Saf Health Work.  2013 Sep;4(3):123-135.

Neurobehavioral Deficits and Parkinsonism in Occupations with Manganese Exposure: A Review of Methodological Issues in the Epidemiological Literature

  • 1National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Education and Information Division, Cincinnati, OH, USA.


Exposure to manganese (Mn) is associated with neurobehavioral effects. There is disagreement on whether commonly occurring exposures in welding, ferroalloy, and other industrial processes produce neurologically significant neurobehavioral changes representing parkinsonism. A review of methodological issues in the human epidemiological literature on Mn identified: (1) studies focused on idiopathic Parkinson disease without considering manganism, a parkinsonian syndrome; (2) studies with healthy worker effect bias; (3) studies with problematic statistical modeling; and (4) studies arising from case series derived from litigation. Investigations with adequate study design and exposure assessment revealed consistent neurobehavioral effects and attributable subclinical and clinical signs and symptoms of impairment. Twenty-eight studies show an exposure-response relationship between Mn and neurobehavioral effects, including 11 with continuous exposure metrics and six with three or four levels of contrasted exposure. The effects of sustained low-concentration exposures to Mn are consistent with the manifestations of early manganism, i.e., consistent with parkinsonism. This is compelling evidence that Mn is a neurotoxic chemical and there is good evidence that Mn exposures far below the current US standard of 5.0 mg/m3 are causing impairment.


manganism; neurobehavioral signs and symptoms; neuropsychological tests; welding
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