Manganese is an essential mineral for human health; too little will inhibit proper brain development but too much is proving to significantly lower IQ in children. When as little as 0.5 parts per million are in drinking water, both IQ and memory can suffer. The bad news is that manganese is found virtually everywhere, especially in well water. The good news is that it’s easy to fix by using a combination of water softening with water filtration.
What Is Manganese and Where Does It Come From?
Manganese is a naturally-occurring element that is highly reactive in its pure form, so it’s usually found in minerals, most commonly with iron. Most soil has a little, and virtually all plants and meat will contain traces that are healthy for humans to consume. Over time, it will leech into aquifers and seep into well water, and it may also be found in iron pipes used in some homes and water distribution systems.
Why Is It Unhealthy?
In significant doses, it acts as a neurotoxin, eventually causing Parkinson’s-like symptoms and, in children, delaying or preventing cognitive development. The exact mechanism is uncertain, but interestingly, small overdoses from food don’t seem to have much impact whereas in drinking water, very tiny excesses can directly impair brain growth. As with most things, moderation is the key to good health.
How Do I Fix It?
It depends on how much manganese is in your water. Some wells have 6 times the threshold for unhealthy levels, but most homes can achieve significant manganese reductions with a high-quality, multi-level water filtration system. In certain types of water or water with very elevated levels, a water softener is used to precipitate the manganese out so it can then be filtered.
What you need entirely depends on the quality and pH level of your tap water. Experts strongly recommend that you have it tested by a certified water quality specialist. They’ll be able to determine what your water has too much of as well as what it needs added to keep your family healthy and your tap water tasting great.