A first national survey highlights the high levels of radon in areas of Ireland.

The survey titled 'Radon in Irish Dwellings' was carried out by the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland. As a result of the findings, approximately half of County Wicklow and the Cooley Peninsula in County Louth have been designated high radon areas.

Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas which is present in all soils and rocks. When it surfaces into the open air, it dilutes quickly and harmlessly. But problems arise when it enters an enclosed space.

Prolonged exposure to radon gas can cause lung cancer.

In the first phase of the study, the Radiological Protection Institute tested 700 homes throughout Cavan, Dublin, Louth, Monaghan and Wicklow.

The highest concentration of radon was in a house in County Wicklow.

Dr Ann McGarry recommends that people living in Wicklow and Louth have their houses measured for radon. The test costs £15 and preventative treatment costs about £1,000.

Minister for State at the Department of Energy Emmet Stagg said that he has asked for financial assistance for those affected.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 20 November 1996. The reporter is Anne Marie Smyth.