Seveso Women's Health Study: Does zone of residence predict individual TCCD exposure?

Brenda Eskenazi, Paolo Mocarelli, Marcella Warner, Steven Samuels, Larry Needham, Donald Patterson, Paolo Brambilla, Pier Mario Gerthoux, Wayman Turner, Stefania Casalini, Mariangela Cazzaniga, Wan Ying Chee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


The compound, 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD), is produced as an unwanted by-product of various chemical reactions and combustion processes, including the manufacture of chlorinated phenols and derivatives. In animals, TCDD exposure is associated with toxic, carcinogenic, developmental, and reproductive effects. In 1976, a chemical plant explosion in Seveso, Italy, exposed the residents in the surrounding community to the highest exposure to TCDD known in humans. Materials from an aerosol cloud of sodium hydroxide, sodium trichlorophenate and TCDD were deposited over an 18.1 km2 area. As evidence of the significant level of TCDD exposure, numerous animals died and 193 cases of chloracne were reported among residents of the area. Initially, the contaminated area was divided into three major exposure Zones (A, B, R) based on the concentration of TCDD in surface soils. To date, the majority of epidemiologic studies conducted in Seveso have used Zone of residence as a proxy measure of exposure. The purpose of the present study is to validate the use of Zone of residence in Seveso as a proxy measure of exposure against individual serum TCDD measurement, and to determine whether questionnaire information can improve the accuracy of the exposure classification. Using data collected from the Seveso Women's Health Study (SWHS), the first comprehensive epidemiologic study of the reproductive health of women in Seveso, we determined that Zone of residence is a good predictor of individual serum TCDD level, explaining 24% of the variance. Using questionnaire information could have improved prediction of individual exposure levels in Seveso, increasing the percent of the variation in serum TCDD levels explained to 42%.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)937-942
Number of pages6
Issue number4-7
StatePublished - 2001

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Engineering
  • General Chemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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