (3) most importantly, sequestering does not remove manganese from drinking water so the health risk remains!

The only ways to remove manganese from drinking water is through filtration, adsorption or ion exchange. Fortunately, treatment removal of manganese is within reach. There are several methods of treatment and processes available. The only challenge is figuring out which method is the best one for your water system.

I encourage you to visit CEI’s webpage dedicated to manganese in drinking water for access to more information on this issue. You can find it through the Water Supply section of our Innovation page at: /innovation.php.

Posted in the categories Drinking Water, Manganese.