Toxic Manganese Exposure and its Effects

Toxic Manganese Exposure and its Effects

Manganese is a very useful and important element. It is used in the production of dry cell batteries, fuel additives, fungicides, paint, and adhesives. It is also used for steel production, the production of potassium permanganate (a disinfectant), the creation of glass and ceramics, matches and fireworks, welding rods, textile bleaching, leather tanning, and decoloring glass. It can naturally be found in legumes, pineapples, beans, nuts, tea, and grains at low concentrations, and is an essential trace element that helps with blood sugar regulation, bone formation, the immune response, reproduction, and the breakdown of lipids, proteins, and carbohydrates. If someone is deficient in manganese, he or she can have bone deformities, feebleness, susceptibility to seizures, birth defects, and diminished reproduction.

Problems arise when too much manganese builds up in the body, which is easy to do when working with the substance. With mining, welding, and industrial applications the prolonged inhalation of manganese fumes and dusts can occur, collecting inside the lungs due to their size (less than 10 micrometers). If someone is exposed to a high level of it or not enough is removed from the body, it builds up in the basal ganglia region of the brain, leading to a Parkinsonism like syndrome called manganism. It is also problematic when it accumulates in the globus pallidus, subthalamic nucleus, substantia nigra, and striatium, which are all involved in the control of motor and non-motor functions.

Once someone is exposed to a high enough level of manganese, psychiatric symptoms can appear including emotional disturbance, memory loss, compulsive behavior, visual impairment, and illusions and delusions. Physical symptoms including bradykinesia (slow movement), akinesia (inability to move voluntarily), and rigidity can also appear. These symptoms can be severe and troubling, making it necessary to prevent them from happening in the first place. Regulations need to be in place and proper breathing protection needs to be worn to ensure workers do not inhale dusts and fumes.

If you have been exposed to manganese and now have Parkinson’s-like symptoms you may be entitled to compensation. Call us at 412-471-3980 or fill out our contact form to speak to an attorney and learn your options.

Gunnar F. Kwakye, Monica M.B. Paoliello, Somshuvra Mukhopadhyay, Aaron B. Bowman, and Michael Aschner, “Manganese-Induced Parkinsonism and Parkinson’s Disease: Shared and Distinguishable Features” International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (July 6, 2015). [Link]

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