Warning: Excessive Manganese in Drinking Water Can Now Be Considered A Public Health Risk

  1. Manganese, a mineral like iron, is found in Brewster drinking water. People, especially babies, who drink water containing manganese above certain levels may suffer harmful health effects. Brewster town water is safe, but residents with private wells are encouraged to have their well water tested for manganese. Exposure to high concentrations of manganese over the course of years has been associated with a nervous system disease with symptoms like Parkinson’s disease.
  2. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has set a health advisory for lifetime exposure to Manganese in drinking water of 0.3mg/L (300 ug/L). The EPA considers this level safe from potential neurological impacts over a lifetime. For short term exposure, EPA advises that levels in drinking water be below 1 mg/L (1000 ug/L). In addition, EPA advises that infants should not drink water that contains Manganese above 0.3 mg/L (300 ug/L) at any time, especially if formula fed.
  3. Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) recommends that children under the age of three years should also not be given water with levels containing more than 0.3mg Mn/L (300 ug Mn/L). For more information on manganese, including a consumer Q & A, see: http://www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/massdep/water/drinking/manganese-in-drinking-water.html.
  4. Manganese is a normal and healthy part of a human diet in small amounts. Manganese may become noticeable in tap water at levels above 0.05mg/L by imparting a brown color, odor or unpleasant taste to the water. It may leave stains on bathroom fixtures and laundry.
  5. The Brewster Board of Health recommends contacting a water treatment specialist or plumber to incorporate a treatment system for any parameters when recommended levels are exceeded. In addition, the Board recommends all private wells be tested at least every two years for all potability parameters as defined in the Brewster Board of Health Well Regulations. Brewster potability parameters include, but are not limited to: Total Coliform Bacteria, Nitrate, Manganese, Copper, Sodium, Conductivity and Iron.
  6. If you have a higher than healthy level of manganese in your drinking water, your water can be treated to reduce the manganese level.