In the wide spread media praise for the EPA's recent "Provision and Quality of Drinking Water in Ireland", a dramatic increase in cancer causing chemicals from 4.0% in 2008 to 16.1% in 2009 went entirely unreported in the media.

'Trihalomethanes' [THMs - 'tri-halo-methane'] - which result in increased cancer and other diseases - are a by-product of the use of chlorine to disinfect water with too much organic material - typically the ‘peaty' colour produced by the drainage of bogs.

FIE has been campaigning for two years to have the EPA determine the cause of the release of the organic materials - forestry and peat extraction particularly - to enable the polluter pays principle to be brought into use. The EPA flatly refuses to do this research, and the media obliges by refusing to cover the issue. Why does this remind us of cryptosporidium, where it took dramatic outbreaks of illness to force the authorities to address the issue?

The figures for 2009 show that 16 per cent of all water supplies now fail the safe limits set by the World Health Organisation for THMs. For public group water schemes the figure is much higher with 31% of supplies exceeding the WHO limits.

158 supplies failed to comply, but of the 28 Directions issues to Local Authorities to improve water supplies only 4 were for trihalomethanes.


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