CHEMISTRY, MAN AND ENVIRONMENTAuthor: A. Ballarin-Denti , Lombardy Foundation for the Environment, University of Milan, Italy P.A. Bertazzi , Institute of Occupational Health, University of Milan, Italy S. Facchetti , Environment Institute, European Community, JRC, Ispra, Italy R. Fanelli , Pharmacological Research Institute ”Mario Negri”, Milan, Italy P. Mocarelli , Department of Clinical Pathology, University of Milan, Italy
Publish date: september 1999
The dioxin accident which occurred at the ICMESA chemical plant in the Seveso area of Milan, Italy, in July 1976, has had far-reaching consequences in fields ranging from politics and legislation, to scientific research. Twenty years after the accident, the Regione Lombardia and Fondazione Lombardia per l'Ambiente organised the meeting ”Chemistry, Man and Environment” to assess the current situation in Seveso, and to assemble the latest scientific research achievements in the field. The meeting was attended by the main institutional and technical representatives who had played a key role during the emergency at Seveso and thereafter. Representatives of the Ministry of the Environment , the Regione Lombardia Assessorate for Energy and Environment , the Regional Forest Agency, the PMIP USL 38 and La Sapienza University (Rome) gave a twenty-year historical overview of the administrative and technical measures which led from the emergency to a more normal situation for the population and the environment. The most recent research data related to Seveso were presented by researchers from the Universities of Milano and Pavia , the Joint Research Centre in Ispra, the ”Mario Negri” Institute for Pharmacological Research in Milano and the Desio (Milano) Hospital . Major issues addressed involved measurements of the current environmental concentrations of 2,3,7,8-TCDD in different compartments (atmosphere, soil, flora, fauna and food) at Seveso and recent epidemiological data concerning the population originally exposed to dioxin and still under study. Other research results were presented by scientists of institutions from many countries such as the Linköping University Hospital (Sweden), the National Cancer Institute , Bethesda (MD, USA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , Atlanta (GA, USA), the Free Universität , Berlin (Germany) and the Environmental Protection Office (Bitterfield, Saxony Anhaly, Germany). These contributions covered different issues in dioxin research, reviewing or presenting new information on: (1) the origin, presence and movement of these compounds in the environment, (2) the mechanism of toxic action including new end-points for risk assessment, (3) the use of molecular epidemiology techniques, and (4) reports on other cases of large-scale dioxin environmental pollution. This Symposium, which brought together experts in different disciplines to discuss the problem, has clearly shown that an extensive worldwide research effort, with the appropriate technical, legislative and administrative improvements, produces worthwhile results.