June 15, 2021

Wicklow among counties with highest levels of dangerous chemical in water supplies

Wicklow has recorded one of the highest levels of a dangerous chemical produced by treating dirty water supplies in the country.

The Garden County, along with Cork, Kerry and Donegal recorded the highest levels of Trihalomethane (THM) in a submission to the European Commission by the Friends of the Irish Environment (FIE) group.

Last week it emerged the EU has put Ireland on a four-month deadline to solve a chemical contamination problem that affects the drinking water supply of up to 180,000 people across the country.

In a warning, the commission said the continued exposure of people to THM was a health risk and a breach of the Drinking Water Directive.

It said Ireland had been in breach of the directive since 2003 and progress to address the problem was not sufficient. If the situation is not remedied within four months, the case could be referred to the European Court of Justice.

“High THM levels have been linked to liver, kidneys and central nervous system diseases, bladder and colon cancer risks, as well as to effects on foetal growth, foetal viability and risks of foetal malformations,” the Commission’s notice stated.

In a complaint about THM lodged to the Commission, the Friends of the Irish Environment group called for customers to be informed of any exceedances in their water supply so that they can act to protect themselves.

“Consumers with supplies over the World Health Organisation levels can use simple charcoal filters to ensure that THMs are removed. They will not do this, however, unless they are made aware of the danger,” it said.

FIE said its 2011 submission showed that 24 counties had supplies breaching EU and WHO THM limits, with 14 counties having supplies double the THM limit, and one water supply, Ring in county Waterford, recording THM levels nine times the WHO/EU limit.

Cork, Kerry, Donegal and Wicklow recorded the greatest exceedances.

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