Surveillance in environmental public health: issues, systems, and sources

Am J Public Health. 1996 May;86(5):633-8. doi: 10.2105/ajph.86.5.633.


This article describes environmental public health surveillance and proposes a framework to enhance its practice in the United States. Special issues for surveillance in environmental public health are examined, and examples of existing systems useful for environmental public health practice are provided. Current and projected surveillance needs, as well as potential sources of data, are examined. The proposed framework for conducting environmental public health surveillance involves data from three points in the process by which an agent in the environment produces an adverse outcome in a host: hazards, exposures, and outcomes. Environmental health practitioners should build on efforts in other fields (e.g., infectious diseases and occupational health) to establish priorities in the surveillance of health conditions associated with exposure to environmental toxicants. For specific surveillance programs, existing data systems, as well as data gaps, should be identified. Coordinated surveillance systems can facilitate public health efforts to prevent and control disease, injury, and disability related to the interaction between people and their environment.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Environmental Exposure
  • Environmental Health*
  • Epidemiologic Methods
  • Health Policy
  • Humans
  • Population Surveillance / methods*
  • Public Health / trends
  • United States