Human-dominated ecosystems and restoration ecology: Seveso today

S. Garagna, M. Zuccotti, M. L. Vecchi, P. G. Rubini, E. Capanna, C. A. Redi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Seveso is a town (40,000 inhabitants) 16 km north of Milan, which from 10 July 1976 became synonymous with the chemically induced ecological catastrophe because of the large number of people affected by dioxin exposure and of the large area involved. The most polluted area (about 43 ha) was artificially reconstructed and transformed into a wood composed mainly of oaks with some scattered green fields and some bushy areas, the Bosco delle Querce urban park. A four-year survey monitoring the present ecological and biological risk parameters of the artificially reconstructed ecosystem shows its full ecological recovery as an urban park. Plant and animal coenoses are well composed and the park has been colonized by annelids, insects, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals. All these animals are useful biological reagents for risk-assessment because of their potential long-term exposure to TCDD. When some of the endpoints of the xenoestrogen-like molecules' action were studied (i.e., gametogenesis and the gross morphology of genital organs in rabbits and house mice), no signs of TCDD effects were detected. Mutagenicity tests and the house mouse sperm DNA COMET assay do not reveal the presence of any biological risk. The study of the carabidocoenosis and the housefly cytogenetics corroborates this last indication, thus guaranteeing the successful ecological recovery of the formerly most polluted Seveso area.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)577-585
Number of pages9
Issue number4-7
Publication statusPublished - 2001


  • Dioxin
  • DNA
  • Risk assessment
  • Spermatozoa
  • TCDD

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Environmental Science(all)


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