Brooklyn Center monitoring levels of manganese in water

The average levels of manganese in Brooklyn Center’s drinking water are above limits set by Minnesota Department of Health,  according to a report from Public Works Director Steve Lillehaug given at a city council meeting Jan. 28. Manganese is an element found naturally in drinking water, food, soil and the air throughout the state; however, consumption of too much may be harmful, according to the Department of Health.
Lillehaug reviewed a health advisory regarding manganese. City staff recently learned about the possible health risk in Brooklyn Center after a University of Minnesota professor inquired about a study of the element’s levels in water, Lillehaug said. He said he contacted the Department of Health about the manganese levels and received the June 2012 fact sheet issued by the Health Risk Assessment Unit.
Brooklyn Center’s staff identified short-term actions to lower the manganese levels in drinking water as well as potential long-term solutions.
The manganese levels, after testing in seven of nine city wells, are at a general average of 380 parts per billion, Lillehaug said.
The state’s limit is 100 parts per billion for infants fed with formula or who drink tap water and 300 parts per billion for children and adults, including nursing mothers.
While small amounts of manganese are necessary to maintain a healthy diet, infants are more at risk because they absorb more of the element as they grow, according to the department.
Isaac Bradlich, a district engineer with the Department of Health, said the guidance values for manganese have not changed in recent years but the health risk assessment did need to be released because of the potential impact on infants’ health.
Manganese, which has similar properties to iron, is less abundant in the earth’s crust but still widely present in rocks and soil, according to the department.
If a well in Brooklyn Center is in a location with rocks and soil highly concentrated with manganese, the levels in water will be higher too, Bradlich said.
The city of Brooklyn Center has already started the process of minimizing the use of wells with water containing higher concentrations of manganese and maximizing the use of wells with lower concentration, Lillehaug said.
“We are being proactive and we are addressing it and we feel we should do something now,” he said.
The Department of Health is conducting a series of tests for metals and elements in community wells that should be complete by the end of 2013, Bradlich said. “We’ll have results available for thousands of wells that are in a municipality and a community well system,” he said. “At that point we’ll have manganese levels from all across the state.”
Lillehaug and Brooklyn Center City Manager Curt Boganey stressed residents should not be alarmed by the levels of manganese and that a long-term plan to lower the levels would be developed within the next six months.
Brooklyn Center is not unique in having a higher average of manganese levels, Lillehaug said. “It occurs everywhere in Minnesota.”
The city plans to provide education about sources of manganese in the drinking water and options for treating tap water at home with the use of a filter.
“The message we want to have as a city is there is an advisory that there is manganese in the drinking water and it may be harmful,” Lillehaug said. “Brooklyn Center is and has taken immediate steps to reduce risk and we are exploring options to further reduce risks,” he said.

Info: 763-569-3340 (Brooklyn Center Public Works Department)
Fact Sheet: Manganese in Drinking Water

Fact Sheet: Home Water Treatment Devices