Lead is commonly found in the environment. It comes from a variety of sources and may be present in air, food, soil or water. Excessive exposure to lead can be harmful, with pregnant women and children under the age of 6 being more susceptible to its effects.
What standards apply for lead levels in drinking water?
In December 2003 the limit for lead in drinking water was reduced from 50 micrograms per litre to 25 micrograms per litre. This will be reduced further to 10 micrograms per litres in 2013. The EPA recently confirmed that over 99% of samples taken across the country are compliant with this standard. Exceedances of the lead standard tend to be due to either the presence of lead in the distribution network of the local authority or the presence of lead in the internal plumbing of a domestic plumbing system or both.
What is the position in
The water supplied by Cork City Council emanates from the Lee Rd Water Treatment Plant and the Inniscarra Water Treatment Plant. Water is tested at these facilities on an ongoing basis against a range of chemical, microbiological and indicator parameters and both facilities produce water of very high quality.
Lead is one of the 26 separate chemical parameters against which water is tested.
The water produced for the City at the above treatment plants does not contain elevated lead levels.
The mains distribution system in
(*ref results of water tests for Cork City as per the EPA Annual Report on the Quality of Drinking Water in Ireland).
In the event of any exceedance being found the matter will be fully investigated in consultation with the householder, the HSE and the EPA and appropriate action taken and/or advices given so as to remedy any problems arising.
How Do I Know If There Are Lead Pipes In My Home?
If your home has been built or modernised since the early 1970’s, or the pipework replaced from the stop valve outside your home to the kitchen tap, there should be no lead pipe on your property.
If you are unsure, you can make a simple check:
Inside your home - Look in or behind the cupboards in your kitchen. You may also need to look in other places, e.g. the cupboard under the stairs. Find the pipe leading to the kitchen tap. Check if it is lead along as much of its length as possible. Unpainted lead pipes are dull grey and soft. If you scrape the surface gently with a knife, you will see the shiny, silver-coloured metal beneath.
Outside your home - Open the flap of the stop valve outside your property. Examine the pipe leading from the stop valve to the property, and follow the procedure as outlined above.
Who Is Responsible For The Pipework?
The part of the service pipe leading from the stop valve outside your property to the kitchen tap point is your responsibility or your landlord’s. The part of the service pipe which links the water main in the street to the stop valve outside your property is the responsibility of the local authority.
What can I do to reduce lead levels?
If you have concerns regarding possible lead levels in your drinking water, take the following short-term precautions:
Testing your water supply
The Council carries out an ongoing programme of testing on public water supplies. Where a consumer is concerned and wishes to have a water supply tested independently the Council will be happy to provide contact details of accredited laboratories.
Contact details for relevant organisations –Environment Directorate,