The occupational exposure to airborne manganese (Mn) has been linked for decades with neurological effects. With respect to its environmental exposure, the first reviews on this matter stated that the risk posed to human health by this kind of exposure was still unknown. Later, many studies have been developed to analyze the association between environmental Mn exposure and health effects, most of them including the measure of Mn in selected human biomarkers. This review aims at collecting and organizing the literature dealing with the environmental airborne Mn exposure (other routes of exposure were intentionally removed from this review), the biomonitoring of this metal in different body matrices (e.g., blood, urine, nails, hair), and the association between exposure and several adverse health effects, such as, e.g., neurocognitive, neurodevelopmental, or neurobehavioral outcomes. From the different exposure routes, inhalation was the only one considered in this review, to take into account the areas influenced by industrial activities closely related to the Mn industry (ferromanganese and silicomanganese plants, Mn ore mines, and their processing plants) and by traffic in countries where a fuel additive, methylcyclopentadienyl manganese tricarbonyl (MMT), has been used for years. In these areas, high air Mn levels have been reported in comparison with the annual Reference Concentration (RfC) given by the US EPA for Mn, 50 ng/m3. This review was performed using Scopus and MEDLINE databases with a keyword search strategy that took into account that each valid reference should include at least participants that were exposed to environmental airborne Mn and that were subjected to analysis of Mn in biomarkers or subjected to neurological/neuropsychological tests or both. Overall, 47 references matching these criteria were included in the discussion. Most of them report the measure of Mn in selected biomarkers (N = 43) and the assessment of different neurological outcomes (N = 31). A negative association is usually obtained between Mn levels in hair and some neurological outcomes, such as cognitive, motor, olfactory, and emotional functions, but not always significant. However, other biomarkers, such as blood and urine, do not seem to reflect the chronic environmental exposure to low/moderate levels of airborne Mn. Further studies combining the determination of the Mn exposure through environmental airborne sources and biomarkers of exposure and the evaluation of at least cognitive and motor functions are needed to better understand the effects of chronic non-occupational exposure to airborne Mn.
Authors: Ignacio Fernández-Olmo, Paula Mantecón, Bohdana Markiv, Laura Ruiz-Azcona, Muguel Santibáñez
; Full Source: Review of environmental contamination and toxicology. 2020 May 31. doi: 10.1007/398_2020_46. Online ahead of print.