Environmental Contaminant Monitoring

The Environmental Objectives Council (Miljömålsrådet) at the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency has given the Contaminant Research Group at the Swedish Museum of Natural History the responsibility for national environmental contaminant monitoring.

Contaminant Monitoring Programmes require samples from different sites in the country to be collected annually for chemical analysis. Reports on the state of the environment, the assessment of time-trends and the spatial variation of contaminants on land, in lakes, at sea and in the coastal waters of Sweden are submitted annually. The location of the sites and the types of material collected are shown on the maps and tables on separate pages under each subprogram.

Read more about the aims of the Environmental Objectives, which are adopted by the Parliament, at the web pages of the  Environmental Objectives Council:
Environmental Objectivesexternal link, opens in new window
Reindeers in Lapland
Reindeers in Lapland
Photo: Maria Molnar-Veress

The aim of the monitoring​

The aim of the national monitoring of contaminants is to describe the state of the environment, estimate the threat of increased levels of contaminants in a local, regional and global perspective, and to archive current information about the pollution status in relation to earlier situations. The results form the basis on which the authorities decide on national aims, priorities and what measures must be taken to combat pollution. The data obtained by monitoring are also used to follow up and visualise the effects of measures already taken.

The results of the biological and chemical analyses of organisms collected in sites outside polluted areas (reference sites) are used to make time-trend studies of the concentrations of other substances, thus enabling authorities, institutions and society as a whole to form a picture of the current status of pollution in the country on a long-term perspective.

The work is part of the National Swedish Monitoring Programme, financed by the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, and done in collaboration with institutions for chemical analyses. Samples of tissues and organs are prepared and stored permanentely in the Environmental Specimen Bank at the Swedish Museum of Natural History.

The contaminant monitoring program is divided in three subprogrammes:

Contaminant monitoring of coastal waters and seas
Contaminant monitoring of lakes and rivers
Contaminant monitoring of forests, agricultural land and mountain areas

Each subprogramme has the following aims:

  • To assess the degree of pollution on a number of national reference sites
  • To use the analytical data to make comparisons and estimates in local and regional monitoring, etc.
  • To detect long-term changes in background levels on the reference sites
  • To reveal occasional incidents with a wide geographical spread
  • To use the results to estimate the effect of variations in exposure to toxic substances as part of the risk-evaluation for man and animals.

More information about monitoring of the environment can be obtained:
Swedish Environmental Protection Agencyexternal link, opens in new window