MCPA in 80% of drinking water pesticide contaminations
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has called for a national pesticides strategy as multiple water supplies continue to exceed maximum residue standards.

The EPA new annual report on drinking water quality shows that 48 water supplies failed to meet standards for maximum pesticide residues at least once in 2017. This represents four more incidents than in 2016 and confirms the upward trend observed in the past six years.

Of these, four supplies showed "persistent failures" in Listowel, Co Kerry; Kilkenny city; Abbeyfeale, Co Limerick; and Longford central.

The EPA reported that Irish Water was investigating pesticides in 53 supplies serving over 660,000 people at the end of last year, down from 63 supplies affecting 900,000 at the end of 2016.

Almost 80% of all failures detected are of the herbicide MCPA

"Almost 80% of all failures detected are of the herbicide MCPA, commonly used to control rushes in grassland," the EPA found.

The overall increase in the number of drinking water quality failures in 2017 "was mainly due to an increase in the number of pesticide failures," the agency added.

Raising awareness

The National Pesticide and Drinking Water Action Group, led by the Department of Agriculture with representatives from Irish Water, local authorities, the farming community and pesticide manufacturers and suppliers, currently supports raising awareness in areas affected, including communicating responsible pesticide use to farmers through local media.

"However, a national pesticides strategy should be developed to include the actions that are to be taken, when communicating and working with pesticide users does not resolve the problem," the EPA warned.

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Summer holidays a high risk time for children on farms – HSA
The HSA and primary school principals have joined forces to promote farm safety before high-risk summer holiday period.

Summer holidays are a high-risk time for children who are off school and spend a lot of time on their family farm or visiting friends’ and relatives’ farms.

It is also a very busy time for farmers when much work needs to be done.

The Health and Safety Authority (HAS) and the Irish Primary Principals Network (IPPN) have issued a joint appeal to primary schools to promote a strong farm safety message to children before they break for the summer.

Farm accidents have claimed the lives of 23 children in the last decade and account for 11% of all farm fatalities over the period.

Farms remain the only workplace in Ireland where children still continue to die. Farm deaths involving children are always a horrific tragedy for families and heartbreaking for communities and schools alike.

The HSA website has numerous online farm safety resources for teachers to use in the classroom which can be covered in an interactive, fun and stimulating way. IPPN is supporting the HSA in communicating this important message to its members.

HSA education manager Joanne Harmon said: “Teachers can access a range of online farm safety resources for primary schools on our website at www.hsa.ie/education, under teacher supports and resources and some are available as gaeilge.

“These can be run on the classroom whiteboard or printed off to photocopy.

“The HSA’s elearning portal also hosts a short course entitled Keep Safe on the Farm which can be found at http://hsalearning.ie. This is aimed at primary school children and comes with teachers’ guidelines and is linked to the SPHE curriculum.”

Harmon added that farm safety is an explicit topic in the SPHE curriculum at primary level.

“Schools can make a real difference by empowering children to raising their own awareness of farm hazards and encouraging them to bring the safety message home to parents and grandparents,” she said.

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Two injured in under-age tractor driving incident
Police in Northern Ireland said two juveniles were injured in an incident with a tractor driven by a third one.

The PSNI's Cookstown unit said on its Facebook page that it joined two ambulances and paramedics at the scene in Coagh, Co Tyrone this Sunday.

"Two juveniles fell from a tractor being driven by a third juvenile," police said. "Both sustained injuries significant enough that they required transfer by ambulance to hospital. The tractor should not have been on the road and should not have been carrying passengers."

Officers have prepared a file for the Public Prosecution Service against the driver for "a range of offences," adding that the incident "could have been a lot worse".

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