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Unsafe lead levels found in drinking water

NEWS that lead concentrations of nearly 15 times over the legal limit have been found in tests in north Dublin and unsafe levels found elsewhere in the country is bound to give cause for concern.
In fact, since the start of 2017 unsafe levels of lead have been found in drinking water in more than 30 areas, according to figures from Irish Water obtained by the Irish Times under the Freedom of Information Act.
Among the tests listed was a property in Rosses Point, Sligo, last year which found levels six times higher than the limit for safe consumption. A test in Kilkeedy, Co. Clare, found lead levels more than 10 times above safe drinking limits at 113 mg/l.
The most serious result was from a test of drinking water near Sutton Dart station, north Co Dublin which found lead contamination nearly 15 times above the legal limit last year. Other parts of north Dublin, including Coolock, tested with concentration 12 times above the legal limit.
HSE guidelines state that long-term exposure to lead can affect brain development in children, or babies in the womb. It can also cause harm to kidneys and cause high blood pressure, and is classed as a probable carcinogen.
It is generally accepted the contamination is the result of older lead pipes still in use across the public water network. Irish Water say there are no lead water mains in Ireland. However, service connections within properties can contain traces of lead. The vast majority of lead pipes are contained within properties built up to and including the 1970s. Though plumbing may have been upgraded or replaced within such property consumers should still check the pipe that runs from their property boundary to the kitchen tap. This may be a lead pipe. Irish Water point out what to look for on their official website.
Where local authority audits of water quality find lead concentrations over the legal limit of 10mg per litre (mg/l), Irish Water is notified. The water utility then follows up with affected properties, along with the Environmental Protection Agency and Health Service Executive (HSE).