Antibiotics in Tap Water A Growing Concern For Ireland

A new research report from the Irish EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) shows how antibiotics are getting into the environment, particularly water sources and looks at the possible effects of antibiotics in the environment on human health. It is now commonplace for antibiotics to fail or not work as intended, which was unheard of 20 years ago. The immediate public health concern discussed in the report, considers the effect of antibiotics in water and how microbes in water change to become more antibiotic resistant.

The increased use of antibiotics is influenced by an increasing and aging population, longer survival of people with complex illnesses, changes in food production systems, farming practices and other social and economic factors. Effluent from hospitals can be heavily contaminated with antibiotics and pathogens. Modern farming practices rely heavily on antibiotics, used as preventative medication to keep animals alive and healthy in confined spaces such as in intensive dairy farms, piggeries, broiler houses, poultry farms and anywhere animals are confined in close cramped conditions. The antibiotics are usually included in processed animal feed or administered directly into farm animals such as dairy cows in large dairy herds. Animal waste from chickens, cows and pigs in confined conditions includes a number of potentially harmful pollutants including nitrogen, phosphorus, antibiotics, pathogens and hormones. For people living in rural areas such as the Golden Vale and other intensive farming areas, an effective home water filtration system is a great way to protect home drinking water from water borne contamination including antibiotics previously used to treat animals or humans.

The new report from the Irish Environmental Protection Agency is entitled “Hospital Effluent: Impact on the Microbial Environment & Risk to Human Health” and it goes into great detail on the threat to Irish water by antibiotic-resistant bacteria…Read More

Limerick To Trial Orthophosphate in Drinking Water Supplies

orthophosphate in drinking water

Limerick has been chosen as the test site by Irish Water to use a chemical called Orthophosphate which is hoped will reduce the amount of lead leaking into the city’s drinking water supplies. While the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends lead in the water should be combated by replacing the lead piping, it has acknowledged adding Orthophosphate to the supply could be a temporary solution. A safer solution is to add a filtration system to remove lead and other metals from drinking water. Limerick was chosen because it is on the Shannon estuary and not near fresh water bodies. The chemical Orthophosphate is classified as a phosphate (as in fertilisers) and can cause blue-green algae blooms in fresh water, a phenomenon that is already occurring on Lough Derg due to the over-use of fertilisers and subsequent run-off from farm land. Blue-green algae blooms in fresh water can produce  potentially toxic cyanobacteria, which is a threat to human health. Pets and wildlife can die as a result of drinking water contaminated with cyanobacteria from algae blooms. In humans, contaminated water can cause acute stomach illness and skin rashes. With algae growth only set to rise, thanks in part to global climate change and the over-use of fertilisers in farming, the impact of its growth on human drinking water is a growing concern. Because Limerick is on an estuary, Irish Water say it is safe to add it to the city water supply…Read More (PDF)