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MDCH Finalizes Health Consultation Regarding Manganese in Soil in Ecorse and River Rouge

April 3, 2009

The Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) has finalized its draft Public Health Consultation regarding manganese in soils in the cities of Ecorse and River Rouge. The consultation discusses exposure to airborne soils that contain elevated levels of manganese and responds to public comments received on the draft document.

Manganese is a chemical element that occurs naturally in the soil and in food but also is released from steel manufacturing and other sources. Manganese should not cause harm when it is eaten because it is an essential nutrient. Breathing too much manganese dust, however, can cause nervous system effects such as a Parkinson's-like tremor.

Long-term air monitoring conducted by the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) in the city of River Rouge suggests that manganese levels may exceed the screening level for air. The manganese in the air may be from several sources, not just from the soil.

MDCH recommends that DEQ continue air monitoring in the area, including monitoring for a smaller particulate size. The recent idling of the U.S. Steel Great Lakes Works plant may affect air quality in the area. Long-term data, collected under normal industrial conditions, will help determine public health conclusions.

Copies of the Public Health Consultation are available at the River Rouge Public Library, 221 Burke Street, River Rouge, and the Ecorse Public Library, 4184 W. Jefferson Avenue, Ecorse. The consultation is also available on-line at the Division of Environmental Health Web site,, under "Health Assessments and Related Documents."

MDCH and DEQ will hold a joint public meeting later this spring, details to be announced. The Division of Environmental Health conducted the Public Health Consultation under a cooperative agreement with the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). Information concerning the human health effects of exposure to environmental contaminants, such as manganese, can be found on the ATSDR Web page at