WATERY REACTION: Why are potentially harmful chemicals in our drinking water still going untreated?
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Ireland’s drinking water in many parts of the country isn’t up to scratch.

The European Court of Justice ruled in January 2024 that Ireland hadn’t done enough to reduce levels of trihalomethanes (THMs) - chemicals created when water with high levels of organic matter is treated with chlorine disinfectant.

Health effects of short-term use of drinking such water are unlikely, according to the HSE, but it states some THMs could have short- and long-term health effects, from dizziness to liver and kidney damage.

Our team will investigate why this problem has been left untreated for so long.


Disinfecting drinking water with chlorine to kill bacteria and viruses is a routine public health measure used around the world to prevent serious water-borne illnesses.

Added to water with a high level or organic matter, however, chemical by-products called THMs can form. These can have short- and long-term health risks and the World Health Organisation (WHO) classifies them as possibly carcinogenic to humans.

The HSE stresses that possible health risks from THMS are “much less than the risks from consuming water that has not been disinfected”. Yet there are potential health risks and Ireland has exceeded safety limits since at least 2012.

We will speak to experts to find out what these risks are and why the EU and WHO limits were put in place.

In 2023, twenty-two water supplies were on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) remedial action list because their THM levels were too high. This affects almost 300,000 people and includes supplies in Kilkenny City, Limerick City, Longford and Navan.

Our investigative team will map the areas affected by poor drinking water quality.

In 2021, the European Commission filed a complaint against Ireland and the European Court upheld it in 2024.

Through Freedom of Information (FOI) requests, we will uncover why the State has dragged its feet on the matter for so long and find out what plans are in place to fix the problem.

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