Blood Lead Levels Normal - Joint Update from Galway City Council and HSE

29 September 2008

Joint Update from Galway City Council and HSE

Blood results
We have received results of blood lead levels on 35 people: all of the results received to date are within the normal range, which means that none of those tested has any evidence of lead toxicity. Most of these people have been informed of these results today.

Programme of work
Meetings took place today between staff of Galway City Council, HSE and the Environmental Protection Agency. A programme of work has been agreed. The actions include:

  • Short term (4-6 weeks): work has started to adjust the pH of the water to reduce the interaction between the water and the lead pipes
  • Medium term (6-9 months): Galway City Council has brought in experts to advise on international best practice to further reduce the interaction between the water and lead pipes, until the pipes can be replaced
  • Long term (2-5years): replacement of lead pipe distribution network.

Water testing
Additional water testing has been done in the original houses surveyed: the results show no significant changes in the lead levels.

Galway City Council intends to conduct extensive water sampling in the city that will provide more information on which to base further advice.

Public health advice remains the same:

For Old Mervue :

  • In Old Mervue it is not safe to drink the water or to use it for cooking until further notice. Boiling the water will not make it safe as it does not remove the lead.
  • Residents of Old Mervue, especially children under 6 years, pregnant women and women planning a pregnancy, should use boiled water from the tanks in Old Mervue, or bottled water for drinking.
  • Infant formula should be prepared with boiled water from the tanks in Mervue or suitable bottled water. Suitable bottled waters include brands with a sodium content of less than 20mg per litre. The sodium content is written on the side of the bottle as 'Sodium' or 'Na' followed by a number.

For the rest of City:

  • If your home was built or modernised since 1970 it is unlikely that there are any lead pipes on your property.
  • Pregnant women and carers of children under 6 who live or stay in houses built before 1970 should flush the pipes as a precaution. To do this, the cold water kitchen tap should be run to fill the sink, particularly first thing in the morning or if the water has been unused in the pipes for longer than six hours. Tap water can be used until further notice.
  • Tap water is safe for bathing, showering, brushing teeth, washing dishes and clothes even if homes have lead service pipes.

Where we have specific information on houses with high levels of lead in the water, individual advice has been given.

There is a planned programme of detailed sampling and we are asking for the public's cooperation. These tests will be priority - we are asking the public not to bring water samples to the HSE laboratory for now as staff will be dealing with the sampling programme.

For further information please contact:

Galway City Council: Máire Ní Mhulláin, 087-7545172

HSE: Caitriona Meehan 086 606 9749

Last updated on: 29 / 09 / 2008