Animals as sentinels of human health hazards of environmental chemicals

William H. Van Der Schalie, Hank S. Gardner, John A. Bantle, Chris T. De Rosa, Robert A. Finch, John S. Reif, Roy H. Reuter, Lorraine C. Backer, Joanna Burger, Leroy C. Folmar, William S. Stokes

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

143 Scopus citations


A workshop titled 'Using Sentinel Species Data to Address the Potential Human Health Effects of Chemicals in the Environment,' sponsored by the U.S. Army Center for Environmental Health Research, the National Center for Environmental Assessment of the EPA, and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, was held to consider the use of sentinel and surrogate animal species data for evaluating the potential human health effects of chemicals in the environment. The workshop took a broad view of the sentinel species concept, and included mammalian and non-mammalian species, companion animals, food animals, fish, amphibians, and other wildlife. Sentinel species data included observations of wild animals in field situations as well as experimental animal data. Workshop participants identified potential applications for sentinel species data derived from monitoring programs or serendipitous observations and explored the potential use of such information in human health hazard and risk assessments and for evaluating causes or mechanisms of effect. Although it is unlikely that sentinel species data will be used as the sole determinative factor in evaluating human health concerns, such data can be useful as for additional weight of evidence in a risk assessment, for providing early warning of situations requiring further study, or for monitoring the course of remedial activities. Attention was given to the factors impeding the application of sentinel species approaches and their acceptance in the scientific and regulatory communities. Workshop participants identified a number of critical research needs and opportunities for interagency collaboration that could help advance the use of sentinel species approaches.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)309-315
Number of pages7
JournalEnvironmental health perspectives
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1999

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


  • Environmental chemicals
  • Health hazards
  • Public health
  • Risk assessment
  • Sentinel species


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