Polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and dibenzofurans in the air of Seveso, Italy, 26 years after the explosion

Elena Fattore, Antonio Di Guardo, Giulio Mariani, Andrea Guzzi, Emilio Benfenati, Roberto Fanelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study reports the current levels of polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins (PCDDs) and furans (PCDFs) in air at Seveso, where an explosion in a 2,4,5,-trichlorophenol production reactor occurred 26 years ago. The aims were to assess if residues of the 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (2,3,7,8-TCDD) released during the accident and still present in soil could contaminate the above air and to investigate other potential sources in the area. Long-term air collection was carried out in zones A and B in Seveso and in a reference location in Milan, and samples were analyzed for PCDD and PCDF concentrations by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS). Experimental results showed that no important contribution to the air concentrations is due to the soil contamination and that contemporary sources essentially control the atmospheric burden of PCDDs and PCDFs in the Seveso area. The theoretical release of 2,3,7,8-TCDD from the soils of zones A and B of Seveso was calculated using the SoilFug model. In the worst case, the model simulated an enrichment in atmospheric 2,3,7,8-TCDD concentrations of 4 and 22% for zones A and B, respectively. The investigation of the potential emission sources in the area indicated that combustion of wood residues from furniture factories may be an additional local source of PCDDs and PCDFs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1503-1508
Number of pages6
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Apr 15 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Environmental Engineering


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