Ely Township issues water advisory for infants

ISHPEMING — Ely Township announced that it is working with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the Marquette County Health Department and the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy to investigate manganese levels in the Greenwood water system.

The township indicated that there currently is no state or federal requirement to test for manganese in a municipal water system. Manganese, it said, is a naturally occurring element that is commonly found where iron is present.

It stressed that the advisory is precautionary only at this time. The advisory is being distributed to Ely Township-Greenwood residents until additional testing can be completed.

The township said it sampled the Greenwood water system wells for manganese on June 7 to obtain updated water quality data for water system improvement grant applications.

Testing results for manganese were 390 parts per billion in Well 2, 760 ppb in Well 3 and 610 ppb in Well 4. Currently only Well 2 is being used, the township said.

The Environmental Protection Agency health advisory level for children under 12 months old is 300 ppb for short-term — one to 10 days — exposure. The short-term health advisory level for children older than 12 months and adults is 1,000 ppb, with the lifetime health advisory level 300 ppb.

Ely Township said it will provide bottled water for families with infants 12 months and under until further notice. People may pick up bottled water at the Ely Township Hall, located at 1555 County Road 496. Pick-up hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

The township noted that individuals should use bottle water only for children less than 12 months old. Some amount of manganese, it said, is needed for the human body to function, but too much can be harmful. The bodies of adults and children older than 12 months can remove excess manganese, but infants’ bodies might not be able to process higher levels.

Making formula with water containing high amounts of manganese can increase an infant’s risk of health problems, it said, and too much manganese is linked to learning and behavioral problems.

The township urged people to not boil water since it does not remove manganese and might increase the amount.

It also provided these tips:

≤ Infants less than 12 months old should be given bottled water for anything they eat or drink, including juice, formula purees and cereals.

≤ Adults and children over 12 months may use tap water for drinking.

≤ Adults and children of any age, including infants, may continue to bathe and shower, brush their teeth, and wash clothes, foods and dishes in tap water.

Ely Township acknowledged that the two wells with the highest amount of manganese are not being used. It will collect samples from 10 locations in the distribution system to evaluate the manganese levels and also will sample the levels in the Diorite water system for manganese. This sampling should be completed within the next two weeks.

Manganese is not a regulated water supply parameter that is required to be at a specific level by the Michigan Safe Drinking Water Act, said Patrick Jacuzzo, director of environmental health with MCHD, in an email.

“Manganese is considered an unregulated contaminant of concern,” Jacuzzo said. “The EPA established recommended ‘health advisory’ levels for unregulated contaminants of concern such as manganese. Elevated manganese is not an acute health threat but can have deleterious effects on health if consumed in amounts above established health advisory levels over time.”

Jacuzzo agreed that health concerns for elevated manganese in drinking water are particularly of concern for infants under 12 months old and may result in learning disabilities and behavioral issues.

He said Ely Township water supply is classified as a Type I community water supply under the Michigan Safe Drinking Water Act. Type I water supplies, such as Ely Township’s water supply, are not regulated by MCHD. EGLE has regulatory oversight of Type I community water supplies, including Ely Township.

For more information, contact MDHHS at 800-648-6942 or MCHD at 906-475-4195. These lines are available from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

For more information about the Ely Township water system and/or receiving bottled water for infants 12 months old or younger, call 906-486-6802.

Christie Mastric can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. Her email address is cbleck@miningjournal.net.


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