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Monitoring of cesium-137 and strontium-90 in consumption milk is a sub-programme of a national monitoring program regarding environmental radiation in Sweden. The sub-programme has been ongoing since 1955. In the event of increased deposition of radionuclides, e.g. after a nuclear accident, transfer to cow milk is a quick process. The concentration in milk is therefore a good indicator of any changes of the levels of radionuclides in the area. Monitoring is performed at 5 dairies: Umeå, Sundsvall, Kallhäll, Jönköping and Malmö, where milk is sampled 4 times per year.
Statistics Sweden has all relevant data related to population size, age structure, gender, births, deaths, and migration. The same types of data are collected for the whole country and are standardized for administrative units. Since the population data also contain the geographical coordinates for the place where each person lives, it is also possible to present the statistics for arbitrary geographical units. However, the official population and health statistics do not contain any information concerning which persons belong to the indigenous / non-indigenous population. In Sweden, this would be of relevance for studies of living conditions among the Sámi population. However, such studies have been conducted only in very specialized research projects based on the researcher’s own data collection and carried out in agreement with the Sámi people. Statistics Sweden reports on how many individuals enter and complete different levels of education. The statistics can be separated by geographic area. Statistics Sweden has data on unemployment and the distribution of incomes in different regions. Main gaps: No official statistics are easily available about the use of languages or about religious practices in general. For individuals with a foreign background, the country of birth, citizenship, and year of immigration to Sweden are registered. However, the official statistics do not separate the native indigenous from the non-indigenous population. Although the Sámi languages are officially acknowledged as minority languages, the trends concerning the number of people that speak and use them is not systematically monitored.
The Swedish Radiation Safety Authority (SSM) has 32 measurement stations distributed across Sweden, of which 16 are situated north of 60°N (Table 6, #6.1). They mainly measure radiation from radioactive compounds on the soil surface and automatically sound the alarm if the radiation increases. Every seventh month, radioactivity is measured on the soil surface at 4 to 5 spots in every municipality to check eventual radiation changes and to retain knowledge at an acceptable level (Table 6, #6.2). Special programs monitor 137Cs in humans (whole body), reindeer, fish, moose, and roe deer (Table 6, #6.3). The main incentive for this is the remains from the Chernobyl accident in 1986.
Estimates of human intake of environmental pollutions via food and drinking water are performed in cooperation with the National Food Administration (Table 4, #9.4). During 2006 an estimation of children’s intake of dioxin was finalized. The concentration of pollutants in groundwater wells is studied in cooperation with SGU and the National Board of Health and Welfare.
One focus of SEPA’s subprogram for human biological data concerns metals in human bodies (Table 4, #9.1). It includes studies on lead concentration in human blood, mercury in hair, and cadmium concentration in urine. Old hair samples have been collected and analyzed for mercury. Methyl mercury may damage the central nervous system, and at the fetal stage effects may occur already after low exposure. A study in Uppsala is investigating persistent organic compounds in breast milk. Concurrently, the young mothers answer a questionnaire, and hair samples are collected to analyze methyl mercury. Cadmium in urine is an indicator of the load on kidneys, and especially women with low iron storage have an elevated risk for increased cadmium uptake. A program on cadmium in women that started in Gothenburg, then expanded to Stockholm, Lund, and Umeå is under way. In 2007, a second round started in Gothenburg. A questionnaire is filled in concurrently with collection of a urine sample.
Organic compounds, especially persistent organic pollutants (POP), are of special interest and are included in one of SEPA’s subprograms (Table 4, #9.2). The subprogram includes different groups in the population. On military enlistment, young men are tested for persistent organic compounds in the body. Mercury content is measured in high consumers of fish, and the concentration of flame retardants is measured in samples of breast milk from women who breast-feed. The National Food Administration stores important data from control of pesticides in vegetables, where more than 2 000 samples are taken per year and residues from more than 200 different pesticides are analyzed. To date, no data have been analyzed and reported from this material, but it will be done in the first phase of this SEPA subprogram. Sampling of breast milk will continue with the intent to monitor organic environmental pollutants. Already existing is a long time series on the concentration of flame retardants and PCB in breast milk. Concurrently, samples will be transferred to the environmental sample bank at the Swedish Museum of Natural History (NRM), which means that samples will be available for comparison in the future.
Studies of human exposure to cancer-inducing air pollutants (Table 4, #9.3) are being conducted in Gothenburg, Umeå, Stockholm, and other sites. The importance of smoking habits, traffic, and other potential sources will be determined for a better risk evaluation. Measurements will be conducted according to a rolling schedule, with one city at a time and a group of 40 randomly chosen people, 20 to 50 years of age. The background concentrations in air will be followed at the same time. Exposure to nitrogen dioxide is particularly severe during winter. An estimate of the number of people exposed to nitrogen dioxide concentrations in excess of current limits is performed every fifth year. An improved method of calculation, i.e. the urban model, has been used since winter 2006/2007. The urban model will also be used to calculate the number of people that are overexposed to particles.