Appeal to farmers after weedkiller detected in drinking water in Mayo

Users urged to be responsible when spraying pesticides

Stock photo
Stock photo
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

An exceedance for the herbicide glyphosate has been detected in the public drinking water supply in Newport, Co. Mayo.

Glyphosate is a broad spectrum herbicide used mainly for the control of annual broadleaf weeds and grasses and is found in a number of weed killer formulations used by gardeners and farmers.

It has hit the headlines recently following a host of high-profile court cases. Recently a Californian jury awarded more than $2bn (€1.8bn) to a couple who claimed Bayer AG's glyphosate-based Roundup weedkiller caused their cancer.

However, Bayer AG which owns the product is confident its appeals of recent court rulings that its glyphosate weed killer Roundup caused cancer will be successful.

Dr Pat O’Sullivan, Regional Drinking Water Compliance Specialist with Irish Water said in Co Mayo, the exceedance of the drinking water regulations for Glyphosate was noted in the Newport supply in May.

"While the HSE has advised that the levels seen do not represent a threat to public health, it is, however, undesirable and it is therefore imperative that users of pesticides are mindful of best practice when spraying their lands.

“Irish Water is continuing its extensive investment programme to improve water and wastewater services in Ireland. Providing safe, clean drinking water for all is our first priority," he said.

He said Irish Water is working in partnership with the National Pesticides and Drinking Water Action Group (NPDWAG), is appealing to farmers, sporting organisations and other users of pesticides to carefully follow the guidelines when applying these chemicals to their lands.

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"A single drop of pesticide can breach the drinking water limit in a small stream for up to 30 kilometres.

"This clearly highlights the potential risks facing many of Ireland’s drinking water sources," Irish Water has said.

Certain pesticides being detected more frequently

Recent Drinking water monitoring results for Ireland show that a number of pesticides commonly used such as Bentazone, MCPP, MCPA, Clopyralid and Fluroxypyr, are being detected more frequently.

"We are working in partnership with the National Pesticides and Drinking Water Action Group and would like to remind farmers and professional users of pesticides to follow best practice in the application of pesticides on land, particularly near lakes and rivers used as drinking water sources," Irish Water said in a statement.

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