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Pregnant women told to avoid water from lead pipes


Bug threat warnings have been issued on water

Bug threat warnings have been issued on water

Bug threat warnings have been issued on water

Young children and pregnant women have been warned not to drink tap water in their homes if lead plumbing is present.

Irish Water has warned that up to 150,000 properties have internal lead piping, with 40,000 drawing their water from lead pipes controlled by the utility which could pose a health risk.

The warning comes after tests revealed that lead contamination of up to 80 times the legal limit has been detected in some Dublin homes, most built before the mid-1970s when lead piping stopped being used for internal plumbing.

Some 14 of the top 20 homes are in Raheny. Exposure to lead over time can affect mental and physical development.

Irish Water said it was in discussions with the HSE and Environmental Protection Agency about adding a chemical called orthophosphate to the water in homes with lead pipes which 'coats' the pipes and prevents lead from entering the water.

It intends beginning the treatment in Limerick city by the end of this year, before adding it to around 400 treatment plants from 2016 at a cost of €50m.

The move will be outlined in a public information and consultation campaign to be published in June.

Spokesman Jerry Grant said the company would spend €250m replacing lead pipes but it would take a decade to complete the works.

He recommended that people living in homes where there are lead pipes in their water system should run their taps for five minutes in the morning to flush out lead which may have accumulated overnight.

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