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Glyphosate detected in public drinking water supplies

Exceedances for the pesticide, glyphosate, have been detected in the public drinking water supplies in four different areas of Co. Leitrim.

Following routine sampling of drinking water supplies, the exceedances were recorded in Balinaglearagh, Dromahair, Ballinamore and Mong, according to Irish Water.  

Glyphosate is a broad-spectrum herbicide used mainly for the control of annual broadleaf weeds and grasses and is found in a number of weed killer formulations used by gardeners and growers, it noted.

Mindful of best practice when spraying lands

Dr Pat O’Sullivan, Irish Water’s regional drinking water compliance specialist said:“In Co. Leitrim, the exceedances of the drinking water regulations for Glyphosate was noted in these supplies following routine sampling in June.”

“While the HSE has advised that the levels seen do not represent a threat to public health, it is, however, undesirable and it is, therefore, imperative that users of pesticides are mindful of best practice when spraying their lands.”

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“Irish Water is continuing its extensive investment programme to improve water and wastewater services in Ireland. Providing safe, clean drinking water for all is our first priority.”

Pesticides being detected more frequently 

Adding to this, Dr Aidan Moody, chair of NPDWAG commented: “The continued engagement of all stakeholders, working in partnership, is needed to tackle this issue.”

“Users of pesticides should make sure that they are aware of the best practice measures that should be followed to protect water quality.”

Recent drinking water monitoring results for Ireland show that a number of pesticides commonly used such as Bentazone, MCPP, MCPA, Clopyralid and Fluroxypyr, are being detected more frequently.

Irish Water working in partnership with the National Pesticides and Drinking Water Action Group would like to remind farmers and professional users of pesticides to follow best practice in the application of pesticides on land, particularly near lakes and rivers used as drinking water sources.

Basic steps to reduce risks

If pesticides have to be used, the basic steps in reducing risks, Irish Water, said are:

  • Choose the right pesticide product (Note that products containing MCPA are NOT approved for use in weed-wipers.)Read and follow the product label;
  • Determine the right amount to purchase and use;
  • Don’t spray if rain or strong wind is forecast in the next 48 hours;
  • Make sure you are aware of the location of all nearby water courses;
  • Comply with any buffer zone specified on the product label to protect the aquatic environment. Mark out the specified buffer zone from the edge of the river or lake or other watercourse;
  • Never fill a sprayer directly from a watercourse or carry out mixing, loading or other handling operations beside a watercourse;
  • Avoid spills, stay well back from open drains and rinse empty containers 3 times into the sprayer;
  • Store and dispose of pesticides and their containers properly.
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