Sunday 21 July 2019

'I was alarmed - we take our water for granted'

Niamh Lunny found the tap water in her Crumlin home contained microplastic fibre. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Niamh Lunny found the tap water in her Crumlin home contained microplastic fibre. Photo: Gerry Mooney

Allison Bray

A Dublin woman who took part in the global study on microplastics in drinking water was shocked when traces were found in her household tap water.

Niamh Lunny (43), a mother-of-two from Crumlin, agreed to take part in the global survey of synthetic polymers in drinking water when she was contacted by an acquaintance last winter.

Orb Media, in conjunction with the University of Minnesota and the State University of New York, Fredonia, in the US, conducted the study.

The set and costume designer took a 500ml sample of drinking water from her kitchen tap in February and the results came back in recent weeks.

The amount of plastic in her water sample was one fibre - and wasn't enough to put her off drinking from her tap - but she said the results were a wake-up call.

Read More: Our drinking water is widely contaminated with tiny bits of plastic

"In one way, I was relieved because we have very old pipes and I was worried about lead," she said. "But I was alarmed that there's unidentified plastic in the water. It would make me query what's in it."

Other tests from a number of locations across Ireland for the Irish Independent also found varying levels of plastics in the water.

Now she worries about the future safety of our drinking water that could have implications in the future for her children, Séamus (11) and Fionnuala (8).

Read More: Irish samples found to be well in excess of global norm

"We do take our water for granted, but I don't think as a society that we can afford to," she said. "It's an issue we need to face up to."

The experience has made her think twice about using single-use plastic bags that are believed to account for some of the plastics that wind up in water supplies.

"I'd be reasonably environmentally aware. I'm no saint, but it's certainly made me think about single use plastic bags," she said.

"I think the plastic bag levy was one of the best things the Government has brought in," she said of the 2002 levy.

Irish Independent

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