The incorporation of environmental surveillance in the field of public health policies is a relatively recent demand in Brazil. One of the major challenges in environmental health surveillance is defining its object and the specificity of its practice. The expanded concept of exposure, treated as a set of complex relations between a society and the environment, and not as a personal attribute, is central to the definition of indicators and should guide the practice of environmental surveillance in the health sector. Among the difficulties encountered in applying this concept within the Brazilian Health System, is the need to restructure health surveillance activities and to form multidisciplinary teams capable of dialoguing with other sectors. Furthermore, information systems capable of aiding in health situation analysis and decision making must be constructed. Taking this into consideration, a review of the object and concepts of environmental health surveillance was undertaken and the challenges with respect to its implementation in the Brazilian Health System were identified.
Environmental surveillance; Environmental exposure; Health surveillance; Sanitation; SUS (BR)