The Seveso disaster was an industrial accident that occurred around 12:37 pm July 10, 1976, in a small chemical manufacturing plant approximately 15 km (9.3 mi) north of Milan in the Lombardy region in Italy. A chemical reactor exploded at the ICMESA plant located in Meda near Seveso, Italy. The plant was manufacturing 2,4,5-trichlorophenol, an intermediary for cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. A runaway chemical reaction resulted in the release of an aerosol cloud that included sodium hydroxide, ethylene glycol, sodium trichlorophenate, and an estimated 15 to 30 kg of TCDD over an 18-km2 area (Domenico, et al., 1980).
It resulted in the highest known exposure to 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) in residential populations which gave rise to numerous scientific studies and standardized industrial safety regulations. Dioxin is a known human carcinogen and potent endocrine disruptor. It is highly lipophilic and has a long half-life in humans. Much of what we know and can learn about the risks of dioxin exposure on human health arose from the tragic circumstances of Seveso (Eskenazi, et al., 2018).
Guide prepared by P. Zannetti (2/2021). For corrections or expansions please contact us.