What is manganese?

What Is Manganese Injury Law

What is manganese?

Manganese is the 12th most common element in the world and the 5th most prevalent metal. It is a naturally occurring substance found at low levels in water, air, soil, and food, and has no special taste or smell. Manganese is an essential nutrient required in the daily diet and can easily be obtained from grains and nuts. Deficiency in this element can lead to bone problems, slowed blood clotting, skin problems, changes in hair color, lowered cholesterol levels, and other alterations in metabolism.

Manganese can also be released into the air by iron and steel production plants, power plants, and coke ovens, with 95% of all manganese being used in the steel manufacturing process. Digested manganese interacts with the body very differently than inhaled manganese. When manganese is ingested (eaten, digestive tract) the body can rid itself of excess manganese simply by excreting it. However, when inhaled, manganese remains in the blood stream long enough that it penetrates the blood-brain barrier and causes brain damage.

It was not until recently that physicians and toxicologists began to recognize that the body of literature describing the dangers of manganese inhalation could apply to actual workplace exposures, and that there may be significant health risks in the industrial application of this element. Exposure to industrial manganese can cause permanent damage to the brain, liver and kidneys, and kills brain cells that control motor skills, causing victims to lose control over basic body movements. Its symptoms and affects on the brain are much like Parkinson’s disease. Although the damage to the brain is almost always permanent, the symptoms can be treated. The Department of Health and Human Services provides a complete profile of the dangers of manganese exposure and its effects.

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