Sandoval H. Vigilancia epidemiológica de la contaminación química del ambiente. [Epidemiological surveillance of environmental chemical contamination.] Salud y Cambio [Health and Change] ( Santiago , Chile ) 1992; 3(8):36-43.

Objectives: To define a system for continued epidemiological surveillance of environmental contamination, taking into account three fundamental points: 1) the presence of chemical contaminants in the human environment, 2) the possibility that these contaminants may be absorbed by the human body, and 3) the possibility that contaminants so absorbed may have effects on the health of individuals.

Methodology: Analytical.

Results: Epidemiological surveillance of environmental chemical contamination involves two components: environmental surveillance and biological surveillance. The two are complementary and aim ultimately to prevent diseases arising from contamination by chemical substances. To achieve this objective, it is necessary to develop programs that systematically disclose: 1) the concentration of contaminants in surroundings or media that permit them to invade air, water, food, or soil; 2) the concentration of these same contaminants in the biological milieu of people exposed to them; and 3) biochemical changes or symptoms that can indicate compromised health at a pre-clinical, reversible stage.

Conclusions: Chemical contamination of the environment results not from the incorrect use of productive processes, but instead from their normal use. This phenomenon must remain a daily concern of the health services and an integral part of their work.

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