According to a report issued by the National Research Council* , “Sentinel systems can be designed to reveal environmental contamination, to monitor contamination of the food web, or to investigate the bioavailability of contaminants from environmental media; these types of systems can be designed to facilitate assessment of human exposure to environmental contaminants. Other sentinel systems can be designed to facilitate assessment of health hazards resulting from such exposure: e.g., systems can be designed to provide early warning of human health risks or can involve deliberate placement of sentinel animals at a selected site to permit measurement of environmental health hazards.”
*National Research Council. 1991. Animals as Sentinels of Environmental Health Hazards. Committee on Animals as Monitors of Environmental Hazards, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C.