Glyphosate detected in drinking water in Leitrim

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

The utility company noted that 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.

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

Irish Water, working in partnership with a range of organisations involved in the National Pesticides and Drinking Water Action Group (NPDWAG), has issued advice to all users of pesticides to ensure that best practice measures to protect drinking waters are always followed.

If pesticides have to be used, the basic steps in reducing risks are:
  • Choose the right pesticide product;
  • 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 water course;
  • Never fill a sprayer directly from a water course or carry out mixing, loading or other handling operations beside a water course;
  • Avoid spills, stay well back from open drains and rinse empty containers three times into the sprayer;
  • Store and dispose of pesticides and their containers properly.

The efforts to reduce the incidence of these detections are being coordinated by the NPDWAG.

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 [Health Service Executive] 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.

“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.”

The utility firm noted that 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.