RESIDENTS in parts of Raheny are buying bottled water after it was revealed that tap water in their area has the highest lead-contamination in Dublin.
Irish Water have said that 14 of the 20 homes in Dublin that are most contaminated are located in the northside suburb.
The utility has written to 28,000 homeowners nationwide who they know are affected - but it is believed that up to 200,000 homes in the country are in danger of lead contamination.
Recent tests on drinking water in Raheny found that one home there had more than 80 times the maximum safe limit.
Homeowners with lead plumbing will be responsible for fixing their piping system, although there will be grants available.
Raheny resident Christina Moran (26) has two young children - Jack (5) and Molly (3) - and has been buying bottled water for the past four months because she is worried about the damage the lead could do to her children if it builds up.
"I heard that the lead is meant to be bad for the child's brain development, so I went straight out and started buying bottled water, because I was afraid about what it would do to the kids," said Christina.
Aideen Pollard and Dave McManus pictured with their water supply at their Raheny home
"Bottled water is all we're using at the minute, so I'm going down, buying litres of it all the time. I've been doing this for the past four months or so - ever since I heard about the [lead]levels around here and how it can be damaging.
"I didn't realise at first that you couldn't use it when you're cooking food. I thought that once you boiled it it would be okay, but it's not.
"It costs a lot of money, especially when you're expected to pay water charges for showers and washing clothes too," Christina added.
Lorraine Ward (30) is living in her mother's house on Watermill Drive in Raheny - a road where it was revealed that one particular house had the highest lead contamination in Dublin, with levels of 825 micrograms per litre of water.
"I got a kidney transplant in November, so it's vitally important for me to be drinking water all of the time," said Lorraine.
"I have to rely on bottled water because even when you taste the water from the taps in here you can notice the difference. It doesn't taste like water," she added.
Aideen Pollard and Dave McManus, who live on the same road, don't think that households should have to pay anything to fix a lead system that they didn't put in place.
"The corporation built them back in the day, so I don't see why homeowners should have to pay anything for it," said Aideen.
Local TD Sean Kenny - who also lives in Raheny - thinks that the grants system should be means-tested to include families with children that will be above the income bracket.
"A means-tested system would have to take that into account, they will have to look at families when they're drawing it up and the income compared to the number of kids that are in the house," said Mr Kenny.
The Labour TD, who lives in Raheny, is telling residents to take the necessary precautions (see panel below), while they are waiting for the grant system to be put into place.
"The issue has been recognised and that's certainly welcome. I was getting numerous calls from people expressing their concerns to me.
"These people were living in houses that were built before the 1970s, when nobody knew of the dangers of lead.
"My house was built in 1969, and I'm under the impression that there isn't any lead in my system, but I'm going to have to get it checked and people will have to take the same precautions and get it checked.
"As far as I know it's pregnant women and children that are most under threat from lead poisoning," he added.
SINEAD RYAN: PAGE 14