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Lead in Drinking Water

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Reducing exposure to lead in drinking water

In June 2015, the government published a national strategy to reduce exposure to lead in drinking water. The strategy aims to address a legacy issue of public exposure to lead.  Lead piping and plumbing was commonly used in houses built up to and including the 1970s and remains a potential source of lead. Long-term exposure to lead can cause adverse health effects. Infants, young children and pregnant women are most at risk from the health effects of lead in drinking water.

The government’s strategy contains a range of actions to:

  • Raise awareness of the health risks from exposure to lead in drinking water
  • Support the replacement of lead pipes
  • Ensure engagement by government departments, state agencies and others to reduce the risks of lead in drinking water in public buildings
  • Monitor levels of lead and conduct research on possible measures to reduce its presence

Progress on the strategy will be monitored and reviewed by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage and the Department of Health.

National Strategy to Reduce Exposure to Lead in Drinking Water (pdf, 823kb)

Grant scheme to replace lead pipes and fittings announced

In order to reduce exposure to lead in drinking water, a grant scheme to assist low-income households with the costs of replacing lead pipes and fittings within their homes is now available. The new grant scheme has been established in line with the National Lead Strategy approved by Government in 2015. The principal features of the grant scheme are as follows:

  • Households with income of up to 50,000 euro per annum will be eligible to apply for a grant of 80% of approved costs with a maximum grant payable of 4,000 euro. Households with incomes between 50,001 euro and 75,000 euro will be eligible for a grant of 50% of approved costs with a maximum grant payable of 2,500 euro
  • A grant will only be paid after the works have been carried out and on production of a receipt
  • Applicants must provide evidence of household income – these requirements mirror the conditions for the septic tank and social housing grants which are also administered by the local authorities
  • Contractors engaged by householders must provide a copy of a current tax clearance certificate and certify that the works carried out and the materials and fittings used are of appropriate quality and standard

Full details of the grant scheme, including eligibility criteria are included in the Domestic Lead Remediation (Financial Assistance) Regulations 2016 (S.I. No. 56 of 2016) (pdf, 126kb)

The department has published a combined information leaflet and application form (pdf, 136kb) and an information leaflet on how to apply for the grant .

It has also published a technical guidance note for homeowners on the replacement of water-supply pipes made of lead .


Where do I find further information?

Further information

For information on the health effects of lead and advice on lead in drinking water - see HSE’s ‘Lead in Drinking Water – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), May 2015

Irish Water’s actions to mitigate the presence of lead in drinking water