Manganese and the Brain-March 2014

Monthly Round Up of Important Ideas and Standards in
Industrial Hygiene and Safety 

March 2014

IN THIS ISSUE: Manganese and the Brain

The latest research into the effects of manganese indicates that exposure to this metal may cause greater neurological harm than previously suspected. Manganese is naturally present in humans but, in higher amounts, interferes with the biochemistry of the body. Prolonged exposure can cause damage to the lungs, liver, kidney and central nervous system, and cause fertility problems in male workers. Manganese may also cause Parkinson-like symptoms called Manganism. Recent studies have shown that even at low levels of exposure, manganese may cause changes in mood and short-term memory, altered reaction time, and reduced hand-eye coordination.

Manganese is a naturally occurring metal that is found in rocks. It is present in mining, in making steel and metal catalyst. Manganese is also a gasoline additive, an animal feed supplement, and a component of some fertilizers. Employees may be exposed to the dust from these processes. The most common form of worker exposure is from welding. Welding fumes may contain a small amount of manganese, and, if it is not adequately controlled, workers may inhale the metal. Because of these concerns, the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) reduced the Threshold Limit Value (TLV) for respirable manganese particulate by a factor of ten to 0.02 mg/m3. This applies to manganese compounds found in fumes. Employers may need to put in controls such as fans, fume arms, back-draft or side-draft hoods or dust collection systems to meet this standard.

Employers should re-evaluate the controls they have in place to protect workers for exposure to this metal. As knowledge increases about the effects of chemicals on workers, it is important that safety programs are adjusted to meet new standards. OSHA benchmarks that are typically over 50 years old may not be sufficient. Employers should be flexible in maintaining the health of their workforce. For more information on this topic and to discuss your company’s safety and industrial hygiene needs call OccuSafe at (214) 662-6005 or contact us at

OccuSafe Industrial Hygiene & Safety, Inc. provides skills and expertise to recognize, evaluate and control hazards and injuries in the areas of industrial hygiene, occupational safety and health. OccuSafe services companies of all sizes in a range of industries.

This newsletter is published monthly by OccuSafe Industrial Hygiene & Safety Services, Inc. Feel free to forward it to friends and colleagues.

Comments are closed.