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Battle Creek – Health officials are advising families in Battle Creek not to allow infants to drink from a city’s water system after finding elevated levels of manganese.

The city is investigating the cause of the high levels and began distributing bottled water Thursday following an announcement that manganese was identified exceeding the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s health advisory level.

Battle Creek officials say adults and children older than 12 months can drink tap water. The city also advises against boiling water, which may increase manganese levels.

They also said Friday the city is collecting 50 samples from across its water system for testing at a laboratory in Holland. They said the results will be reviewed by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, which will determine when the drinking water advisory can be lifted.

Manganese is a naturally occurring metal found in rock and a nutrient in food, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Small amounts are needed daily to maintain health but high levels of the metal can affect the nervous system. In children, extremely high levels can affect brain development, the CDC said.

City officials said elevated levels of the metal were found at a fire hydrant in the city of Springfield, located is about 3.5 miles west of Battle Creek. Springfield buys its water from Battle Creek.

Officials conducted more testing and discovered high manganese levels at a hydrant in Battle Creek.

“We routinely monitor your water for the presence of many regulated drinking water contaminants,” officials said in a statement Thursday to residents. “Although manganese is not part of our required, routine testing, manganese samples were taken as part of an unregulated contaminant monitoring program required by the EPA.”

Officials said tests showed manganese was 0.98 parts per million in Battle Creek and 0.68 per million in Springfield. The federal standard for children under 12-months-old is 0.3 parts per million for short-term exposure, about one to 10 days. For children over a year-old and adults, the standard is 1 part per million for short-term exposure.

Meanwhile, the city of Battle Creek is distributing bottled water at city hall, the public works department, the police department and six of its fire stations. One case of water will be provided once a day to families with infants under 12-months-old.

Detroit News staff contributed

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