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European Journal of Cancer Prevention:
doi: 10.1097/01.cej.0000228396.32913.99
Research papers: Environment

Adverse health indicators correlating with sparsely populated areas in Sweden

Hallberg, Örjan

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Abstract

Earlier studies on health characteristics in Sweden have pointed at a sudden trend change in general health indicators around 1997. The decline was worse in areas with less estimated coverage by the mobile phone system; that is, areas where the average output power from mobile phone handsets is expected to be higher. In this study, health parameters were related to the population density, which is a well defined, rather than an estimated variable. Statistics were obtained from different authorities in Sweden. Data were correlated to the population densities in the 21 different counties of Sweden as well as to estimates of average mobile phone output power. Several health quality measures showed that people in sparsely populated counties in Sweden (as well as in Denmark and Norway) have suffered more illness, and lengthier recovery than people in more densely populated areas since 1997. This is in strong contrast to the situation 20 years ago, when the countryside was the healthiest place in which to live. The indicators strongly correlated with estimated mobile phone area coverage and estimated power output. The indicator statistics suggest that the decline in health in Sweden is not a primary consequence of low population density by itself, but that other factors related to population density are causative. The two factors having the strongest correlation with decreased health quality were the estimated average power output from mobile phones (positive correlation) and the reported coverage from the global system for mobile communication base stations (negative correlation) in each county.

© 2007 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.

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