What Is Manganese And How Does It Get Into My Water?

Manganese is a naturally occurring metal that can be found in different types of rocks, soils and sediments as well as naturally occur in lakes, rivers and underground water supplies.

Manganese is used in steel production to improve hardness, stiffness, and strength. It may also be used as an additive in gasoline to improve the octane rating of the gas.

Manganese is essential to plant and animal life. It is important in building strong bones and even has benefits to the cardiovascular system. Manganese may be found in deep wells at levels as high as 2 – 3 mg/l.

Manganese Bacteria May Also Be Present

As with iron and various other metals, manganese bacteria may also be present in drinking water with manganese levels. These microorganisms live in some water supplies and feed on the dissolved manganese and oxygen present in the water.

This bacteria can result in black looking water, black stains, but also as a byproduct you will see a dark brown or black slime forming on fixtures such as toilets, faucets or sinks.

The slime will usually have an odor that can resemble oil or raw sewage. A great place to look for this slime is on the inside of your toilet tank, providing you are not using sanitizers in the tank.

Is It Harmful To Me And My Family?

Manganese is considered a secondary non health standard. Manganese is an essential nutrient, and small amounts of it each day is important for good health.

The most common health problems from exposure to excessively high levels of manganese involve the nervous system.  Behavioral changes and other nervous system effects, including limb movement that may become slow and heavy.

Studies in children have suggested that extremely high levels of manganese exposure can have negative effects on brain development, including changes in the ability to learn and remember.

How Do I Treat Manganese In My Water?

Manganese can be hard to treat because of its ability to combine with other materials, particularly iron.

Concentrations at levels higher than 0.05 mg/l can cause manganese deposits and staining of clothing and plumbing fixtures. The stains are dark brown to black in nature. The use of chlorine bleach in the laundry can increase and cause the stains to set. The chemistry of manganese in water is similar to that of iron.

High levels of manganese in the water produces an unpleasant odor and taste. Organic materials can tie up manganese in the same manner as they do iron, therefore destruction of the organic matter is a necessary part of manganese removal.

The following are common treatment options for manganese:

  • Ion exchange (sodium form cation – softener)
  • Removal with a water softener
  • Greensand filter with potassium will remove up to 10 ppm if pH is above 8.0.
  • Birm filter with air injection will reduce manganese if pH is 8.0 to 8.5.

If you think you have manganese in your drinking water, contact one of our specialists to discuss your water testing and treatment options.