Irish Water and the Environmental Protection Agency have admitted high levels of thihalomethanes (THM) — up to three times the figure considered safe by the World Health Organisation — is piped to homes of 10% of the population.
Despite years of promising to bring it within EU and WHO levels, Irish authorities have now set 2020 as a new deadline but have refused to inform affected consumers individually.
However, American campaigner Ms Brockovich, who made her name fighting against a company contaminating ground water in California in the 1990s, has sent a message to her Irish Facebook followers.
She quoted a Harvard School of Public Health study in the US showing women exposed to even lower levels of THM than what the WHO recommended suffered more miscarriages and had babies with low birth rates.
“My Irish cousins... trihalomethanes may result in increased cancer levels after long periods of consumption... but please don’t be fooled by this dodge of responsibility and factual sharing of information by your government!
“Trihalomethanes are far more dangerous to pregnant women”, she said.
The campaigner, made famous by the 2000 film named after her starring Julia Roberts, said studies showed women exposed to drinking water over 80 ug/L (microgrammes per litre) of trihalomethanes have a greater risk of miscarriage in the first three months of pregnancy, and low birth weight in the second and third trimester.
The study of 56,513 infants born in Massachusetts in 1990 was based on their mothers’ exposure to 80 ug/L and was compared to those exposed to 60 ug/L, showing the greater the exposure, the smaller the baby.
Tony Lowes of Friends of the Irish Environment pointed out the WHO and EU limits are 100 mg/L and some Irish water supplies have up to 240 mg/L. He complained to the European Commission about the Irish authorities’ failure to clean up the water supply, and not informing people affected on their bills.
Irish Water said the information can be found on the Environmental Agency’s website. But, Mr Lowes points out, the list is difficult to find even for the internet savvy and does not name all affected sites.