Biomonitoring, or biosurveillance, is the detection of pollutants in an environment by their effects on organisms and ecosystems.
This indirect method for assessing pollution and therefore the quality of an environment, is based on a concept summed up by Tingey: "There is no better indicator for the state of a species or a system, than that species or system itself".
Biomonitoring is therefore based on the use of bio-indicators (lichen, moss, insects, etc.) that provide information on the state of their environment as well as the incidence of the accumulation of pollutants on organisms and ecosystems. The space-time distribution of the organisms under study can also be controlled.
For example, observing heavy metals deposits from the air in the moss of a city is a passive method. In contrast, observing the biochemical and physiological effects of tropospheric ozone on the sensitive genotypes of white clover imported from an area without ozone is an active method.
Biomonitoring system for human blood, saliva and urine samples. © PNNL - Pacific Northwest National Laboratory CC by-nc-sa 2.0