A deadly toxin poisoning the water system, an evil organisation trying to keep it quiet and an environmental activist trying to get the truth out there – it sounds like the plot of a bad movie. Sadly this is not a work of fiction, albeit a bit sensationalised!
High levels of thihalomethanes (THM) has been found in the waters supplying around 10% of Irish homes. The levels are up to three times the number that are considered safe by EU and The World Health Organisation (WHO), with a new deadline set by 2020 to bring it within safe levels. But which 10% are affected you may rightly ask! Irish water refuse to individually inform customers affected leaving people in the dark unless you trawl through their website to find the answer yourself and not even all affected areas are mentioned.
It was only last week when Erin Brockovich, an american environmental campaigner famed for exposing and fighting against Pacific Gas and Electric Company company in the 1990s for contaminating water in California, took to social media to warn her ‘Irish cousins’ about the toxin that this serious issue came into the public’s eye.
On her Facebook page she said the following:
“My Irish cousins… trihalomethanes may result in increased cancer levels after long periods of consumption… but please don’t be fooled by this dodge of responsibility and factual sharing of information by your government!”
Studies have linked long time exposure to trihalomethane to cancers including liver, renal or bladder but it is more dangerous for pregnant women and can lead to greater risk of miscarriage, low birth rates and birth defects. The toxin is created when chlorine added to the water mixes with organic matter such as peaty soil and leaves.