Dublin water samples found to have 10 times the legal limit of lead
Do you know what's in your drinking water?
A Freedom of Information Act request has revealed that nine of the 422 water supplies tested so far this year have shown dangerously high levels of lead.
Three of these supplies were in the Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown area, and they showed 10 times the legal limit of lead. Other failures were found in Longford, Tipperary and Galway.
Irish Water has previously said that all water leaving its plants is lead-free, and that it does not use lead pipes to transport water. However, many private properties still have lead pipes.
In a statement issued to JOE earlier today, a spokesperson for Irish Water said: "Lead plumbing was used widely in houses built up to the 1980s and it is estimated that there are 180,000 properties in Ireland with lead plumbing.
"This estimate is based on the age of the housing stock around the country. As water passes through private connections (the pipe from the road to the property) or internal plumbing made of lead, the lead can be dissolved into the water.
"If lead is present then the homeowner will need to replace their internal plumbing."
According to the HSE, exposure to lead can cause several significant health and developmental problems.
- Long term exposure to lead can affect the development of a child’s brain leading to problems with learning, behaviour and attention.
- Lead may harm the kidneys and may contribute to high blood pressure.
- Lead has also been linked to cancer. It is classified as ‘probably carcinogenic’ to humans. This means that we are not sure if it causes cancer in humans but that we know it can cause cancer in animals.
- Recent scientific evidence shows that regular intake of even low levels of lead can have small health effects, especially on the brain development of infants, young children and babies in the womb.
The legal limit of lead in drinking water in Europe has been gradually reduced, from 50µg per litre in 1988 to 10µg per litre in December 2013.