Taking regular showers could pose a health risk and even result in permanent brain damage, it was claimed yesterday.
US scientists believe that breathing in small amounts of manganese, found in Sydney’s water supply, dissolved in the water may harm the nervous system. The damage may occur even at levels of the naturally occurring metal normally considered safe, they say.
Although manganese levels in public water supplies are monitored, regulators have not considered the long-term effects of inhaling vaporised manganese while showering, they claim. “If our results are confirmed, they could have profound implications for the nation and the world,” said Dr john Spangler, from Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston Salem, New Carolina.
Dr Spangler’s team calculated from animal studies the amount of manganese people would absorb by showering for 10 minutes a day.
After 10 years of showering in manganese-contaminated water, children would be exposed to levels of the metal three times higher than the doses needed to leave deposits in rats’ brains, the team found.
Adults with a longer history of showering could be exposed to doses 50 per cent higher.