Canadian Journal of Public Health

, Volume 93, Supplement 1, pp S39–S44 | Cite as

Environmental Health Surveillance: Indicators for Freshwater Ecosystems

  • Robert D. MorrisEmail author
  • Donald Cole


The relationship between the health of human populations and the state of the ecosystems in which they live is profoundly complex. As most environmental indicators relevant to human health depend on evidence of a direct cause and effect relationship, there are few indicators of the less direct consequences of environmental degradation on human health. Indicators of the direct consequence of contaminants in freshwater ecosystems on human health are highlighted in this paper and candidate indicators for environmental health are provided. Many of the indicators included here are from the State Of the Lakes Ecosystem Conference (SOLEC) program. SOLEC conferences in the past (1994 and 1996) examined the state of various components of the ecosystem through the use of ad hoc indicators, and provided subjective assessments of certain environmental conditions. At SOLEC 98, a comprehensive suite of 80 Great Lakes ecosystem health indicators was presented for review, refinement and acceptance. Candidate indicators for freshwater systems and environmental health presented here are organized following the “Pressure-State-Response” framework and cover the areas of drinking water, recreational water, freshwater food sources, and the availability of freshwater for economic activities.


La relation entre la santé des populations humaines et l’état des écosystèmes où elles vivent est très complexe. Même si la plupart des indicateurs environnementaux liés à la santé humaine dépendent de la démonstration d’une relation directe de cause à effet, il existe néanmoins quelques indicateurs des conséquences moins directes de la dégradation de l’environnement sur la santé humaine. Les auteurs traitent des indicateurs des effets directs des contaminants dans les écosystèmes d’eau douce sur la santé humaine et proposent des indicateurs d’intérêt potentiel pour l’hygiène de l’environnement. Nombre de ces indicateurs sont tirés du programme de la Conférence sur l’état des écosystèmes lacustres (CEEL). Les conférences CEEL de 1994 et 1996 ont porté sur l’état de diverses composantes des écosystèmes à partir d’indicateurs ad hoc et ont fourni des évaluations subjectives de certaines conditions environnementales. Lors de la CEEL 1998, on a présenté une série exhaustive de 80 indicateurs de l’état de l’écosystème des Grands Lacs en vue de les examiner, les raffiner et les approuver. Les indicateurs potentiels pour les écosystèmes d’eau douce et l’hygiène de l’environnement présentés dans cet article sont organisés d’après le cadre Pression-État-Réaction et couvrent les secteurs de l’eau potable, des eaux utilisées à des fins récréatives, des sources de nourriture en eau douce et de la disponibilité de l’eau douce pour des activités économiques.


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Copyright information

© The Canadian Public Health Association 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of MedicineTufts UniversityBostonUSA
  2. 2.Faculty of MedicineUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada

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