High levels of lead in mains water

High levels of lead in mains water

By David Raleigh

A family has been warned not to drink from a mains water supply after tests showed excessive levels of chemical lead.

Limerick City and County Council directly contacted the homeowner after routine tests showed unsafe levels.

The privately owned dwelling is on the Knockalisheen Rd, Ballynanty, on Limerick’s northside.

Further tests are being conducted to establish any health risks to nearby residents.

Director of water services Kieran Lehane said no other householders in the area had yet been contacted.

Lead is commonly used in household plumbing materials and water service lines. The greatest exposure to lead is swallowing or breathing in lead paint chips and dust.

Lead in drinking water can also cause a variety of adverse health effects. In babies and children, exposure to lead in drinking water may result in delays in physical and mental development, along with slight deficits in attention span and learning abilities. In adults, it may cause increases in blood pressure.

Lead is rarely found in source water, but enters tap water through corrosion of plumbing materials.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, “lead can be present in drinking water, as lead piping, lead solder, and lead-lined water tanks — commonly used in plumbing up to about 1970 — so some people may still be getting water through these older plumbing systems.”

According to guidelines published in 2003, people living in homes built around the 1970s should check whether lead has been used in the pipework of service connections or internal plumbing. It also recommended that “all lead pipes be replaced” over time.

The HSE said yesterday there is “no health risk” associated with asbestos pipes, after it emerged a pipe made from cement bound with asbestos had broken in Caherdavin on Monday. Another pipe burst the following day resulted in hundreds of homes losing supply for several hours.

Mr Lehane said: “The discovery was made as a result of routine tests. The HSE advised us to tell the person they shouldn’t continue drinking the water until the situation is rectified.”

Asked if people living near the house had been contacted by the council, Mr Lehane said: “No. We have carried out further tests in the area and we are waiting those results. It will take about a week.”

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