Skip to Content
Discovering the causes of cancer and the means of prevention

Publications Search - Abstract View

Title: 2,3,7,8-Tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin plasma levels in Seveso 20 years after the accident.
Authors: Landi MT,  Consonni D,  Patterson DG Jr,  Needham LL,  Lucier G,  Brambilla P,  Cazzaniga MA,  Mocarelli P,  Pesatori AC,  Bertazzi PA,  Caporaso NE
Journal: Environ Health Perspect
Date: 1998 May
Branches: ITEB, OEEB
PubMed ID: 9520360
PMC ID: PMC1533109
Abstract: In 1976, near Seveso, Italy, an industrial accident caused the release of large quantities of 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) into the atmosphere, resulting in the highest levels of the toxicant ever recorded in humans. The contaminated area was divided into three zones (A, B, R) corresponding to decreasing TCDD levels in soil, and cohort including all residents was enumerated. The population of the surrounding noncontaminated area (non-ABR) was chosen as referent population. Two decades after the accident. plasma TCDD levels were measured in 62 subjects randomly sampled from the highest exposed zones (A and B) and 59 subjects from non-ABR, frequency matched for age, gender, and cigarette smoking status. Subjects living in the exposed areas have persistently elevated plasma TCDD levels (range = 1.2-89.9 ppt; geometric mean = 53.2 and 11.0 ppt for Zone A and Zone B, respectively). Levels significantly decrease by distance from the accident site (p = 0.0001), down to general population values (4.9 ppt) in non-ABR, thus validating the original zone classification based on environmental measurements. Women have higher TCDD levels than men in the entire study area (p = 0.0003 in Zone B; p = 0.007 in non-ABR). This gender difference persists after adjustment for location within the zone, consumption of meat derived from locally raised animals, age, body mass index, and smoking. There is no evidence for a gender difference in exposure, so variation in metabolism or elimination due to body fat or hormone-related factors may explain this finding. Elevated TCDD levels in women may contribute to adverse reproductive, developmental, and cancer outcomes.