Lead in Water

By raymond, Friday, 23rd January 2015 | 0 comments
Filed under: The Water Cooler.

There has been a lot of exposure in the media recently to the concentrations of lead in drinking water supplies in Ireland. Lead can occur naturally but has also been widely used in the manufacture of paint, fuel, food cans and also pipework. The reduction of lead in industry has meant that the majority of lead contamination in drinking water comes from pipework connections and internal plumbing.

To start, it is important to know what the maximum allowable concentration of lead is. This is known as the parametric value and has been set as 10 micrograms/litre.  This parametric value was previously 25 micrograms/litre up until the 25th December 2013. The latest report from the EPA on lead in drinking water (2013) has shown that there were 11 exceedances of the old 25 microgram/litre in 2013 but based on the the new 10 microgram/litre limit, there would have been 46 exceedences, a substantial increase.

Studies have shown that approximately 10% of lead ingested is absorbed in adults but this can be 3-4 times this amount in children. The health effects of exposure  to lead include damage to the kidneys, the central nervous system and blood systems.

The good news out of all of this is that it seems that the majority of the issues with lead contamination in drinking water comes from plumbing pipes and fittings. This means that it is something that can be resolved by replacing them over time. This of course costs money and it is an area that Irish Water are going to have to invest in before there is a major improvement

If you have had your water analysed and it has been found to have lead concentrations in exceedance of the parametric value, it is advised that you flush out your tap for at least 5 minutes before consuming. It is advisable that an alternative source of water is used for formula milk, young children or pregnant women.

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