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Manganese concentrations higher in residential neighborhoods than industrial sites, varies by region
Date:3/7/2012

MANHATTAN, Kan. -- In residential neighborhoods near manufacturing industries, a breath of air may be more hazardous than refreshing depending on the location, finds a recent study involving a Kansas State University geologist.

Saugata Datta, assistant professor of geology at Kansas State University, along with researchers at Columbia University and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Department of Environmental Health Sciences, explored levels of the elemental metal manganese in airborne particulate matter -- a combination of dust, soot and other organic and inorganic particles suspended in a gas or liquid. Five counties across the U.S. were sampled as researchers characterized manganese and identified if manganese concentrations in the airborne particulate matter varied by geographic region.

"Manganese is an element that was originally thought to have a lot of nutritional aspects for humans and was relatively harmless health-wise," Datta said. "But more recently that thinking is changing. Manganese is a neurotoxin at certain levels when in water, so there is a question about if it's toxic in air, too."

Manganese can be introduced into particulate matter -- and consequently the air -- through vehicle exhaust; vapor emissions from power plants, manufacturing industries and smoke stacks; battery and electronics manufacturing; welding; and auto manufacturing, Datta said. Tests on subways have also shown elevated levels of manganese in particulate matter because of abrasion from the steel tracks.

For the study the team analyzed samples of airborne particulate matter from Sacramento County, Calif.; Pinellas County, Fla.; Anoka County, Minn.; Harris County, Texas; and Maricopa County, Ariz. Samples were collected by Johns Hopkins Particulate Matter Center and examined using spectroscopy and other techniques at the National Synchrotron Light Source at Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York.

Air samples
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Contact: Saugata Datta
sdatta@k-state.edu
785-532-2241
Kansas State University
Source:Eurekalert

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