Pesticides in Irish drinking water:

Cathal Walsh
Environmental Blogger
Wednesday, 8th May 2019
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Tractor spraying pesticides on a field of crops

Pesticides in Irish drinking water:

The term "pesticide" is a composite term that includes all chemicals that are used to kill or control pests. Pesticides are used widely in agriculture all throughout the world. They protect crops from pests until they are ready to be harvested and sold.

Pesticides are very important, especially in developing countries because of food shortages in some regions. In the context of the European eco-system, farmers would lose upwards of 85 percent of their crops to pests if pesticides were not available. This figure highlights the importance of pesticides for sustainable crop growth and food supply.

Pesticides are potentially toxic to humans and can have both acute and chronic health effects. Some pesticides can also be a lot more toxic than others. The degree of toxicity of a pesticide to humans depends on the type of pesticide. It is more common for some of the older pesticides to be more toxic. The actual health effects of many modern pesticides is disputed, however it is a common goal to keep them away from human consumption for as often as possible in order to avoid speculation on this point.

How do pesticides get into water sources?

Around 82 percent of the drinking water supply in Ireland comes from surface water(rivers, lakes, streams ). Pesticides can get into surface water by a variety of ways.  The most obvious is by spraying of pesticides on weeds too close to a river.  It can also happen where a pesticide runs off from land into a stream as a result of a period of heavy rain. Sprayed pesticide may also be carried by the wind into water sources during windy periods.

Pesticides may also seep through soil into groundwater sources like wells if pesticides are used in too close a proximity to the well.

Are there any dangerous pesticides in use in Ireland?

The Roundup weed killer is the first one that comes to mind. A case was recently won in the US by a groundskeeper who successfully proved that roundup was a large cause in his terminal cancer.

Roundup is used by many county councils and private parties for killing weeds in public parks and fields. For this reason it may easily make its way into a water supply.

This is just one example of potentially dangerous pesticides which are in use in Ireland.

If you suspect that your water may be contaminated with pesticides then it is of the utmost importance that you get your water tested right away. 

To test your water for pesticides follow the link

If you do find that your drinking water has been contaminated with pesticides then do not worry. There are a range of treatment options available.

Reverse osmosis and granulated charcoal filtration are both affordable, effective treatments for removing pesticides. These are both point of use systems.

For a household I would recommend Granulated Activated Carbon (GAC) filters as they are easy to use and relatively cheap. They remove pesticides when the contaminant sticks to the carbon, coal, or charcoal.

Both of these systems however will effectively remove any pesticides from your water and render it safe to drink.





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