Photo by The-Lane-Team |

A study recently done by the University of Montreal has found a link that high levels of Manganese (Mn) in drinking water may lower children’s IQ by an average of six points.

The study included 350 children living in southwest Quebec who were consuming local well water. Researchers mentioned that it was quite obvious that as the amount of Manganese went up in concentration, IQ levels in the children in the study dropped.

Mn is a free element found in nature and we need it in our body to function properly. However, Mn has been shown to have neurotoxic effects on the human body in high concentrations, interfering with neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin. This is why it can cause an IQ drop – and if a child already has a low IQ, it can cause them to develop a learning deficiency.

The issue? The level of manganese in drinking water is not regulated by the Canadian government (though it is recommended by the WHO that drinking levels should not exceed more than 400 mcg/L of Mn). The well water in rural southwest Quebec contained high levels of Manganese due to leaching from rocks and minerals, but drinking water quality in Montreal had lower levels of Mn due to tighter controlled regulations and filtering.

This study has found a strong link that high levels of Mn in drinking water causes children to have lower IQ on average, and the government should invest in more research to regulate a safe amount of Mn in water all over Canada. We always say that children are our future – and with studies like this one, it’s apparent that much more can be done for them.

We are left in an unfortunate scenario, one that is highly environmental and much broader than tap water. Mn is also an element present in fruits and vegetables. It is present in the air due to pollution. It is also in many household products such as batteries and stainless steel.

These confounding variables should be analyzed more in depth to make a more pronounced link between high levels of Mn in drinking water being the cause of lower IQ in children. Further research is needed to gain a better understanding on how much maganese we are exposed to in our everyday life including food, water and household products. From here, we can ask more questions about the regulation of Mn, where it stands in the environment, and what we should do about it.

Even before this all happens, I suggest that policies regarding the regulation of Mn should be approached and considered as a precautionary principle. With this, we can cease what could potentially be an unethical alteration of our newest generation.

AuthorSandra Lynsdale