Update: Irish Water working to remove remaining lead pipes from water network

Update 1.55pm: Irish Water says it is working to remove all remaining lead pipes from the public water network.

It comes after unsafe levels of lead were found in drinking water in more than 30 areas around the country.

Lead levels in some water samples across the country were found to be 15 times over the legal limit.

Irish Water figures obtained by the Irish Times show that a sample near Sutton Dart Station in Dublin was found to be the most contaminated by lead.

There were also unsafe levels at places including Kilkeedy in Clare which was 10 times over the limit and Rosses Point in Sligo which was found to contain 6 times the legal limit.

Minister for the environment Richard Bruton says there are no lead water mains in Ireland.

"The vast majority of these lead pipes are in the connections between the mains and homeowners," said Mr Bruton.

"Irish Water, I understand, have been progressively putting in a system to take out those. They don't have it in their own mains structure."

Richard Bruton
Richard Bruton

Long-term exposure to lead can cause high blood pressure, and potential harm to kidneys.

It could also affect brain development in children or to babies in the womb.

President of the National Association of GPs Dr Maitiu O'Toole says contaminated water is not safe to drink.

"Boiling water or filtering water will not remove lead from water," he said.

"So if there is any lead whatsoever, then the HSE's own advice is that that water should not be used for drinking water."

In a statement, Irish Water says that it is removing all remaining lead pipes and replacing them with plastic ones.

It is also piloting a programme where lining is applied to lead pipes to reduce the risk of lead eroding into the system.

Earlier: Lead levels in some water samples across the country over the legal limit

Lead levels in some water samples across the country are 15 times over the legal limit.

Unsafe levels have been found in drinking water samples in more than 30 areas since 2017.

Irish Water figures obtained by the Irish Times show that a sample near Sutton Dart Station in Dublin was found to be the most contaminated by lead - 15 above the legal limit.

There were also unsafe levels in Kilkeedy in Clare, with a sample last year found to be 10 times over the legal limit for safe consumption.

Meanwhile, a test carried out in Sligo was found to contain six times the legal limit.

Unsafe levels were also identified in Kilmacthomas in Co Waterford, Gorey in Wexford and Screggan in Offaly.

According to HSE guidelines, long-term exposure to lead can cause high blood pressure, and potential harm to kidneys.

It could also affect brain development in children or to babies in the womb.

Irish Water says there were no lead water mains in Ireland, however there are still some lead pipes.

It added that its planning to remove all remaining lead pipes from the public water network and replacing them with plastic ones.

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