09 Jun Chlorinated water could be the reason for Ireland’s higher rate of birth defects
Recently undertaken by the National Institute of Public Health in Norway, a study provides new evidence to show that drinking water treated with chlorine is associated with higher levels of birth defects, in particular spina bifida, a fault in spinal cord development which shatters the lives of seven babies born in Ireland every month. Children living in areas where tap water is chlorinated had a 14% higher chance of having birth defects than those in non-chlorinated regions. The risk of urinary tract abnormalities was shown to double.
In Ireland, the country with the second highest levels of spina bifida in the world, chlorine is added to approximately 90% of the national water supply, excluded only from some private group water schemes and dwellings with their own wells.
Chlorine works as a disinfectant because it is extremely chemically reactive. When it combines with organic matter in water it forms trihalomethanes (THMs), toxic chemicals which are associated with stillbirth and cancer and which are known to be present in some water supplies in Ireland.
While levels of fluoride and aluminium, the other main chemicals added to the Irish water supply, are regulated under EU and Irish Drinking Water legislation, no such upper limit exists for chlorine.