Negative Health Effects of Manganese Fumes, Welding Hazards

Manganese: Both Healthy & Toxic

Manganese, a naturally-occurring element, is an important component for a variety of manufacturing and industrial operations, especially iron and steel production.

Considered an essential nutrient for humans, manganese assists in a variety of bodily processes including antioxidant function, metabolism, bone development, and wound healing. [3]

Although manganese is an essential nutrient for humans, it can become toxic at certain exposure levels; especially when manganese fumes are inhaled.

Instead of going through the body’s normal defense mechanisms, the fumes bypass them, accumulate, and subsequently damage vital organs like the lungs, liver, kidney and central nervous system according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). [1]

Short-term exposure may lead to metal fume fever, which symptoms include fever, chills, nausea, fatigue, muscle ache, joint pain, and thirst, among others. These symptoms usually resolve themselves within 24-48 hours; however, long-term and chronic exposure to manganese fumes can lead to a disease called Manganism which has symptoms similar to those related to Parkinson’s disease.

Occupational Risk

According to NIOSH, typical occupations that run the risk of overexposure to manganese fumes include:

  • Mining
  • Ore-Crushing
  • Metallurgical Operations for iron, steel, ferrous and nonferrous alloys
  • Manufacturing of:
    • Dry-cell batteries
    • Anti-knock gasoline additives
    • Pesticides
    • Pigments
    • Dyes
    • Inks
  • Welding Operations [1]
  • Other occupations that involve the release of manganese-containing fumes

Manganism symptoms may include:

  • Tremors
  • Slowed Movement
  • Walking Problems
  • Shakes
  • Loss of Balance
  • Impotency
  • Slurred Speech
  • Extreme Drowsiness
  • Muscle Rigidity [1] [2]

Welding & Manganese

Workers can be exposed to manganese fumes during a variety of welding operations; it is difficult to be specific because of differences in and multiple combinations of welding wire, fluxes, and base metals.

NIOSH explains that welders who work with lead, iron and manganese may be at increased risk for neurological health effects. [They also note that “heat and stress can also contribute to neurological impairments in welders.”] A recent study showed poorer performance on brain function and motor skill tests from welders who were exposed to low levels of Manganese. [3] Health effects also included “changes in mood and short-term memory, altered reaction time, and reduced hand-eye coordination. It is not known if these findings have clinical significance.” [1]

Engineering Safety Controls

Respirators and local exhaust ventilation, also known as fume extractors, are typically recommended engineering safety controls for welding fume control. However, a Certified Industrial Hygienist should be consulted in order to determine the best safety approach based on the amount of fumes produced, materials involved, and environmental considerations.

Ductless Fume Hoods are another local exhaust option for applications that release manganese fumes and are performed on a small scale or limited space environment

For additional information on Local Exhaust Ventilation for Welding Fume Control, give Sentry Air a call at 1.800.799.4609, email us at, or fill out this form to receive more information.


[1] “Welding and Manganese: Potential Neurologic Effects.” NIOSH. <>

[2] “Welding and Manganese Poisoning”. International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. <>

[3] “Manganese”. Linus Pauling Institute, Oregon State University <>

This blog entry was written as a customer service and no representation is made as to the completeness or accuracy of the information it contains. Persons that believe they have been overexposed to manganese fumes should consult a healthcare physician or seek medical assistance. If you believe you are being exposed to these fumes in your workplace, consult an industrial safety officer or management team regarding this issue.