Nearly 9 million people in the United States are exposed to manganese levels that may cause toxic effects. And while small levels of this naturally occurring metal can be found in food and many types of rocks and enters the air, soil and water, high levels of manganese are mainly found in wells and private water supplies.
With that said, according to an analysis based on animal studies, showering in manganese-contaminated water for a decade or more could permanently affect one's nervous system as well as induce learning and coordination disabilities, behavioral changes and a condition similar to Parkinson's disease. Worse, the damage could occur in levels considered safe by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)--an upper limit of 0.5 milligrams/liter.
This research is the first to find the potential for permanent brain damage from inhaling vaporized manganese while taking a shower.
Researchers reviewed a number of animal studies to determine how much manganese patients absorb by showering 10 minutes a day for a decade. The results correlated that:
Children would be exposed to doses of manganese three times higher than doses resulting in manganese deposits in the brains of rats.
Adults would be exposed to doses 50 percent higher than rodents.
Breathing in manganese, rather than eating or drinking it, is much more efficient at transporting manganese to the brain. That's because the nerve cells involved in smell are a direct pathway for toxins to the brain; once inside these small nerves, manganese has the ability to roam throughout the brain.
And a major problem with manganese exposure in the shower: The EPA based its 0.5 milligrams/liter limit on odor and taste, but not the amount one can accumulate in their brain by showering. Thus, regulatory agencies may want to rethink existing drinking water standards for manganese ... and soon.
Medical Hypothesis May 23, 2005
Science Blog June 30, 2005
Dr. Mercola's Comment:
Although manganese is an important and necessary nutrient, as is so often the case, too much of a good thing can be harmful. While it is quite difficult to ingest too much of certain nutrients, such as vitamin C or magnesium, because your body will let you know you are getting too much (diarrhea), other nutrients that are essentially trace minerals needed in small quantities, like manganese, can become overloaded in your body without your being aware that anything is wrong.
Exposure to high levels of manganese is becoming increasingly well known as a contributor to nervous system damage. The high levels of manganese in soy formula is one of the primary concerns many experts have with soy formula.
Additionally, some researchers believe high manganese exposure combined with exposure to certain types of pesticides is the root cause of mad cow disease.
Please remember, water, although it is as fundamental to life for you as breathing, can be a powerful source of numerous toxins. I would never drink a glass of tap or well water that hadn't been either purified or tested and found to be void of contaminants, unless it was absolutely necessary.
If you are still drinking water from the tap, I urge you to investigate the large volume of information on this topic available on my Web site.
ęCopyright 2005 Dr. Joseph Mercola. All Rights Reserved.