Manganese in well water

aniceeJuly 23, 2011

I have an accepted offer on a house and I have had (as a condition) a water test done by a lab and the report came back good to the exception of the manganese level. I am in Canada and the acceptable level is less than 0.05mg/L.

I have read about manganese and apparently there is no health issue when the number is higher. My water tested 0.45. I was reading that the problem with this number would be the smell of the water, the bad taste as well as staining inside the toilet bowls, the dishwasher and stains on clothes when you wash them.

There is no smell to the water and the water tastes fine and I didn't see any stains. The house was not lived in for 7 months. I was wondering if I should get another water test just to check the manganese level and is it possible that even if the manganese level is high (as in my case) the water could still be good. The iron level rated well under the recommended standards.

Thank you,


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Manganese is an essential nutrient. At high exposure levels, however, it is toxic. Industrial toxicology is probably well-develiped.

I am not really prepared to comment extensively on the toxicity. I do not know what forms of manganese are the problem and what the most problematic route of exposure is, ingested, inhaled, absorption through the skin. I have a vague memory that inhalation is a very problematic route resulting in transport to the brain and subsequent toxic effects. In that case, your prospective shower might be dangerous. I am afraid that the most meaningful advice that I can give is that if told that my water exceeded some acceptable limit, I would look into it carefully. It should not be difficult to find documents relating to the drinking water standards. You might expect to find dissent in what ever figure is decided on.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2011 at 11:07AM
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First, is you house supplied with city water or is it on a private well? If city water, you can obtain the city water report and see typical numbers. Those will vary somewhat from the water you see at your house, but will get you in the ballpark.

If well water (which I assume is the case since you made the house offer contingent upon water quality), since the house has not been occupied for several months, I would locate the faucet closest to the point where the water enters the house and sample there. Further, run the water for 20 minutes prior to taking the sample to flush the lines a bit.

Does the water come out clear from the faucet? If so, does it turn dark after sitting for 30 - 60 minutes?

You will not see health issues with the manganese level you have see so far. However, over time you may see the following:

1) Staining in toilets/sinks, showers.
2) Discoloration of laundry, particularly whites.
3) Cooked vegetables may be darker, unappetizing in appearance.
4) Alcoholic mixed drinks may darken and develop a metallic flavor.

Low levels of Manganese can be removed by a variety of methods, such as ion exchange softener, birm filter, pyrolox filter. If water taste is your only concern, a point-of-use RO will take care of it nicely. However, before you get to the point of deciding on treatment (if you purchase the house and decide treatment is necessary), get a comprehensive water test to see what else might be in your water. You shouldn't make treatment decisions without the whole picture. You want to know: pH, TDS, hardness, alkalinity, iron, manganese, sulfate, nitrate, bacterial count (plus viral if surface water).

    Bookmark   July 25, 2011 at 12:46PM
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Thank you for your replies.
Yes it is well water and the report was quite good all over to the exception of the manganese level. My real estate agent who is working with me in the purchasing of the house is not alarmed but I have written to the lab where the test was done and await their reply. I just want to make sure.


    Bookmark   July 25, 2011 at 5:23PM
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Mine was tested as high a number of years ago. I just ran across the report. It says that it is not a health concern, just a staining concern. My water softener took out the stain problem. I wouldn't worry about it but you might want to get a water softener.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2011 at 7:46PM
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