Lead in Drinking Water

By Adrián Delgado

Mar. 05, 2020 09:00 am GMT

 

Lead in drinking water is a recognised health concern. Irish Water treat public water supplies and when water leaves the treatment plants its lead free.
However, lead plumbing was widely used in houses built before the 1980’s. It is estimated that 180,000 homes in Ireland together with public buildings, schools, medical centres and other buildings over 40 years old, may have lead plumbing. So, when water passes through lead pipes and fittings, lead can dissolve into it and may cause the lead levels to increase. By the time it reaches your taps it could have levels of lead contained in it which are above the recommended drinking water limits. As most of the lead plumbing is inside property boundaries its up to the house owner to check their water for lead levels. If there is lead which is above the allowed limit, the government has a grant scheme that you may qualify for.
Unfortunately this grant has not been taken up significantly by members of the public and only a small number of applicants applied for this in 2019. This is very concerning as it is estimated that 180,000 homes do contain lead plumbing.
Lead in drinking water has no unusual taste, appearance or smell. However, there are several
things you can do to check your system for lead:
  1. Check the age of your property. If your property was built before 1970 and you have
    not upgraded or replaced the pipes, you probably have pipes or fixtures that contain
    lead.
  2.  Check the plumbing. Lead pipes have an opaque grey colour that is soft enough to be
    scratched off with a house key.
  3. You see signs of deterioration: frequent leaks, rust-coloured water, stained dishes or laundry, or if your non-plastic plumbing is less than five years old.
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