4 . SAFETY OF DRINKING WATER

Contaminated Drinking Water In Ireland

4.1 Background

A large number of State-run and private drinking water supplies throughout

Ireland have become contaminated by E. Coli, Clostridia, Fecal Stretococci

and other bacteria and parasites in the last 5 years. It is unsave to

drink this water or use it for personal hygiene. The risks of infection are

now significant

4.2 Extent

Thre are some 749 contaiminated water supplies variously affected at

present, both inrural and urban areas, including parts of Dublin. 49% of

all national drinking water supplies are not bacteriologically

contaminated. These contaminated water supplies are to be found in every

county in Ireland

4.3 The Risks

Some of the potential bacterial contaminants like E Coli 0157 and

Cryptosporidium, have a low infective doe (less than 10 organisms compared

with 50,000 organisms for Salmonella) so only a small amount of the

affected water is requred to cause infection.

E. Coli and Cryptosporidium produce extremely virulent toxins, which can be

fatal.

Be particularly vigilant with small children, the elderly or anyone with a

compromised immune system.

Cryptosporidium is not destroyed by disinfection or chlorination and

potentially survive on plates and cutlery for long periods after washing in

contaminated water.

4.4 Checking the Drinking Water in Your Area

Check the drinking water quality in the area you are staying by calling at

the offices of the local Council Sanitary Services. ASk for hte

bacteriological drinking water quality results for the area. If any of the

rsults show any coliform or faecal coliform results, you should assume that

the water in the area is unfirt for human consumption.

The EU and the World Helath orangisation maximum acceptable level for both

Coliforms and E. Coli is zero. unfortunately the Irish Governmane is

currently ignoring these standards in practice.

National Results for all parts of the country can be obtained from the

Environmental Protection Agency's publication "The Quality of Drinking

Water in Ireland"

Call EPA on 01-6674474

4.5 PRECAUTIONS YOU CAN TAKE

Precautions

Whilst travelling in affected areas:

* Drink only reliable bottled water;.

* Do not use ice.

* Sterilise/wash bayb bottles etc. with sterile water. DO NOt use

tap water.

* Do not use affecte waster to wash yourself, you food or your

kitchen equipment unless the water has been kept at boiling point for at

least 10 minutes. Note: Boiling affected water does not destroy

/Clostridia.

* Do not use affected water for brushing teeth. Use carefully around

eyes and mouth when washing, if it must be used.

* Particular care should be taken when taking casual breaksin your

journey. Many areas are not yet aware of the contamination risks.

* Be particularly careful with young children, the elderly and the

sick. Infection can be fatal.

* If in doubt, use bottled water.

Report any abdominal pains, sickness or diarrhoea to a medical practitioner

im- Mediately

Affected area are listed on the Web.

IRISH FIGURES ON THE ENVIRONMENTAL WATCH IRELAND SITE.


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