Manganese Poisoning from Welding Rods and the Environment
Welders and others who work or live near construction sites or in industrial areas may be at a greater risk of developing Manganese poisoning or Manganese toxicity, a neurological disorder that closely resembles Parkinson’s disease. Links have been made between welding rods, Manganese toxicity, and Manganese poisoning. Studies on welders using welding rods that contain Manganese indicates that there may be a strong link between fumes and dust released while welding and a series of serious injuries and deaths among welders and others exposed to those fumes. Among the groups who are at the greatest risk for Manganese toxicity and Manganese poisoning include welders, railroad workers, miners, and steel workers. Manganese is also present in some pesticides, such as maneb or mancozeb, and in methylcyclopentadienyl Manganese tricarbonyl (MMT), a fuel additive in some gasolines.
Fumes released when Manganese is burned contain several chemicals, including manganese, fluorine, zinc, lead, arsenic, calcium, sulfur, chrome, and nickel. In addition, these fumes also contain the gases carbon monoxide (CO), carbon dioxide (CO²), various nitrogen oxides (NO, NO², and others), and ozone. Each of these chemicals has the potential to harm the body. Of these, Manganese is especially toxic. Medical studies of people who have been exposed to Manganese indicate that “Abnormal and toxic concentrations of Manganese in the brain, especially in the basal ganglia, are associated with neurological disorders similar to Parkinson’s disease” (Takeda, 2003) Exposure to high levels of manganese, such as those inhaled by a welder, are known to be harmful to the central nervous system. Manganese poisoning and Manganese toxicity may develop with as little as three months exposure. Symptoms of Manganese neurotoxicity include a shuffling gait, slack facial muscles, speech difficulties (including slurred speech), depression, and general psychological imbalance. A recent clinical study of welders exposed to Manganese found that welders who had developed Parkinson’s disease typically began showing symptoms 15 years earlier than typical Parkinson’s patients. Doctors are still researching this possible link between welding, manganese, and Parkinson’s disease.
Other research has also linked Manganese to serious complications. A Canadian research team found that “chronic exposure to Manganese leads to selective dopaminergic dysfunction, neuronal loss, and gliosis in basal ganglia structures together with characteristic astrocytic changes known as Alzheimer type II astrocytosis (Normandin, 2002)
The risk for Manganese poisoning has been well established. However, these risks of Manganese toxicity have been ignored by the manufacturers of welding rods. We invite you to read the rest of this special report to learn more about the dangers of Manganese exposure, Manganese toxicity and how you can be compensated for any injuries you may have suffered as a result of Manganese toxicity.
Manganism: What is Manganism, Welder’s-Disease?
Manganism (AKA welder’s-disease) is another name for a collection of symptoms that result from excessive manganese exposure. Manganism has also been called “Parkinson’s syndrome” because its symptoms closely resemble those of Parkinson’s disease, a devastating and fatal neurological illness. Manganism is also called welder’s-disease because of the high incidence in welders and those exposed to the fumes from welding rods.
Incredibly, the health effects of welding and associated manganese exposure have been known for more than 150 years. In 1837, scientists described manganism as a syndrome similar to Parkinson’s disease. These first cases of manganism, welder’s-disease, appeared in Scottish workers exposed to high levels of dust while grinding “black oxide of manganese” in a chemical plant. Since then, manganism, welder’s-disease, has been described in several groups of highly exposed miners and other workers. (Iregren, 1999)
In 1993, the National Institute of Health (NIH) issued a report about manganism, welder’s-disease, manganese poisoning. According to the NIH, “Occupational exposure to manganese for periods from 6 months to 2 years can result in manganism, a disease of the central nervous system characterized by psychogenic and neurological disorders with symptoms resembling Parkinson’s disease.” The NIH report also noted that prolonged manganese exposure had been connected to reduced white blood cell counts, sexual dysfunction and impotence.
To understand welder’s-disease (also known as manganism), it helps to understand manganese toxicity. Manganese is one of the most commonly used metals in manufacturing. Although used in several industrial applications, manganese does not occur naturally, but is actually a component of more than 100 minerals, including sulfides, oxides, carbonates, silicates, phosphates and borates. In small amounts, manganese is a necessary element for maintaining good health, including the proper development of growing children. In excessive amounts, however, manganese becomes toxic. Women who are pregnant, or who think they might be pregnant, should avoid manganese exposure at the work place (Gerber, et al 2002).
In the human body, manganese is concentrated mainly in the liver, skeleton, pancreas and brain. Small amounts of manganese are beneficial for human health, and have been shown to have potentially beneficial effects for patients with epilepsy. Manganese has also shown promise in alleviating menstrual symptoms and premenstrual syndrome (PMS). However, too much manganese exposure is harmful. Exposure in the levels experienced by welders and nearby workers is unhealthy and dangerous.
Manganese should not be confused with Magnesium, a mineral that is essential for human nutrition.
Who is at risk for welding rod manganism, welder’s-disease?
Recent manganism, welder’s-disease, research has focused on the welding rod industry. Welders are apparently at a greater risk of manganese poisoning than most. Thus, manganism is also known as welder’s-disease or welding rod disease. However, welding rod use is not the only potential source of manganese exposure. Other workers may also be at risk of manganism. In addition to welding, on-the-job exposure to manganese occurs mainly in mining, alloy production, processing, ferro-manganese operations, and work with agrochemicals (Levy & Nassetta, 2003).
Manganese also enters the air from iron, steel and power plants, coke ovens and from dust in mining operations. Those who are at the greatest risk of this airborne exposure again include welders, along with railroad workers, miners, steel workers, and those who handle pesticides containing maneb and mancozeb. This list is not conclusive, and there are other groups that may be affected. Contact a qualified medical professional for an evaluation if you feel that you have been poisoned by manganese exposure.
Additional research suggests that men may be at greater risk of manganism than women, although effects were also observed in women (Mergler, et al 1999). Men’s risk may be greater because they are more likely to have a job that exposes them to higher levels of manganese. Most welders, construction workers and other people in jobs that place them at risk for manganism are men. Obvious symptoms may not develop until after age 50; however, subtle, less noticeable symptoms of manganism may also appear in individuals who are younger and who have experienced prolonged, low-level exposure to manganese.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued a paper connecting manganese poisoning to Parkinson’s-like manganism; asthenia, insomnia, mental confusion; metal fume fever, dry throat, coughing, tight chest; dyspnea, rales, flu-like fever; lower-back pain, vomiting, malaise and fatigue.
Primary Causes of Manganism Welding rods and other metal materials contain the potentially harmful element manganese. When heated, manganese rods release toxic fumes. The inhalation of these fumes lead to manganese toxicity, a neurological disorder that resembles Parkinson’s disease (PD). The National Parkinson’s Foundation confirms that occupational exposures to manganese have been linked with clinical parkinsonism. Furthermore, exposure to the combination of manganese and iron, a common mixture in occupational welding environments, has been related to elevated PD risk.
Secondary Causes of Manganism Manganism may also be caused by exposure to dust created by welding rods and other items that contain manganese. Exposure to high levels of airborne manganese, from welding rod fumes or from fumes such as in a manganese foundry or battery plant, can affect motor skills such as holding one’s hand steady, performing fast hand movements, and maintaining balance. Exposure to high levels of the manganese toxicity may also cause respiratory problems and sexual dysfunction.
Who is responsible for manganese poisoning settlements?
The makers of welding rods were aware of the problems associated with manganese poisoning—yet they continue to use this potentially harmful element in their products.
Scientists have known about manganese poisoning and the symptoms of manganese poisoning for more than 150 years. Manganese poisoning is one of the most documented of all complications caused by environmental toxins. Manufacturers, however, continue to use manganese in welding rods and other applications. Factory employees who use manganese have also shown symptoms of manganese poisoning, but in many incidences, steps have not been taken to adequately reduce the level manganese exposure in the workplace. Those working with or near welding rods are the people who may be entitled to welding rod litigation settlements.
Welders who have developed Parkinson’s disease (or similar symptoms) as a result of manganese poisoning may wish to file a complaint for a possible class action suit seeking manganese settlements. The welding rod litigation suit would allege that welding-supply companies failed to warn employees about thedangers of manganese poisoning, including neurological and central nervous system problems (dangers which have been known since 1837), and that they are responsible for paying manganese poisoning settlements.
If you feel you have a welding rod litigation case and wish to seek manganese settlements for damages or remedies that might be awarded in a class action, please complete the manganese poisoning litigation form here for your free consultation
What is being done about welding fumes
What is being done about manganese exposure causing manganism?
Researchers are still investigating the link between welding rod fumes and manganism. Welding rod litigation has now begun to help those who suffer the ill health effects of welding and manganese exposure.
Efforts are being made to reduce the risk of environmental manganese exposure. In 1994, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) denied a petition by Ethyl Corporation to allow the use of methylcyclopentadienyl manganese tricarbonyl (MMT) in unleaded gasoline, because of health concerns related to the inhalation of manganese fumes (Davis, 1999).
Other environmental laws have been enacted to limit manganese exposure and welding fume toxicity. However, some scientists feel that more needs to be done about manganism and welding fumes. Researchers studying the health effects of welding fumes report a “preponderance of proof for manganese neurotoxicity” even in present-day industrial settings (Iregren 1999).
According to the U.S. Department of Labor Mine Safety and Health Administration, Welding Fumes Sampling is required due to the “potential hazards of welding operations including metal fumes, toxic gases, and ultraviolet and infrared radiation. Fume particles are formed from vaporization of molten metal. They are very fine in size, generally one micron or smaller, and may join together to form larger particles. Welding fumes can be sampled by drawing air through a special filter at a controlled rate.
“The adverse health effects of welding exposure include chronic or acute systemic poisoning, metal fume fever (a short-term painful ailment with symptoms of fever and chills), pneumoconiosis (lung disease due to accumulation of mineral or metallic particles), and irritation of the respiratory tract.
“The welding fumes produced at welding operations depend primarily on the composition of the metals being welded and the welding rods. When the base metal is iron or steel, with welding rods of similar composition, the main component of the welding fume will be iron oxide. When welding on stainless steel, welding fumes containing nickel and chromium may be produced. Welding on plated, galvanized or painted metals may generate fumes containing cadmium, zinc oxide or lead. In addition, welding rods can generate fluoride and free silica in the fumes, depending on the composition of the welding rod coating.
“In summary, welding processes may generate many different metal fumes and other toxic components. It is important that the hazards of a welding operation be evaluated properly. Toxic gases that arise in welding include carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxides and ozone. If welding or cutting operations are conducted in the presence of chlorinated hydrocarbons, such as the form of solvents either on the metals or in the air, hazardous concentrations of phosgene and hydrogen chloride, which are highly toxic irritant gases, may be produced.
“In addition to the health hazards of metal welding fumes and toxic gases, welding operations involve the hazard of burns from flame, arc, molten metal, heated surfaces and also that of metal splatter. …When personal respiratory protection is required, this may be provided by a supplied-air welding hood or, when the components and concentration of the fume are known, by a filter-type respirator with filter for protection against welding fumes. It is preferable, of course, that adequate ventilation be provided so as to make the use of respirators unnecessary.
“When sampling for welding fumes, the inspector will use a filter cassette placed on the collar or shoulder so that it is beneath the helmet when the helmet is placed down. The sampling pump is fastened to the belt. Samples [for welding fumes] may be full shift or short-term. Short-term samples may be taken to evaluate toxic [welding fume] components which have short-term limits. In addition, the inspector may sample for toxic gases such as ozone, nitrogen oxides or phosgene. It is important that the welder carry out the welding operation in a normal way, so that an accurate evaluation of the exposure can be made. The inspector will attach and remove the filter cassette and pump as required.
“Normally, good local or general ventilation is required to control exposures to the metal welding fumes and gases of welding operations. The most effective control is local exhaust ventilation in which an exhaust hood is placed near the welding arc or flame, and the ‘welding fume contaminants’ are drawn away from the welder’s breathing zone. The system may consist of moveable exhaust hoods, flexible and stationary ducts, a powered fan, and a welding fume or dust collector. Exhausted air containing welding fumes should be discharged to the outdoors, if possible. It is important that, during the welding operation, the exhaust hoods are placed or set so that welding fumes are not drawn across the worker’s face or into the breathing zone. Good general ventilation should be provided. Welding in confined spaces, such as tanks, cabs of mobile equipment and large shovels, may be especially hazardous and require additional ventilation to reduce welding fumes.”
http://www.msha.gov Citation as of 11-15-2004.
What can you do about the health hazards of manganese?
What can you do about the health effects of welding (manganism)?
Tests are available to determine your level of manganese exposure and to assess the possibility of ill health effects of welding. Early diagnosis and treatment of Parkinson’s disease, Parkinson’s syndrome, manganism, health effects of welding, and related neurological disorders is important. While there is no cure for manganism, early diagnosis and treatment can improve the patient’s quality of life.
You may qualify for welding rod litigation compensation if you or someone you love has suffered the health effects of welding. Contact a qualified attorney who is familiar with the health hazards of manganese and manganism to discuss your litigation options. Learn the hazardous risks of manganese and manganism? Information from the NIH – Environmental Health Perspectives Volume 106, Number 2, February 1998. Found athttp://ehpnet1.niehs.nih.gov (as of 11/17/2004).
“Public health officials, scientists and regulators worry that a gasoline additive containing manganese, claimed by its maker to boost engine performance, may cause physical harm by increasing the amount of manganese in the air. Ethyl Corporation of Richmond, Virginia, which makes methylcyclopentadienyl manganese tricarbonyl (MMT), disputes such worries, and says the manganese emitted into the air when MMT is burned poses no risk to human health.
“The concerns about the additive come as the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ASTDR) is completing a toxicological profile of manganese to assess sources of exposure and the metal’s impact on health. The agency is required to prepare such profiles for hazardous substances found at the nation’s most serious hazardous waste sites—those on the EPA’s National Priorities List of Superfund sites. Of 1,430 sites on the list, 644 (or 45%) have ‘excessive levels of manganese,’ according to the ATSDR. Excessive levels are those greater than background in the environment.
“A trace element, manganese is an essential part of the diet and can easily be obtained from grains and nuts. Manganese deficiency can lead to bone problems and stunted growth. Excess dietary manganese is simply excreted. A number of studies have shown that occupational exposure to manganese can lead to Parkinson’s disease-like symptoms such as muscle tremors.
“Manganese is used to give strength to steel and aluminum. Manganese levels in the air can vary widely, being higher near foundries and metal plants and lower away from such facilities. But it is chronic exposure to manganese compounds emitted in the exhaust of vehicles fueled by MMT-boosted gas that has raised the most concerns.
“Canada banned the import of MMT this year—none of the additive is made there—due to concerns over possible health effects. MMT had been used in Canadian gasoline for nearly 20 years. Ethyl is fighting the ban. A U.S. appeals court in Washington, DC, overturned an EPA ban on MMT in 1995, saying the agency acted illegally by attempting to ban the additive on health grounds under the Clean Air Act (CAA). The court said that under the CAA, the EPA could only consider MMT’s effect on engine performance. But California has successfully kept the additive out of unleaded gasoline sold in that state for approximately 20 years because of a ‘lack of data on the health effects of breathing manganese,’ says Richard Vincent, a spokesman for the California Air Resources Board.
“‘Widespread exposure to manganese,’ says Michael Davis, senior health scientist and acting chief of the EPA’s Hazardous Pollutant Assessment Branch, ‘may cause neurological damage, as well as harm to the lungs and the reproductive system. We didn’t feel like those areas were adequately evaluated [in considering exposure from MMT],’ he says. Davis notes studies that show workers who were occupationally exposed to manganese were subject to pneumonia and coughs. He also cites a 1973 study that suggested an increase in respiratory illnesses in Japanese students living near a factory emitting manganese.
“A draft toxicological profile for manganese prepared by the ATSDR cites studies showing that men occupationally exposed to manganese have impaired fertility as well as impotence and loss of libido. However, data on the health effects of manganese exposure are scanty and inconclusive, according to the profile.
“‘Moreover,’ says Monica Campbell, a Toronto toxicologist and spokesperson for the Ontario Public Health Association, ‘studies of MMT have failed to consider the impact of manganese from MMT on people living near major arterial roads. They are a vulnerable population more exposed to vehicle exhausts,’ she says.
“A study of laboratory rats, presented at the Arkansas conference by researchers Hans Tjälve and Jörgen Henriksson of the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences in Uppsala, found that, when inhaled through the nose, manganese can enter the brain and reach the spinal column. Says EPA Neuroscientist Kenneth Hudnell, ‘This is a whole new route of exposure that hasn’t been considered before. It bypasses all protective barriers that we have.’
“And in an EPA-funded study, Donna Mergler, a neurophysiologist at the Université du Québec at Montréal, and colleagues found a relationship between manganese levels in the blood and neuromotor slowing problems in people who lived near, but did not work in, a former manganese alloy production plant. Higher blood manganese levels were also linked to learning and memory problems in men over the age of 50. But the findings from this research are preliminary, cautions Hudnell, who was a researcher on the study. ‘It simply points out the need for more research,’ he says.
“Donald Lynam, an Ethyl vice president and scientist, takes a different view. Lynam says that MMT adds virtually no manganese to the air. He points to the conclusions of an Ethyl-sponsored study, also presented at the Arkansas conference, that found that MMT’s contribution of manganese to the air in Toronto was trivial.
“He further points to a review by the Canadian agency Health Canada that concludes that it is impossible to assess the impact of MMT on manganese in the air. The 1994 review, however, did recommend monitoring for MMT because use of the additive has increased substantially in recent years.
“Ethyl’s position on the potential health hazards of manganese generated by MMT is unambiguous. According to a statement on the Ethyl Web site, “[N]o evidence exists suggesting that MMT presents any risk to public health, much less a significant risk.”
“Meanwhile, MMT can be and is being added to gasoline in the United States. According to the EPA, MMT was added to 11 million gallons of gasoline during the summer of 1997. That is an extremely small portion of the billions of gallons of gas that are sold each year, according to the agency. But the EPA’s concern over the manganese MMT puts into the air isn’t assuaged. The agency is still talking with Ethyl Corporation to decide what types of health effects testing it wants done on animals exposed to the manganese generated when MMT is burned in gasoline.
What is Manganism?
Manganism is a central nervous system disease caused by manganese exposure, a toxic element commonly found in welding rod fumes. Symptoms of manganism resemble those of Parkinson’s disease, including slurred speech, trembling hands and an unsteady gait.
Can welding rods cause someone to have manganism?
Manganism is caused by long-term exposure to high levels of manganese toxicity, typically as a result of inhaling fumes or dust that contain the material. Frequently, people who work with welding rods, or near people working with welding rods, inhale fumes that contain poisonous manganese materials.
What is the connection between welding rods and manganism?
Welding rods contain a high concentration of manganese toxicity. When heated, the manganese in the welding rod releases toxic fumes that are inhaled by the welder and others who might be nearby. Welders show a higher-than-normal average of manganese exposure and, consequently, manganese poisoning.
I’m not a welder. Am I at risk for manganese poisoning?
Although investigation surrounding manganism has focused on welding rods, there are several other sources of manganese toxicities in the environment. On-the-job manganese exposure occurs mainly in mining, alloy production, processing, ferro-manganese operations, and work with agrochemicals. People living near construction sites, or other locations where welding rods are being used, may also be at risk.
What should I do if I am suffering from welding rod manganism?
Consult your doctor if you believe you may be suffering manganese poisoning. Make sure that your doctor is aware of the similarities between manganism and Parkinson’s disease. If you, or someone you love, has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s, talk to your doctor about the possibility of manganese exposure. Some doctors may not be aware of the risk associated with manganism. You may wish to consult a specialist who is familiar with manganism, its symptoms and its treatment.
Is there a test for manganese toxicity?
Yes. Doctors working with patients who have manganism can administer a test to determine the extent of manganese poisoning, as well as the likelihood that the illness is the result of manganese exposure.
Can anything be done to cure the health effects of manganism?
Not yet. The disease can, however, be managed to some extent; although, like Parkinson’s disease, there is no known cure at this time. Manganism is considered a chronic condition, in that it remains with the sufferer for the rest of his or her life.
What are my welding rod litigation rights on manganese exposure?
Courts have begun to award damages to those plaintiffs who can demonstrate that their health issues are the result of manganese exposure and toxicity.
Chemical Sampling Information: Manganese Fumes – From the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).http://www.osha.gov/dts/chemicalsampling/data/CH_250200.html
Parkinsonism due to Manganism in a Welder – from the International Journal of Toxicology. Study supports the hypothesis that welding can produce enough exposure to manganese to produce neurologic impairment. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
The web’s only site dedicated to Welder’s Disease Resources & Information www.welders-disease.org
Assessment of male reproductive system in the CD-1 mice following oral manganese exposure. – from the Journal of Reproductive Toxicology. The results of this study suggest that exposure to manganese caused a statistically significant (P<0.001) decrease in sperm motility and sperm counts in mice.