Most of the work in the field of environmental health is carried out on the local level. Sweden has 290 municipalities, in the range from approximately 4,000 inhabitants to around 650,000 inhabitants. Every municipality has one (or sometimes a few) boards responsible for environmental health.
In recent years several neighboring municipalities, especially small ones, have started collaborating in municipal associations. This way of sharing competence and resources within the environmental health area is seen as a way to make it easier to keep up with the demands of the legislation.
On the regional level, the county administrative boards are responsible for the co-ordination of the work.
Finally, on the central level there are three primary responsible ministries, namely
- The Ministry of Health and Social affairs
- The Ministry of the Environment and
- The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries.
Under these ministries the work on the central level is divided between among others
- The National Board of Health and Welfare
- The Swedish Environmental protection Agency
- The National Food Administration
- The National chemicals Inspectorate
- The Swedish Board of Agriculture
- The National Institute of Public Health
- The National Board of Housing, Building and Planning
The scope of environmental health
In Sweden, environmental health normally includes a few topics that go beyond what is usual in many other countries.
Local Environmental Health Authorities responsibilities of supervision and correction lie within the fields of:
- Air, climate, ground and water protection and surveillance - Noise, both outdoors and indoors
- Indoor climate; radon (very often from the ground or the ground water), ventilation (where the outdoor air is an important factor), mould (wrong construction or building sites), radon etc
- Public places and beaches
- Industry of which small and mediumsized enterprises (SMEs) make up the big part and also cause many problems since they often are not clearly regulated.
- Farms both with and without live stock
- Waste management control incl hazardous waste - Waste water handling
- Drinking water
- Food safety, "from seed to feed" which means not only sanitary factors but also the production, distribution, handling and consumtion of food. The environmental impact from the food chain is today assessed as being one of the major areas we have to tackle.
- Pest control
- Nature protection
- Information and participation programs involving the citizens, enterprises and organisations (this usually being part of the local Agenda 21 implementation)
Legislation in Sweden
Since 1999, Sweden has an environmental code, spanning from Agenda 21 and sustainable development to hygiene on camping sites. It is based on 16 national environment and health objectives and also on general principles from the Rio conference, eg PPP, BAT and other international standards.
There are several educations thar can lead to a position as an EHP in Sweden. The most usual has been the four-year programme at Umeå University or Lund university. More information is found here