Manganese is a trace element and the intake of small amounts from food or water is needed to stay healthy. Exposure to excess levels of manganese may occur from breathing air, particularly where manganese is used in manufacturing. At high levels, manganese can cause damage to the brain.
The most common health problems in workers exposed to high levels of manganese involve the nervous system. These health effects include behavioral changes and other nervous system effects, which include movements that may become slow and clumsy. Manganese intoxication can simulate Parkinson Disease symptoms. The combination of symptoms when sufficiently severe is referred to as “manganism”. Other less severe nervous system effects such as slowed hand movements have been observed in some workers exposed to lower concentrations in the work place.
Exposure to high levels of manganese in air can cause lung irritation and reproductive effects.
Nervous system and reproductive effects have been observed in animals after the ingestion of high oral doses of manganese.