A Government strategy to deal with lead contamination drinking water is expected to be agreed at today’s Cabinet meeting.
Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly will tell his Cabinet colleagues 75,000 homes have had lead detected in their pipes by Irish Water.
Homeowners will be responsible for the vast majority of the repairs and expenses incurred, though Mr Kelly is to establish a grant system to help households cover the cost of addressing issue.
The grant will not be available to every household and will target low income families.
On radio this morning, Irish Water warned that as many as 200,000 homes could be at risk of contamination.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny has this morning that lead contamination in water is a serious problem that has been going on for years.
“Clearly the metering programme carried out by Irish Water has identified that this is a serious programme,” Mr Kenny said.
“Obviously this has gone on for years so we’ll wait and see what report the Minister has for us.”
The Minister for Education Jan O’Sullivan will bring a list of schools that need urgent attention to Cabinet.
Irish Water, the HSE, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Commission for Energy Regulation and the Department of the Environment will be involved in the strategy.
Irish Water has confirmed it has identified, through its metering programme, some 650 homes in Limerick with a possible lead pipe connection, which is an indicator that the internal plumbing and pipes in these properties could also be made of lead.
Irish Water said there will be a national campaign to get all households to check for lead pipes in their homes.
It has begun the process of writing to up to 28,000 households .
Lead was used for pipework before the 1970s in many homes, schools and hospitals.
Lead contamination levels up to 80 times the legal limit have been detected in drinking water in Dublin.
Irish Water has identified the 20 homes in the capital where the highest levels of lead have been found.
Of these homes, 14 were in Raheny, with tests on one home on Watermill Drive showing levels of 825 micrograms per litre. The second highest reading was in Vernon Grove, Clontarf, at 123 micrograms per litre.
The remaining houses in the top five were all in Raheny, but the sixth highest reading was in Ranelagh, where levels of 97 micrograms were recorded in Chelmsford Road.
Lead in drinking water can cause a variety of adverse health effects.
In babies and children, exposure to lead in drinking water above the action level can result in delays in physical and mental development.