Risk perception bulletin. Manganese

Posted on2022-07-08 by

What is manganese?

Manganese is a grayish metal similar to iron, but harder and more brittle. It is highly reactive chemically, not found in nature, but in a wide variety of minerals and ores.

Manganese metal is used in many metal alloys, especially steel, but also in aluminum alloys. Manganese contributes to the hardness and durability of steel and helps to counteract corrosion in aluminum alloys.

Aluminium alloys contain up to 1.5% manganese and steel alloys up to 2.5%, with significantly higher proportions in cases such as steel. Manganese is also often found in significant proportions in welding rods and filler metals, as it helps the flux flow easily due to its low boiling point compared to that of iron.

Manganese components have other uses in various applications, especially in the chemical and ceramic sectors.

How could manganese affect me?

Exposures to manganese in the workplace can lead to a wide range of adverse health effects: some may arise from acute short-term exposures, others from chronic, repetitive and long-term exposures.

Chronic health effects due to metallurgical production or manufacture

  • Male infertility
  • Damage to the central nervous system, more commonly known as manganism”
  • Early symptoms: drowsiness, weakness, mood swings
  • Symptoms of the advanced stage: slow speech, tremors, problems with motor movements
  • Pneumonia

Did you know that...?

Metalworkers and especially welders are prone to developing pneumonia infections. These can usually be treated with antibiotics, but there is a clear correlation between welders and an increased risk of developing severe or fatal pneumonia infections.

When do workplace exposures occur?


Often the main mode of exposure to manganese is by inhalation of dust and fumes from the production and handling of alloys and elemental manganese. In metallurgical manufacturing, the welding, sanding, cutting, drilling and polishing of manganese-containing alloys can give rise to important exposures.

What are welding fumes?

Most welding smoke is composed of filler wire material evaporated by the welding arc. The gaseous metal reacts with oxygen in the air to form a metal oxide and will solidify to form small smoke metal oxide particles. Some welding fumes originate from metals that have been welded.

Most filler wire contains metals that are known to be toxic and can seriously affect health if inhaled. The content of the filler wire and the amount of welding fumes generated will vary according to the welding process.

High temperature work

Other high-temperature or high-energy processes, including metal cutting, sanding and even polishing, can create metal particles and metal oxides that can be inhaled quickly.

Other industrial applications may create manganese dust, mist or fumes; for example, handling or applying manganese-containing feed or liquid chemicals.


The secondary mode of exposure is through skin and eye contact, particularly if the manganese is in a liquid state, which can easily pass through the skin or cause skin lesions.


Workers may suffer exposure from accidental ingestion of manganese, for example workers who eat, drink, smoke or bite their nails with contaminated hands.

Activities/applications in which occupational exposures may occur.

Examples of applications in manufacturing and metallurgical production as well as other industries and processes where people may be exposed to manganese compounds:

Production of metals, metal fabrication and related aspects

  • Refining, smelting or extraction processes for manganese
  • Production of alloys, foundry operations and powder metallurgy, especially of alloys such as:
  • Steel: improves rolling and forging properties
  • Stainless steel
  • Aluminum and antimony (sometimes with copper): creates ferromagnetic alloys
  • Welding and sanding of manganese and alloys
  • Polishing or other processes with stainless steel and manganese alloys

Other applications

  • Pigments, decolorants and additives for paints, ceramics, glass and other ceramics
  • Chemicals sector, particularly permanganates, which are potent oxidizing agents
  • Manufacture, use of specialized dry batteries

Another fact:

Manganese oxide is used in many welding consumables, for example:

  • As a flux agent in electrode coating for armoured metal arc
  • In electrodes for tubular wire arc
  • As an alloying element used in electrodes

What can I do to protect myself?

Use appropriate controls

Companies should carry out a risk assessment in addition to determining exposure levels against exposure limits to know what control measures they may need.

If necessary, controls from the control hierarchy should be implemented and their effectiveness measured. For example, localized extraction systems (LEVs) can be a highly effective engineering control, used in welding, sanding and many other applications.

Get the necessary equipment.

In addition to implementing other control measures, the use of personal protective equipment (PPE), such as respiratory protective equipment (PPE), is usually required to minimise exposure and risk to workers.

Respiratory protective equipment (PRE): half masks with filter

3M has a wide range of EPRs that can help minimise exposure to dust, haze, metal fumes, ozone and also to other gases and vapours commonly encountered in metal manufacturing and production, from disposable particle masks to reusable full masks and masks, to battery-powered air purification masks combined with a variety of resistant masks, head units and helmets.

Respiratory protective equipment (PRE): half masks with air supply

3M it also has a wide variety of semi-masks with continuous and on-demand valve air supply, suitable for use in some of the most demanding working environments.

Welding screens with breathing protection

3M it also has a wide range of 3MTM SpeedglasTM welding screens to protect the face and eyes from harmful light, sparks and splashes. All of these welding screens can be used with reusable or disposable half-masks 3M.

3M it also offers welding helmets and screens designed to work with monitored or air supply systems 3M, to provide you with several types of protection in a single product.

Eye and facial protective equipment

Whether it is a 3MTM SpeedglasTM welding viewfinder with a self-obscuring filter or a full and light face screen, 3M has a full range of PPE to protect you from the many dangers involved in working with metals and welds.

Other PPE

3M it also offers a wide variety of different safety solutions you need to work safely, comfortably and effectively, such as:

  • Face, eye and head protection
  • Reusable and disposable earplugs and earmuffs
  • Communication solutions
  • Disposable and reusable protective clothing
  • Gloves suitable for protecting hands and skin
  • Protection against falls
  • Solutions for confined spaces
  • Individual gas and fixed detection systems
  • Fixed flame detection solutions


WebelementsWebelements. Manganese: the basics. [En línea] [consultado el 22 de noviembre de 2018]. https://www.webelements.com/manganese/.

Smedley and others: Smedley, J, Dick, F and Sadhra, S. Oxford Handbook of Occupational Health (second edition). It's 2013.

ACGIH TLVs: American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH)). Threshold Limit Values for Chemical Substances and Physical Agents & Biological Exposure Indices (TLVs and BEIs). 2018

ASDR: Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ASTDR). Toxic Substances Portal - Manganese. [En línea] [consultado el 22 de no viembre de 2018]. https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/substances/toxsubstance.asp?toxid=23.

This is the NIOSH Pocket Guide: The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). This is the NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards. [En línea] [consultado el 22 de no viembre 2018]. https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/npg/default.html.

The AntoniniHealth Effects of Welding. In the absence of any other evidence, the Commission concludes that the conditions for granting the aid are satisfied.

Nemery: Metal toxicity and respiratory tract. In this case, the applicant shall provide the information referred to in the first subparagraph.

The PalmerIt is also important to note that:. Mortality from infectious pneumonia in metal workers: a comparison with deaths from asthma in occupations exposed to respiratory sensitizers. THORAX Online first, published on 23 August 2009

I'M NOT SURE.Occupational safety and health administration (OSHA). Standard interpretations - Male infertility and welding engineers. [En línea] [consultado el 8 de octubre de 2018]. https://www.osha.gov/laws-regs/standardinterpretations/1992-10-27.

Hazard Awareness Bulletin - Manganese