Manganese free drinking water

About Manganese and Iron in Drinking Water

Contaminants, EPA, Lab Water

Manganese is a chemical element that naturally occurs in rocks and soil. It is frequently found in iron-bearing drinking waters. Being more rare than iron, manganese may also be present due to underground pollution sources. In coal mining regions, for example, it is found frequently with iron may also appear from both deep and surface mining activities. They often occur together in groundwater, but manganese usually appears in much lower concentrations than iron.

Manganese is seldom found in the water supply. In low concentrations, it produces extremely objectionable stains on everything it comes in contact with. Manganese deposits collect in pipelines.  When found in tap water, it will contain black sediment and turbidity as a result of precipitated manganese. Iron is readily apparent in drinking water supplies as well. It imparts a strong metallic taste to the water and causes staining. Iron and manganese are most common in private wells and springs in northern and western counties of Pennsylvania. Excessive iron concentrations were found in 17% of the private water supplies sampled in the state.

Drinking Water Standards

Because private water systems serving individual homes are not subject to state or federal drinking water standards, the following information only provides guidelines for the proper management of these types of water supplies. Thus, drinking water is recommended to have no more than 0.3 mg/L (0.3 parts per million) of iron and less than 0.05 mg/L of manganese. 

For many industrial purposes, the U.S. EPA Secondary Drinking Water Regulations recommend the manganese content should not exceed 0.01 to 0.02 mg/L, which is considered excessive in some cases. This metal may become noticeable in drinking water by impairing color, odor, and taste in concentrations higher than 0.05 mg/L. Health effects are not a concern unless concentrations are approximately 10 times higher, according to the EPA.

Can Manganese Cause Health Problems?

High exposure to these metals has been associated with toxicity to the nervous system, producing a syndrome that resembles Parkinsonism. It is unlikely to cause cancer or reproductive damages and it can be consumed from our diet and in our drinking water. Manganese does not penetrate the skin and does not get into the air. Bathing and showering in water with manganese does not increase exposure. However, if you notice orange-brown or black stains in your water or a metallic taste, you should arrange to have your water tested for iron and/or manganese.

Water Treatment Options

You can obtain a list of certified commercial water testing laboratories from your local Extension office. Our 200 square feet laboratory located in Vista, CA allows us to study the chemistry of our clients’ water before we make recommendations on products or services. Depending on both the form and concentrations of iron and manganese in the water, they can be effectively removed using a number of treatment processes:

  • water softening (ion exchange)
  • polyphosphate addition
  • oxidizing filters
  • oxidation followed by filtration
  • other treatment methods (aeration, ozonation, catalytic carbon)

Since iron and manganese are aesthetic problems, they must be removed from all water entering the home using POE (Point-of-Entry) treatment devices.
Contact us today at 760.734.5787 and get in touch with our water treatment experts!


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