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Get Informed | Manganese

What is Manganese?

Manganese is a transitional metal and depending on the oxidation state manganese can be black, brown, pink, red, green, blue, and purple. Manganese is common in rocks, soils, and some minerals and is the 12th most common element in the Earth's Crust at about 0.1 %. This element can be very problematic in drinking water. In its purest form manganese metal is hard, brittle and gray-white in color, however, manganese metal does not occur naturally. Manganese is typically present in a mineral complex that is commonly associated with iron, sulfates, sulfides, oxides, and chloride. Manganese is primarily used in the production of steel and aluminum alloys, disposable batteries, anti-knock additives in fuel, catalysts, fertilizer, fungicides, glass production, pigments, fireworks, paint, cosmetics, and animal feed. Manganese is a human trace nutrient that our bodies need.

On a Historic Note:
Manganese got its named from the Latin "magnes" for "magnet" or "magnesia nigri" meaning "black magnesia" (MnO2) or pyrolusite; despite the name, it is not magnetic. These types of black minerals were common in the region of Greece, known as Magnesia. (Source)

How Does Manganese become a problem?

Manganese is primarily regulated as a secondary drinking water standard because it can create aesthetic problems with the use of the water. These problems include the presence of black particles (MnO₂), black coatings and films on porcelain, a bitter/ metallic taste to the water, stains on laundry, and black films on automatic dishwashers and on dishes. If you have black coatings in your dishwasher, toilet tank, or in the bowl, you may have a manganese issue.

Manganese can be a problem in city water or regulated water systems that use sequestering for manganese control and/or corrosion control. When the sequestering agent can no longer sequester (keep it in solution) the manganese, it oxidizes to a less soluble form and starts to come out of solution creating aesthetic problems. For well owners, manganese can be a very common problem but it depends on the local geology (whether there are manganese minerals in the local rock).

In general, there are two phases of manganese in water, manganous manganese (Mn⁺⁺) and manganic manganese (Mn⁺⁺⁺⁺). Manganous manganese is manganese dissolved in the water (Mn⁺⁺) and manganic manganese is the "solid" or insoluble phase (MnO₂). If your drinking water appears clean and then it turns black or brown after any particles settle out of solution (MnO₂), the water can contain manganese and you just witnessed this phase change. This is similar to iron in which the less oxidized form (Mn⁺⁺ and Fe⁺⁺) is more soluble in water. When exposed to air, both the iron and manganese oxidize to less soluble forms (Mn⁺⁺⁺⁺ and Fe⁺⁺⁺); the excess precipitates out (MnO₄ and Fe(OH)₃). Manganese takes longer to do this than the iron does. Please remember: Depending on the oxidation state of manganese it can appear black (Mn⁺4), brown (Mn⁺4), pink (Mn⁺2), red (Mn ⁺7), green (Mn ⁺6), blue (Mn ⁺6), or purple (Mn ⁺7).

What are the Health Risks for Manganese?

Manganese is an essential nutrient for humans, but elevated levels of manganese have been associated with acute and chronic health problems. In most cases this exposure is related to either the inhalation of manganese vapors or dust during welding. Health issues associated with exposure to high levels of manganese include nervous systems damage, behavior changes, lung damage that promotes pneumonia, and disorders associated with the kidneys.

In drinking water, the EPA has established that exposure to manganese at concentrations of 1 mg/L for 1 or 10 days is not expected to cause any adverse effects in a child and the EPA has established that lifetime exposure to 0.3 mg/L manganese is not expected to cause any adverse effects. (Source) Even at a level of 0.3 mg/L, it is still safe to bath or shower in the water.

What are the Standards for Manganese?

The EPA has established a health advisory for manganese with a lifetime exposure limit of 0.3 mg/L manganese and has recommended a secondary drinking water standard of 0.05 mg/L. The FDA and many states have established a maximum manganese concentration in bottled and regulated potable drinking water of < (less than) 0.05 mg/L. Therefore, manganese in drinking water can create both aesthetic problems and a health concern.

Note: Minnesota has a recommendation or guidelines that suggest that infants should not consume water or formula made with tap water that has a manganese level above 0.1 mg/L, which is above the secondary drinking water standard of 0.05 mg/L. (Source)

Get Tested | Manganese

Unlike many contaminants in drinking water, manganese poses a potential health concern when the level is above the secondary drinking water standard and there is long-term use. Therefore, the fact that manganese tends to create aesthetic problems at relatively low levels and these aesthetic problems are typically easy to detect makes it easier to protect yourself and your family. Your best course of action is to get your water tested and compile as much information as possible about your water supply source, well construction, surrounding land-use, and local geology and be observant. In addition, there are a few low-cost in-home screening tests for manganese. In many cases, when you have a problem with manganese you may also have an elevated level of iron or arsenic, sulfur-like odors, and hardness issues. It is relatively easy to treat water for a manganese problem, but it is necessary to have a complete analysis and determine the causes before implementing a solution.

Level 1 | Observational Self-Testing

Level 1 Testing is done with simple observations that an individual can make with their own senses such as sight, smell, and taste. These observations can be readily apparent or can be observed as they change over time. In addition, accessible related information about the home can also be used to narrow down the cause of your water issues.

Notes on Level 1 Testing for Manganese

Unlike many contaminants, manganese does present warning signs that you may have a problem with the water. The drinking water may appear discolored and the typical colors are dark brown, black, purple, and at times, the water may appear to be pink. In addition, the water may have a bitter metallic taste or have a sulfur-like odor. You may see a black precipitate or black stains or coatings on porcelain fixtures.

Observations for Manganese

Manganese issues can be expressed in several ways:

  • The water may appear black, dark, or have black particles that will settle.
  • The water may initially appear clear and then become discolored, typically brown to black.
  • The water may have a sulfur-like odor.
  • The water may have a metallic or bitter taste and stain porcelain, clothing, or water appliances like dishwashers and cloth washing machines.
  • Manganese may be associated with an iron bacteria or a bacterial-related problem.
Level 1 | Self-Test Web App
To do a quick and easy self diagnosis of your water, click the button below.
Launch

Level 2 | Do-It-Yourself Testing

Level 2 Testing is Do-It-Yourself testing that can be done in your own home using a Testing Kit. After you’ve done Level 1 Testing, Level 2 Testing can confirm if your observations are correct. If your test results reveal the presence of a contaminant that is cause for concern, you can either proceed to determine the best treatment (see below) or continue to Level 3 Testing.

Notes on Level 2 Testing for Manganese

Manganese issues can be expressed in several ways:

  • Elevated manganese may be associated with hard water, iron, water with a bacterial problem or even an arsenic issue.
  • Elevated manganese may be an issue with some city water customers, but is more likely a problem with a private water system. If you have a water treatment system the water may be pink because of an issue with the treatment system.
  • The water may have a sulfur-like odor and exceed recommended limits: > 0.3 mg/L (for children) or > 1.6 mg/L (DWEL Health Advisory for adults).
Recommended Level 2 Tests
National Testing LabsWaterCheck® Standard

<div class="product-note in-L4-sulfur-treatment">Note: Use in combination with Sulfate-Reducing Bacteria Test</div>

View
National Testing LabsCityCheck Standard

<div class="product-note in-L4-sulfur-treatment">Note: Use in combination with Sulfate-Reducing Bacteria Test</div>

View
Crystal QuestTriple Under-Sink Water Filter, 8-Stage

<div class="product-note in-L6-benzene">Note: If the concentration is < 0.005 mg/L (POU Device) </div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-carbon-tetrachloride">Note: If the concentration is < 0.004 mg/L (POU Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-chloroform-trichloromethane">Note: If the concentration of trihalomethanes is < 0.08 mg/L (POU Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-ethylbenzene">Note: If the concentration is < 0.03 mg/L (POU Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-methylene-chloride-dichloromethane-dcm">Note: If the concentration is < 0.005 mg/L (POU Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-mtbe-methyl-tert-butyl-ether">Note: If the concentration is < 0.07 mg/L (POU Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-tetrachloroethylene">Note: If the concentration is < 0.005 mg/L (POU Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-toluene">Note: If the concentration is less than 0.8 mg/L</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-xylenes">Note: If the concentration is < 1.0 mg/L (POU Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-atrazine">Note: If the concentration is < 0.001 mg/L (POU Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-alachlor">Note: If the concentration is < 0.002 mg/L (POU Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-glyphosate">Note: If the concentration is < 0.7 mg/L (POU Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-2-4-d">Note: If the concentration is < 0.07 mg/L (POU Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-bis-2-ethylhexyl-phthalate">Note: If the concentration is < 0.006 mg/L (POU Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-trihalomethanes">Note: If the concentration is < 0.08 mg/L (POU Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-haloacetic-acids">Note: If the concentration is < 0.06 mg/L (POU Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-chlorite">Note: If the concentration is < 0.8 mg/L (POU Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-gross-alpha">Note: Temporary Solution: If the concentration of alpha is < 5 pCi/L (POU Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-beta-particles">Note: Temporary Solution: If the concentration is < 4 millirems/year (POU Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-radium-226-and-radium-228">Note: Temporary Solution: If combined concentration is less than 5 pCi/L and alpha, beta, and uranium are below drinking water limit (POU Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-total-dissolved-solids">Note: Consider this treatment If the problem appears to be related to a metal or hardness.</div>

View
Crystal QuestWhole-House Water-Softener System

<div class="product-note in-L6-gross-alpha">Note: If alpha is < 5 pCi/L and Radium 228 and Radium 226 are < 5 pCi/L  (POE Device)</div>

View
Filter WaterWater Softener and Whole-House Dual System (Code A27AC)

<div class="product-note in-L6-beta-particles">Note: If the beta  dosage equivalent is < 4 millirems/year and Radium 226 + Radium 228 is < 5 pCi/L - (POE Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-radium-226-and-radium-228">Note: If combined radium concentration is < 5 pCi/L and alpha, beta, uranium, and radon are low - (POE Device)</div>

View
Recommended Products
National Testing LabsL3-NATE-W-4 | WaterCheck® Standard

<div class="product-note in-L4-sulfur-treatment">Note: Use in combination with Sulfate-Reducing Bacteria Test</div>

View
National Testing LabsL3-NATE-C-3 | CityCheck Standard

<div class="product-note in-L4-sulfur-treatment">Note: Use in combination with Sulfate-Reducing Bacteria Test</div>

View
Crystal QuestST-CRYS-T-02 | Triple Under-Sink Water Filter, 8-Stage

<div class="product-note in-L6-benzene">Note: If the concentration is < 0.005 mg/L (POU Device) </div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-carbon-tetrachloride">Note: If the concentration is < 0.004 mg/L (POU Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-chloroform-trichloromethane">Note: If the concentration of trihalomethanes is < 0.08 mg/L (POU Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-ethylbenzene">Note: If the concentration is < 0.03 mg/L (POU Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-methylene-chloride-dichloromethane-dcm">Note: If the concentration is < 0.005 mg/L (POU Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-mtbe-methyl-tert-butyl-ether">Note: If the concentration is < 0.07 mg/L (POU Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-tetrachloroethylene">Note: If the concentration is < 0.005 mg/L (POU Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-toluene">Note: If the concentration is less than 0.8 mg/L</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-xylenes">Note: If the concentration is < 1.0 mg/L (POU Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-atrazine">Note: If the concentration is < 0.001 mg/L (POU Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-alachlor">Note: If the concentration is < 0.002 mg/L (POU Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-glyphosate">Note: If the concentration is < 0.7 mg/L (POU Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-2-4-d">Note: If the concentration is < 0.07 mg/L (POU Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-bis-2-ethylhexyl-phthalate">Note: If the concentration is < 0.006 mg/L (POU Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-trihalomethanes">Note: If the concentration is < 0.08 mg/L (POU Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-haloacetic-acids">Note: If the concentration is < 0.06 mg/L (POU Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-chlorite">Note: If the concentration is < 0.8 mg/L (POU Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-gross-alpha">Note: Temporary Solution: If the concentration of alpha is < 5 pCi/L (POU Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-beta-particles">Note: Temporary Solution: If the concentration is < 4 millirems/year (POU Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-radium-226-and-radium-228">Note: Temporary Solution: If combined concentration is less than 5 pCi/L and alpha, beta, and uranium are below drinking water limit (POU Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-total-dissolved-solids">Note: Consider this treatment If the problem appears to be related to a metal or hardness.</div>

View
Crystal QuestLT-CRYS-W-01 | Whole-House Water-Softener System

<div class="product-note in-L6-gross-alpha">Note: If alpha is < 5 pCi/L and Radium 228 and Radium 226 are < 5 pCi/L  (POE Device)</div>

View
Filter WaterLT-FILT-W-02 | Water Softener and Whole-House Dual System

<div class="product-note in-L6-beta-particles">Note: If the beta  dosage equivalent is < 4 millirems/year and Radium 226 + Radium 228 is < 5 pCi/L - (POE Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-radium-226-and-radium-228">Note: If combined radium concentration is < 5 pCi/L and alpha, beta, uranium, and radon are low - (POE Device)</div>

View

Level 3 | Informational Testing

Level 3 Testing is done through an accredited Water Testing Laboratory. With Level 3 Testing, you can order a testing kit that is used to prepare your sample and submit it to the lab. By utilizing a lab, you have the assurance that a certified water expert had analyzed your water sample. If your test results reveal the presence of a contaminant that is cause for concern, you can either proceed to determine the best treatment options (see below) or continue to Level 4 Testing - Certified Testing.

Notes on Level 3 Testing for Manganese

Manganese is an often overlooked contaminant when individuals are evaluating the hardness of most drinking water. Manganese issues can be expressed in several ways:

  • Un-diagnosed elevated manganese will cause a water softener, oxidizing filter, or a UV treatment system to produce discolored water.
  • In City Water systems, a chemical is used to sequester the Manganese that is present and you won't know manganese is in the water until it exceeds the sequestering capacity of the sequestering chemical at which point the manganese causes discoloration or other aesthetic issues which will happen quicker if you install a pre-treatment system.
Recommended Level 3 Tests
National Testing LabsWaterCheck® Standard

<div class="product-note in-L4-sulfur-treatment">Note: Use in combination with Sulfate-Reducing Bacteria Test</div>

View
National Testing LabsCityCheck Standard

<div class="product-note in-L4-sulfur-treatment">Note: Use in combination with Sulfate-Reducing Bacteria Test</div>

View
Crystal QuestTriple Under-Sink Water Filter, 8-Stage

<div class="product-note in-L6-benzene">Note: If the concentration is < 0.005 mg/L (POU Device) </div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-carbon-tetrachloride">Note: If the concentration is < 0.004 mg/L (POU Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-chloroform-trichloromethane">Note: If the concentration of trihalomethanes is < 0.08 mg/L (POU Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-ethylbenzene">Note: If the concentration is < 0.03 mg/L (POU Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-methylene-chloride-dichloromethane-dcm">Note: If the concentration is < 0.005 mg/L (POU Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-mtbe-methyl-tert-butyl-ether">Note: If the concentration is < 0.07 mg/L (POU Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-tetrachloroethylene">Note: If the concentration is < 0.005 mg/L (POU Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-toluene">Note: If the concentration is less than 0.8 mg/L</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-xylenes">Note: If the concentration is < 1.0 mg/L (POU Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-atrazine">Note: If the concentration is < 0.001 mg/L (POU Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-alachlor">Note: If the concentration is < 0.002 mg/L (POU Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-glyphosate">Note: If the concentration is < 0.7 mg/L (POU Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-2-4-d">Note: If the concentration is < 0.07 mg/L (POU Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-bis-2-ethylhexyl-phthalate">Note: If the concentration is < 0.006 mg/L (POU Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-trihalomethanes">Note: If the concentration is < 0.08 mg/L (POU Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-haloacetic-acids">Note: If the concentration is < 0.06 mg/L (POU Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-chlorite">Note: If the concentration is < 0.8 mg/L (POU Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-gross-alpha">Note: Temporary Solution: If the concentration of alpha is < 5 pCi/L (POU Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-beta-particles">Note: Temporary Solution: If the concentration is < 4 millirems/year (POU Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-radium-226-and-radium-228">Note: Temporary Solution: If combined concentration is less than 5 pCi/L and alpha, beta, and uranium are below drinking water limit (POU Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-total-dissolved-solids">Note: Consider this treatment If the problem appears to be related to a metal or hardness.</div>

View
Crystal QuestWhole-House Water-Softener System

<div class="product-note in-L6-gross-alpha">Note: If alpha is < 5 pCi/L and Radium 228 and Radium 226 are < 5 pCi/L  (POE Device)</div>

View
Filter WaterWater Softener and Whole-House Dual System (Code A27AC)

<div class="product-note in-L6-beta-particles">Note: If the beta  dosage equivalent is < 4 millirems/year and Radium 226 + Radium 228 is < 5 pCi/L - (POE Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-radium-226-and-radium-228">Note: If combined radium concentration is < 5 pCi/L and alpha, beta, uranium, and radon are low - (POE Device)</div>

View

Level 4 | Certified Testing

A Level 4 Certified Test Test uses chain-of-custody with a water professional coming to your home to prepare the water sample and then works with an accredited laboratory in order to certify your test results. This type of testing not only gives you the highest level of assurance in the accuracy of your test results, but can also be used as a document in legal cases. For Baseline Testing, we recommend that you use Certified Testing.

Notes on Level 4 Testing for Manganese

When addressing a manganese concern, it is necessary to know the cause of the problem and the source of the water. In some cases, the elevated manganese is caused by a localized disturbance. When the disturbance ends, the manganese can be flushed from the source. Prior to conducting certified testing, we suggest a comprehensive informational water test and for private water systems a Neighborhood Environmental Report.

Get Treatment | Manganese

For a drinking water system with a manganese problem, it is critical to get the water quality tested and confirm the form or oxidation state of the manganese and what other contaminants are present in the water. If the water enters the home discolored, it may be possible to install a backwashable particle filter because some of the manganese has already oxidized into a particle, but if the water enters and it is only slightly discolored or appears clear and then becomes discolored over time, it will be necessary to install either an oxidation filtration system or an ion-exchange system. Because these approaches are dependent on the chemistry and biological quality of your drinking water, both approaches will require performance evaluation, i.e., periodic testing, and maintenance.

Short Term Treatment

In the short-term you can consider point-of-use devices to remove manganese from the water or consider providing a temporary water source. We do not recommend boiling the water even though boiling would cause the manganese to oxidize and likely precipitate or settle out of the water. Water with a manganese problem may also contain elevated levels of iron, arsenic, and other trace metals. Get a comprehensive water quality analysis and consider using either a point-of-use device or an alternative potable water source, like bottled water.  If you suspect the manganese is associated with a nuisance bacterial problem, it is advisable to shock-disinfect and flush the well or water distribution system.

Recommended Short-Term Treatments

<div class="product-note in-L4-sulfur-treatment">Note: Use in combination with Sulfate-Reducing Bacteria Test</div>

View

<div class="product-note in-L4-sulfur-treatment">Note: Use in combination with Sulfate-Reducing Bacteria Test</div>

View

<div class="product-note in-L6-benzene">Note: If the concentration is < 0.005 mg/L (POU Device) </div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-carbon-tetrachloride">Note: If the concentration is < 0.004 mg/L (POU Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-chloroform-trichloromethane">Note: If the concentration of trihalomethanes is < 0.08 mg/L (POU Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-ethylbenzene">Note: If the concentration is < 0.03 mg/L (POU Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-methylene-chloride-dichloromethane-dcm">Note: If the concentration is < 0.005 mg/L (POU Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-mtbe-methyl-tert-butyl-ether">Note: If the concentration is < 0.07 mg/L (POU Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-tetrachloroethylene">Note: If the concentration is < 0.005 mg/L (POU Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-toluene">Note: If the concentration is less than 0.8 mg/L</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-xylenes">Note: If the concentration is < 1.0 mg/L (POU Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-atrazine">Note: If the concentration is < 0.001 mg/L (POU Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-alachlor">Note: If the concentration is < 0.002 mg/L (POU Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-glyphosate">Note: If the concentration is < 0.7 mg/L (POU Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-2-4-d">Note: If the concentration is < 0.07 mg/L (POU Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-bis-2-ethylhexyl-phthalate">Note: If the concentration is < 0.006 mg/L (POU Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-trihalomethanes">Note: If the concentration is < 0.08 mg/L (POU Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-haloacetic-acids">Note: If the concentration is < 0.06 mg/L (POU Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-chlorite">Note: If the concentration is < 0.8 mg/L (POU Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-gross-alpha">Note: Temporary Solution: If the concentration of alpha is < 5 pCi/L (POU Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-beta-particles">Note: Temporary Solution: If the concentration is < 4 millirems/year (POU Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-radium-226-and-radium-228">Note: Temporary Solution: If combined concentration is less than 5 pCi/L and alpha, beta, and uranium are below drinking water limit (POU Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-total-dissolved-solids">Note: Consider this treatment If the problem appears to be related to a metal or hardness.</div>

View

<div class="product-note in-L6-gross-alpha">Note: If alpha is < 5 pCi/L and Radium 228 and Radium 226 are < 5 pCi/L  (POE Device)</div>

View

<div class="product-note in-L6-beta-particles">Note: If the beta  dosage equivalent is < 4 millirems/year and Radium 226 + Radium 228 is < 5 pCi/L - (POE Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-radium-226-and-radium-228">Note: If combined radium concentration is < 5 pCi/L and alpha, beta, uranium, and radon are low - (POE Device)</div>

View
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Long Term Treatment

In the long-term the problem with manganese can usually be resolved after the cause for the condition has been documented and the chemistry and biological quality has been investigated. Common treatment systems for Manganese include phosphate treatment (sequestration approach commonly used by city water sources), an ion-exchange water softener, oxidizing filters, aeration filtration systems, and chemical oxidation using a strong oxidizer.

These treatment techniques are effective in water that has an almost neutral pH (approximately 7.0). The phosphate compound treatment is an exception and is effective in the pH range of 5.0 to 8.0.


Phosphate treatment
- Low levels of dissolved iron and manganese at combined concentrations up to 3 mg/l can be remedied using the phosphate compound treatment. Phosphate compounds are a family of chemicals that can surround minerals and keep them in solution. Phosphate compounds injected into the water system can stabilize and disperse dissolved manganese at this level. As a result, the iron and manganese are not available to react with oxygen and remain in solution.The phosphate compounds must be introduced into the water at a point where the manganese is still dissolved in order to maintain water clarity and prevent possible iron staining. This should be before the pressure tank and as close to the well discharge point as possible. Phosphate compound treatment is a relatively inexpensive way to treat water for low levels of iron and manganese. Since phosphate compounds do not actually remove manganese, water treated with these chemicals will retain a metallic taste. In addition, too great a concentration of phosphate compounds will make the water feel slippery.

Phosphate compounds are not stable at high temperatures. If phosphate compound-treated water is heated (for example, in a water heater or boiled water), the phosphates will break down and release iron and manganese. The released iron and manganese will then react with oxygen and precipitate.

Adding phosphate compounds is not recommended where the use of phosphate in most cleaning products is banned. Phosphate, from any source, contributes to excess nutrient content in surface water.


Ion-exchange water-softener - Low to moderate levels of dissolved manganese and iron, at less than 5 mg/L concentrations usually can be removed using an ion-exchange water-softener. Be sure to check the manufacturer's maximum manganese and iron removal level recommendations before you purchase a unit. Capacities for treating dissolved manganese and iron typically can range from 1 to 5 mg/L. Already oxidized manganese and iron particles or levels of dissolved manganese and iron exceeding the manufacturer's recommendations will cause a softener to become plugged.

The principle is the same as that used to remove the hardness minerals, calcium and magnesium; i.e., manganese and iron in the untreated water are exchanged with sodium or potassium on the ion-exchange-medium. Manganese and iron are flushed from the softener medium by backwashing and the manganese and iron are carried away in the wastewater. Sodium from the ion-exchange medium remains in the drinking water and could be a possible problem for those with high blood pressure.

Since manganeses and iron removal reduces the softening capacity of the unit, the softener will have to be recharged more often. The manufacturer of the softener medium is able to make recommendations concerning the appropriate material to use for a particular concentration of manganese and iron. Some manufacturers recommend adding a "bed cleaning" chemical with each backwashing to prevent clogging.

Not all water softeners are able to remove manganese and iron from water. The manufacturer's specifications should indicate whether or not the equipment is appropriate for manganese and iron removal.

Water softeners add sodium or potassium to the water, a health concern for people on sodium-restricted diets and reduce the total hardness of the water. Consider installing a separate faucet to provide unsoftened water for cooking and drinking.


Oxidizing filter - An oxidizing filter treatment system is an option for moderate levels of dissolved iron and manganese at combined concentrations up to 15 mg/L. The filter material is usually natural manganese greensand or manufactured zeolite coated with manganese oxide, which adsorbs dissolved iron and manganese. Synthetic zeolite requires less backwash water and softens the water as it removes iron and manganese. The system must be selected and operated based on the amount of dissolved oxygen. Dissolved oxygen content can be determined by field test kits, some water treatment companies or in a laboratory.


Aeration followed by filtration - High levels of dissolved iron and manganese at combined concentrations up to 25 mg/L can be oxidized to a solid form by aeration (mixing with air). For domestic water processing, the "pressure-type aerator" often is used.

In this system, air is sucked in and mixed with the passing stream of water. This air-saturated water then enters the precipitator/aerator vessel where the air separates from the water. From this point, the water flows through a filter where various filter media are used to screen out oxidized particles of iron, manganese, and some carbonate or sulfate.

The most important maintenance step involved in the operation is periodic backwashing of the filter. Manganese oxidation is slower than for iron and requires greater quantities of oxygen. Aeration is not recommended for water containing organic complexes of iron/manganese or iron/manganese bacteria that will clog the aspirator and filter.

Chemical oxidation followed by filtration - High levels of dissolved or oxidized iron and manganese greater than 10 mg/L can be treated by chemical oxidation, using an oxidizing chemical such as chlorine, followed by a sand-trap filter to remove the precipitated material. Iron or manganese also can be oxidized from the dissolved to solid form by adding potassium permanganate, hydrogen peroxide, or Ozone to the untreated water. This treatment approach is particularly valuable when iron is combined with organic matter or when iron bacteria are present. I have done research using ozone and Ozone Iron and Manganese Removal is a great approach.

The oxidizing chemical is put into the water by a small feed pump that operates when the well pump operates. This may be done in the well, but typically is done just before the water enters a storage tank. A retention time of at least 20 minutes is required to allow oxidation to take place. The resulting solid particles then must be filtered. When large concentrations of iron are present, a flushing sand filter may be needed for the filtering process.

If organic-complexed or colloidal iron/manganese is present in untreated water, a longer contact time and higher concentrations of chemicals are necessary for oxidation to take place. Adding aluminum sulfate (alum) improves filtration by causing larger iron/manganese particles to form.

When chlorine is used as the oxidizing agent, excess chlorine remains in treated water. If the particle filter is made of calcite, sand, anthracite, or aluminum silicate, a minimum quantity of chlorine should be used to avoid the unpleasant taste that results from excess chlorine. An activated-carbon filter can be used to remove excess chlorine and small quantities of solid iron/manganese particles.

Any filtration material requires frequent and regular backwashing or replacement to eliminate the solid iron/manganese particles. Some units have an automatic backwash cycle to handle this task.

The ideal pH range for chlorine bleach to oxidize iron is 6.5 to 7.5. Chlorination is not the method of choice for high manganese levels since a pH greater than 9.5 is required for complete oxidation. Potassium permanganate will effectively oxidize manganese at pH values above 7.5 and is more effective than chlorine oxidation of organic iron if that is a problem.

Potassium permanganate is poisonous and a skin irritant. There must be no excess potassium permanganate in treated water and the concentrated chemical must be stored in its original container away from children and animals. Careful calibration, maintenance, and monitoring are required when potassium permanganate is used as an oxidizing agent.

Warning:  Many years ago a small housing development in Pennsylvania was required by the State to start chlorinating its community water supply system.  They complied and shortly afterward black particles started appearing in their water system.  The black particles were not manganese dioxide (MnO2) but cupric oxide (CuO).  They happened to have a copper tank and were using  that to chlorinate the water.  The chlorination oxidized the copper metal which flaked off into the water as tiny black particles of cupric oxide which then spread throughout the water distribution system.  It is a bad idea to let any strong oxidant come into contact with copper, be it a tank or pipe.  Incidentally, the residual chlorine in city water is not usually a significant problem in the copper pipes of a house although, if the water sits in the copper pipes long enough, it could develop a bit of a copper taste.  

Recommended Long-Term Treatments

<div class="product-note in-L4-sulfur-treatment">Note: Use in combination with Sulfate-Reducing Bacteria Test</div>

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<div class="product-note in-L4-sulfur-treatment">Note: Use in combination with Sulfate-Reducing Bacteria Test</div>

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<div class="product-note in-L6-benzene">Note: If the concentration is < 0.005 mg/L (POU Device) </div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-carbon-tetrachloride">Note: If the concentration is < 0.004 mg/L (POU Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-chloroform-trichloromethane">Note: If the concentration of trihalomethanes is < 0.08 mg/L (POU Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-ethylbenzene">Note: If the concentration is < 0.03 mg/L (POU Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-methylene-chloride-dichloromethane-dcm">Note: If the concentration is < 0.005 mg/L (POU Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-mtbe-methyl-tert-butyl-ether">Note: If the concentration is < 0.07 mg/L (POU Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-tetrachloroethylene">Note: If the concentration is < 0.005 mg/L (POU Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-toluene">Note: If the concentration is less than 0.8 mg/L</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-xylenes">Note: If the concentration is < 1.0 mg/L (POU Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-atrazine">Note: If the concentration is < 0.001 mg/L (POU Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-alachlor">Note: If the concentration is < 0.002 mg/L (POU Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-glyphosate">Note: If the concentration is < 0.7 mg/L (POU Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-2-4-d">Note: If the concentration is < 0.07 mg/L (POU Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-bis-2-ethylhexyl-phthalate">Note: If the concentration is < 0.006 mg/L (POU Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-trihalomethanes">Note: If the concentration is < 0.08 mg/L (POU Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-haloacetic-acids">Note: If the concentration is < 0.06 mg/L (POU Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-chlorite">Note: If the concentration is < 0.8 mg/L (POU Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-gross-alpha">Note: Temporary Solution: If the concentration of alpha is < 5 pCi/L (POU Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-beta-particles">Note: Temporary Solution: If the concentration is < 4 millirems/year (POU Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-radium-226-and-radium-228">Note: Temporary Solution: If combined concentration is less than 5 pCi/L and alpha, beta, and uranium are below drinking water limit (POU Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-total-dissolved-solids">Note: Consider this treatment If the problem appears to be related to a metal or hardness.</div>

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<div class="product-note in-L6-gross-alpha">Note: If alpha is < 5 pCi/L and Radium 228 and Radium 226 are < 5 pCi/L  (POE Device)</div>

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<div class="product-note in-L6-beta-particles">Note: If the beta  dosage equivalent is < 4 millirems/year and Radium 226 + Radium 228 is < 5 pCi/L - (POE Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-radium-226-and-radium-228">Note: If combined radium concentration is < 5 pCi/L and alpha, beta, uranium, and radon are low - (POE Device)</div>

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