Water manganese exposure and children's intellectual function in Araihazar, Bangladesh

Environ Health Perspect. 2006 Jan;114(1):124-9. doi: 10.1289/ehp.8030.


Exposure to manganese via inhalation has long been known to elicit neurotoxicity in adults, but little is known about possible consequences of exposure via drinking water. In this study, we report results of a cross-sectional investigation of intellectual function in 142 10-year-old children in Araihazar, Bangladesh, who had been consuming tube-well water with an average concentration of 793 microg Mn/L and 3 microg arsenic/L. Children and mothers came to our field clinic, where children received a medical examination in which weight, height, and head circumference were measured. Children's intellectual function was assessed on tests drawn from the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children, version III, by summing weighted items across domains to create Verbal, Performance, and Full-Scale raw scores. Children provided urine specimens for measuring urinary As and creatinine and were asked to provide blood samples for measuring blood lead, As, Mn, and hemoglobin concentrations. After adjustment for sociodemographic covariates, water Mn was associated with reduced Full-Scale, Performance, and Verbal raw scores, in a dose-response fashion; the low level of As in water had no effect. In the United States, roughly 6% of domestic household wells have Mn concentrations that exceed 300 microg Mn/L, the current U.S. Environmental Protection Agency lifetime health advisory level. We conclude that in both Bangladesh and the United States, some children are at risk for Mn-induced neurotoxicity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Arsenic / blood
  • Arsenic / urine
  • Bangladesh / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Environmental Exposure*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intelligence Tests*
  • Lead / blood
  • Male
  • Manganese / analysis
  • Manganese / blood
  • Manganese / toxicity*
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / analysis
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / blood
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / toxicity*
  • Water Supply*


  • Water Pollutants, Chemical
  • Lead
  • Manganese
  • Arsenic