Manganese is one of the minerals the body requires for proper functioning. In addition to assisting with growth, the formation of bone, reproduction, and the metabolism of carbohydrates, Manganese is also essential for the brain and nervous system to function properly. Individuals may take Manganese supplements if there is a deficiency. Individuals rarely experience side effects when taking Manganese supplements. However, toxicity may occur if Manganese fumes are inhaled on a regular basis.
What is Manganism?
Because Manganese occurs naturally in the human body, normal controls exist to make sure that excesses are removed. However, if the body consumes too much Manganese, the controls may be unable to compensate for the imbalance. When toxic levels of Manganese exist in the human body and the person suffers severe damage to their nervous system, the person is said to have Manganism.
Causes of Manganism
Although there have been reports that Manganism can develop from consuming an excess of Manganese in food and drink, there have been very few cases cited. The most serious complications from exposure occur primarily through inhalation of Manganese dust. Inhalation of Manganese dust on a regular basis can irritate the lungs and result in a serious respiratory condition such as pneumonia. The big difference in exposure is how the body reacts. When too much Manganese enters the body, it is usually excreted through normal bodily functions. In the case of inhalation, the Manganese particles attach to the lungs and have no way of being released. If enough of these particles survive, they can get into the bloodstream and the stomach. Welders make up the largest group of those afflicted with Manganism because welding rods are made of Manganese.
The symptoms associated with exposure to toxic levels of Manganese usually don't develop for some time. In fact, it may take several months or years before for the following general symptoms develop:
- Muscle stiffness and soreness
- Fatigue and weakness
- Speech disturbances
- Loss of coordination
- Abnormal walk
- Leg cramps or weakness
- Fixed facial expression
- Difficulty breathing
- Difficulty swallowing
- Slow and clumsy movements
It is imperative that an individual suspecting that they have toxic Manganese exposure seek professional help. The sooner the disease is caught the better. Although the damage that Manganism causes to the central nervous system cannot be reversed, early detection can provide an individual with a longer and more pleasant life.
When an individual is diagnosed with Manganism, the normal course of treatment is to administer drugs to relieve some of the symptoms, and therapy to learn to cope with the condition. The typical drug treatment includes Levodopa Trihexphenidyl, Trihexphenidyl, Bromocriptine, and Amantidine. These drugs have had very little success in chronic forms of the disease. One promising drug that has recently been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of Manganism is Ethylene Diamine Tetraacetic Acid (EDTA).
Individuals afflicted with Manganism who were exposed on the job can initiate personal injury claims against companies that manufacture products that contain Manganese. These individuals can sue for the following damages:
- Physical pain and suffering, mental anguish and physical impairment;
- Medical expenses associated with the allegedly defective product;
- Loss of earnings and/or earning capacity; and
- Punitive damages.
Major Legal Cases
The landmark Manganism case involving a welder and a maker of welding rods resulted in the plaintiff being awarded $1. Larry Elam brought suite against BOC Group, Hobart Brothers and Lincoln Electric because they manufactured welding rods that he believed caused his symptoms.
References and Resources