Manganese oxides are chemical compounds consisting of manganese and oxygen. They occur in nature and are mined there to be used in many products such as steel or batteries. The special thing about manganese oxides is that they occur in many oxidation states and can contain varying amounts of oxygen. The ability of manganese to exist in different oxidation states is used in batteries and in the chemical industry to carry out so-called redox processes and thus store energy or convert substances into other substances.
How can I come into contact with this material?
Because manganese and its oxides occur everywhere in nature, e.g. in rocks, they are ingested through food. Steel cutlery also contains manganese.
Manganese dioxide (MnO2) is used in alkaline batteries, so if you destroy a battery you could come into contact with it. Since batteries also contain other substances that are not beneficial to health, they should not be opened. This also applies to lithium-ion batteries, which contain not only manganese but also other substances that are harmful to health, such as cobalt or nickel. Manganese is used as a nanoscale material in solar cells, but here it is encapsulated and is thus not released during use.
Is there any risk from this material to humans and the environment?
The human body and most environmental organisms are used to taking up small amounts of manganese and manganese oxides with food. Humans need small amounts of manganese as an essential trace element for the body to function properly.
In common applications such as eating utensils, manganese and manganese oxides are firmly incorporated and are thus not released. They are therefore harmless to humans. High manganese concentrations can be harmful, so alkaline batteries or lithium-ion batteries should not be eaten.
Manganese oxides in low concentrations are harmless in the daily environment and in foods if handled with normal caution.
By the way…
Manganese oxides occur in many different colours, they are the multi-coloured ones of inorganic chemistry.