An investigation of the trace organic contamination of Irish groundwater and a review of current analytical techniques
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Groundwater is a major natural resource in Ireland. It has been estimated that 30% of the drinking water supply in Ireland is provided by this source. Most of the groundwater is of a potable quality but any contamination of groundwater could lead to severe consequences. Due to the increased usage of organic compounds as well as the wide variety of organics in use, it is necessary to take protective measures to conserve this important resource. Groundwater was previously considered to be immune from contamination and for many years Irish groundwater was free from major pollution. This was due to a large extent on the fact that : • the majority of the population lived in rural areas • most of the urban settlements were located on the coast • there is an abundance of water in Ireland. The assessment of the existing data on groundwater contamination is difficult. Many aquifers have never been sampled. There is a tendency to sample only those aquifers where a problem has occurred or those at risk of contamination. There is also frequently insufficient information on the sampling conditions used and the nature of the aquifers and many wells have only been sampled once. Pollution of Irish groundwater’s is no longer a possible problem but a reality. Widescale pollution is occurring as a result of industrial, agricultural and domestic carelessness. This project addresses the issues of E.C Directives EEC/76/464 (Pollution caused by certain dangerous substances discharged into the aquatic environment) and EEC/80/68 (Protection of groundwater against pollution caused by certain dangerous substances). It details the potential sources of trace organic contamination and examines the current information available on the occurrence and determination of organic contaminants in Irish groundwater, the methods for sampling and analysis of these contaminants and the value of the resulting information.
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