US ENVIRONMENTAL campaigner Erin Brockovich – whose story was depicted on film by Julia Roberts – has added her voice to the Irish campaign against toxins in Irish water, being led by Beara-based Friends of the Irish Environment (FIE).
The Irish environmental group is campaigning for consumers to be informed on their bills of chemicals in their water exceeding the recommended EU and WHO levels.
And last week, US environmental campaigner Erin Brockovich warned what she called her ‘Irish cousins’ on her Facebook page that they should ‘not to be fooled by this dodge of responsibility and factual sharing of information by your government.’
FIE says that ‘Irish Water, the EPA, and the Health and Safety Authority have tried to convince the public that it would be dangerous and irresponsible to stop chlorinating to avoid the risk of the disinfectant by-product created’ in the process – the by-product includes more than 60 chemicals classed as THMs (trihalomentanes).
FIE says that the permitted level of THMs in drinking water was lowered in 2008 by the WHO and the EU, as a result of a growing body of research highlighting the risks.
‘International reviews of studies of THMs in drinking water showed that there may be associations with human cancer with particular dangers to pregnant women,’ said Tony Lowes of FIE this week.
‘Ireland was condemned by the European Court of Justice in November 2002 because of the microbiological contamination of hundreds of public and private water supplies,’ added Mr Lowes.
‘The EU’s Drinking Water Directive requires an absence of e.coli in drinking water supplies in order to protect human health because these bacteria point to a high risk of human pathogens being present.’
FIE cites the example of New York City which, it says, ‘protects its water sources so carefully that most of it does not even require filtration. Minimal chlorine is used only in conjunction with UV light which inactivates harmful microorganisms but does not change the water chemically, as nothing is added except energy.’ These chemicals were not there before Irish Water treated our water and Irish water is creating these chemicals by using the wrong kind of disinfectant for our surface waters, claimed Mr Lowes. ‘THMs are a by-product of the current disinfection process and a different process would eliminate this risk.’