09 Jun 600,000 Irish are drinking water with deadly chemicals
More than half a million Irish people are drinking tap water which contains higher than permitted levels of potentially cancer-causing chemicals and exceeds World Health Organisation limits.
EPA data shows that in 2012, 598,951 consumers were receiving water with excessive levels of trihalomethanes. THMs are a by-product of the chlorination of water containing brown organic matter such as peat.
Prolonged consumption of drinking water with high levels of THM has been linked to diseases of the liver, kidneys, bladder and central nervous system, as well as with an increased risk of cancer.
“The presence of THMs has been shown to be very high in some parts of the country and this is clearly not acceptable,” said Dr Paddy Flanagan, chemist and water expert at the Environmental Protection Agency.
“It is known that THMs are carcinogens and therefore pose a potential risk to consumers drinking water which contains them in excess. There is a chronic shortage of data in this area and the real problem is that we do not know the on-going level of exposure to THMs because not enough sampling is being done. No-one knows what the long-term effects of chlorinated water will be, but if all of this new research is anything to go by, we have a serious problem on our hands.”
In 2006, Canadian chemists revealed that high levels of THMs caused a significant rise in the number of stillbirths. Chlorine is also associated with an increased risk of bowel and bladder cancer, diseases whose incidence in Ireland is among the highest in the world. A further Canadian study in 1995 found a 60% increase in the risk of bladder cancer for people exposed to high levels of chlorinated by-products for 35 years or more.
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