Willhite CC, Bhat VS, Ball GL, McLellan CJ. 2013. Emergency do not consume/do not use concentrations for potassium permanganate in drinking water. Human Exper Toxicol 32:275-298.
Over the past decade, regulatory authorities and water purveyors have become increasingly concerned with accidental or intentional adulteration of municipal drinking water. Emergency response guidelines, such as the ‘Do Not Consume’ or use concentration limits derived herein, can be used to notify the public in such cases. Potassium permanganate (KMnO4) is used to control iron concentrations and to reduce the levels of nuisance materials that affect odor or taste of finished drinking water. Manganese (Mn) is recognized an essential nutrient, permanganate (MnO4−) and manganous (Mn+2) ions are caustic, and the acute toxicity of KMnO4 is defined by its oxidant/irritant properties and by the toxicity of Mn. Ingestion of small amounts (4–20 mg/kg) of aqueous KMnO4 solutions that are above 200 mg/L causes gastrointestinal distress, while bolus ingestion has caused respiratory arrest following coagulative necrosis and hemorrhage in the esophagus, stomach, or liver. Dilute KMnO4 solutions (1–100 mg/L) are used as a topical antiseptics and astringents, but >1:5000 (200 mg/L) dilutions can irritate or discolor sensitive mucous membranes and direct skin or ocular contact with concentrated KMnO4 can perforate tissues. Based on clinical experience with 200 mg/L KMnO4, a Do Not Consume concentration of 7 mg/L KMnO4 (equivalent to 2 mg Mn/L) is recommended. Recognizing limited empirical data from which to calculate an ocular reference value, a skin contact ‘Do Not Use’ concentration of 30 mg Mn/L is recommended based on the skin irritation in some patients after a 10-min contact with 100 mg KMnO4/L.