What is Manganese Poisoning? It's a disorder that attacks the nervous system much like that of Parkinson's disease and believed to be caused from Manganese fumes. This disorder becomes worse over time and a cure has not yet been developed.

Below we explain Manganese Poisoning, Toxins welders are likely exposed to, and most importantly, the symptoms. Because Manganese poisoning is so similar to Parkinson disease, let me first give you a definition:

The popular definition of Parkinson's (PD; paralysis agitans) is a neurodegenerative disease of the substantia nigra (an area in the basal ganglia of the brain). The disease was first discovered and its symptoms documented in 1817 (Essay on the Shaking Palsy) by the British physician Dr. James Parkinson; the associated biochemical changes in the brain of patients were identified in the 1960s

Welding Fumes

A popular theory holds that welders disease may result in many or even most cases from the combination of a genetically determined vulnerability to environmental toxins such as Manganese (Toxic Welding Rod Fumes). This appears to be consistent with the fact that Parkinson's disease is not distributed homogeneously among the population, but rather, its incidence varies geographically.

Toxins other than Manganese welding fumes are include certain pesticides and industrial metals. Because MPTP (1-methyl 4-phenyl 1, 2, 3, 6-tetrahydropyridine) can quickly induce parkinsonian symptoms, it is used as the model for Parkinson's. Other toxin-based models employ paraquat (a herbicide) in combination with maneb (a fungicide), rotenone (an insecticide) and specific organochlorine pesticides that include dieldrin and lindane. Research has shown that an increase in PD can be found in persons exposed to these agricultural chemicals; the risk appears to rise with exposure.

Maganese Poisoning

Manganese is a gray / white metal, resembling iron, but is harder and very brittle. It is reactive chemically, and slowly decomposes in cold water. Manganese is used to form many important alloys such as steel. In steel, manganese improves rolling and forging qualities, strength, toughness, stiffness, wear resistance, and hardness. Manganese (Mn.) has a molecular weight of 54.938 g/mol.

It's the toxic welding rod fumes from welding with Manganese that is thought to cause Manganese-Induced Parkinsonism. Manganese poising usually effects welders with age indeterminate - in other words, any welder (or person working around these toxic fumes) of any age could have Manganese poisoning

These disorders are so much alike that they can be, and are, often mistaken for each other or misdiagnosed. There are subtle differences, such as nervous symptom disorders at a very early age, which can alert doctors to injuries caused by Manganese.

Manganese Poisoning Symptoms

Symptoms may vary among patients; for example, a welder who has been exposed to welding fumes (manganese) over a long period of time will experience different results than a welder just starting his or her career. Symptoms are:

  • tremor (even though it is not displayed by an estimated 30% of patients can classified as rigid-akinetic. Tremors of the chin and lips tend to be Parkinsonian where tremors of the whole head suggest essential tremor
  • rigidity or stiffness in the muscles
  • bradykinesia - slowness of movement
  • akinesia - lack of spontaneous movement
  • postural instability (failing balance, walking problems)

Other psychological and cognitive symptoms though to be associated with Mn. Poisoning are:

  • depression which occurs in 40-70%
  • anxiety or panic attacks
  • executive dysfunction which includes difficulties in differential allocation of attention, impulse control, set shifting, prioritizing, evaluating the salience of ambient data, interpreting social cues, and subjective time awareness.
  • memory loss; procedural memory is more impaired than declarative memory.
  • apathy - lack of feeling
  • altered sexual function or lack of interest
  • trouble sleeping or disturbingly vivid dreams
  • slow to react both voluntary and involuntary

Welding Fumes and sensory symptoms

  • impaired visual contrast sensitivity, color discrimination or double vision
  • dizziness
  • Anosmia or loss of sense of smell
  • pain

Physical symptoms of Manganese Poisoning

  • speech problems such as loss of prosody in speech production and indistinct articulation
  • cramps in the big toe of either feet
  • stooped posture
  • constipation,
  • fatigue - found in 50% of the manganese poisoning cases
  • difficulty in swallowing
  • find yourself drooling

Sources of Manganese Poising

Occupational exposure to manganese can occur in the following industries:

  • Mining and refining of manganese ore, and manganese is also associated with iron deposits.
  • Arc welding
  • In foundries
  • Dry battery manufacturing
  • Iron and steel industries; ferromanganese is required to make steel
  • Fertilizers; manganese is added as it is an essential element for plant life
  • Pesticides
  • Chemical industries; manganese is used as a catalyst for many chemical processes such as the manufacture of sulphuric acid.

Cases of manganese poisoning have also been reported in:

  • hospital patients being fed by total parenteral nutrition (TPN) feeds
  • agricultural workers who have worked around pesticides may have been exposed to manganese

  • workers burning fossil fuels (know to release Manganese)
  • found in cigarette smoke, with around 0.003 micrograms per cigarette.

Some suggest that Parkinsonism in patients with chronic liver disease could be due to their accumulation of manganese in their basal ganglia. These patients accumulate manganese because their liver can't metabolize the metal.

Cure for Manganese Poisoning

As of yet, there is not a cure for those exposed to toxic welding fumes. Depending on where you live, your doctor may not be able to tell you have been poisoned by Manganese fumes or actually have Parkinson's disease.

If you are a welder or someone who has been exposed to toxic welding rod fumes, then you should ask your doctor to check for this condition. This is fast becoming a major issue for welders and loved ones who have been exposed to toxic welding rod fumes.

Welders Disease

There was a court case over welders disease where the manufacturer of a welding rod project had to pay more than a Million dollars for failing to warn the welding rod product purchaser about toxic welding rod fumes.

Beware: Welding workers at car and auto body shops, factories, steel metal welding jobs, construction workers, and welding shops.

Over the past twenty years, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has recognized the importance of preventing potential health hazards associated with fumes and gases generated during welding operations.

Welding Rod Fumes and Parkinsons's Disease

According to a press release from Washington University School of Medicine, in 2001 researchers identified the first clue that welding fume inhalation might trigger Parkinson's disease (PD). A research team led by neurologist Brad A. Racette, M.D., found that 15 professional welders' developed typical clinical and neurological signs of the disease (welder's disease) an average of 15 years earlier than the general population. The study is featured in the January issue of the journal Neurology with an accompanying editorial.

In 2001, researchers at the Washing University School of Medicine discovered a clue that welders' disease could be related to Parkinson's disease! They found that welders could develop Parkinson disease (PD) like signs 15 years before those not having welded for a profession.

Brad Racette, M.D., a neurologist leading the research into welders disease, states that the research doesn't prove that welding will cause PD, but that only that it appears unusual that the majority of these patients had a much younger age of onset.

Lawsuits from Toxic Welding Rod Fumes

March 2006 - Welder's $1M Award Stands in manganese fumes Case:
Illinois Supreme Court let stand a $1M verdict awarded to a former welder who developed Parkinson's disease after toxic welding rod fume exposure during employment.

December 2005 - Illinois Court Upholds Welder's $1M Verdict:
All Illinois appellate court upheld a $1M verdict award in a toxic welding fumes lawsuit against several welding rod manufacturers, based on injuries from on-the-job exposure to manganese fumes. Illinois 5th District Appellate Court found that the welding rod manufacturers did not adequately warn welders of the possible harm caused by the release of toxic manganese fumes during the welding process.

December 2003 - Pennsylvania Welders Sue Welding Product Manufacturers:
Lawsuit filed in Pennsylvania state court, by welders claiming that fumes from a metallic element used in the welding process can cause the onset of Parkinson's disease. Filed against at least 20 nationwide manufacturers of welding products, the suit seeks certification as a class action, and alleges that the defendants knew or should have known of the toxic welding rod fumes.

December 2003 - More Than 3,000 Welding Rod Suits Consolidated:
More than 3,000 claims for injuries from exposure to toxic welding fumes have been merged into one MDL action in federal court in Ohio. The case is in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Ohio, Eastern Division; case number 1:2003-CV-17000.

October 2003 - Illinois Jury Awards $1M to Former Welder:
Believed to be the first such toxic welding rod fume lawsuit, a Madison County, Illinois jury awarded $1 million to a former welder who claimed that his exposure to toxic fumes during welding caused the early onset of Parkinson's disease. This welding fume judgment was against three welding rod manufacturers.

Manganese Poisoning Help

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