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Officials: Infants Shouldn't Drink Battle Creek Water

Battle Creek
City of Battle Creek

Health officials have advised families in southwestern Michigan not to allow infants to drink from one city's water system after finding elevated levels of manganese.

The city of Battle Creek began distributing bottled water Thursday following an announcement that manganese was identified exceeding the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's health advisory level for children under 12 months old. Officials will distribute one case of bottled water per day to each family with an infant at locations throughout the city.

Battle Creek officials said that adults and children older than 12 months can drink tap water. The city also advised against boiling water, which may increase manganese levels. Officials cautioned families to avoid making infants any formula or food with the water.

The high levels were first found last month at a fire hydrant in Springfield, which gets its water from Battle Creek. Further testing revealed elevated levels were also identified at a Battle Creek hydrant, the city said.

Manganese is a natural element found in air, soil and water that can be dangerous in high concentrations, according to the EPA. It can affect the nervous system and has been linked to learning and behavioral problems later in life.

Infants are more vulnerable to manganese because of their developing brains, which absorb more of the element than older children and adults, said Dr. William Nettleton, Calhoun County's medical director.

The city is investigating the cause of the high levels. Battle Creek has filtered the city's water system for manganese since the 1990s. Officials said determining the source will help the city change protocols and deal with the element in the future.

It's unknown how long the high levels have been present in the city's water or how long infants may have been exposed.

Concerned parents are advised to contact a local poison control center.

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