Underground drinking water sources provide potable nourishments to humans. However, sources or wells in some parts of the U.S. and in three Asian countries may not be as safe for drinking. This is because of the high level of Manganese detected in these areas.

Manganese deposit

Researchers from the University Of California conducted a study and they found out that high levels of manganese are present in shallow depths. This means it can easily find its way to underground water sources. Manganese is not alien to the human body but can only be consumed in very little amounts. In huge portions, it can be toxic especially when ingested by children with weaker immune systems.

University of California’s College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences led the study with the supervision of assistant professor Samantha Ying. The result of the study was recently published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology.

The levels of manganese discovered by the researchers exceed the guidelines mandated by the World Health Organization (WHO). The affected areas include Cambodia, Bangladesh, China and the Glacial Aquifer, composed of 26 states in the U.S. The Glacial Aquifer is known to provide Drinking water to a total of 41 million Americans, according to Eurekalert. Nevertheless, in all identified areas, the Glacial Aquifer has the lowest number of contaminated wells.

This must be carefully monitored

Previously, the monitoring committee gives the emphasis on detecting arsenic in water, however, there are other metals like manganese that can be a risk to the human body and therefore should be carefully monitored as well.

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Today, there are various studies that link manganese intake to neurological conditions like Parkinson’s disease. In children, intake of high levels of manganese can affect cognitive performance and neurodevelopment.

In order to collect the data, the researchers analyzed samples from 16,000 wells in the Glacial Aquifer (US), the Mekong Delta (Cambodia), Ganges-Brahmaputra-Mehta Basin (Bangladesh) and Yangtze River Basin (China). Levels of arsenic and manganese were monitored. They found out the arsenic level increased along with the depth while manganese levels decrease with depth. Together, the two heavy metals create an increased percentage of contamination in drinking water.

Professor Ying emphasized that disregarding the presence of manganese in water could lead to unfavorable results. WHO data shows that percentage of contamination increases when both heavy metals (arsenic and manganese) are considered. This can overestimate the number of safe wells in the regions.

Nevertheless, further problems can be avoided by careful monitoring and treatments. Underground sources found to have manganese concentration can easily be treated. Also, it can still be used for agricultural purposes unlike water sources contaminated with arsenic.