Following a major environmental accident near Seveso, Italy, on July 10, 1976, we attempted to determine if the 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) released into the atmosphere had any effect on the liver function and lipid metabolism of exposed children. From July 1976 to June 1982, we analyzed the results of more than 4500 laboratory tests (alanine aminotransferase, aspartate aminotransferase, γ-glutamyltransferase, alkaline phosphatase, cholesterol, and triglycerides in plasma and δ-aminolevulinic acid in urine) in a population of about 1500 children aged 6 to 10 years at the moment of the accident. The children exposed to the highest concentration of TCDD showed alterations in serum γ-glutamyltransferase and alanine aminotransferase activity compared with the control group. These differences were restricted to values inside limits set from the lower end of the normal range to slightly above it. The observed abnormalities were slight and disappeared with time.
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