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Seveso disaster

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The Seveso disaster was a chemical accident on 10 July 1976, at the small Italian town of Meda, 20 km from Milan in Lombardy. There was an explosion at a chemical factory which released a lot of the toxic poison dioxin, TCDD, into the air.[1] The cloud of poison gas covered an area 6 km long and 1 km wide. It was named after the municipality of Seveso.[1] It resulted in the highest known exposure to 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) in residential populations [2] There were many studies and new regulations after the accident. The European Union directive covering the protection against such accidents is known as Seveso-II-directive today.

The company where the accident happened was called Icmesa. It was owned by Givaudan, who is owned by Roche. Icmesa produced Trichlorophenol, which is used to produce the disinfectant Hexachlorophene. The company was located in four communes; one of them Seveso.

None of the 20,000 people who lived in Seveso died, but the poison killed 3,000 farm animals and pets. Another 70,000 animals had to be killed to stop the dioxin from getting into the food chain.

Long term problems

Thirty years after the accident, scientists reported that babies born in the area affected by the dioxin were six times more likely to have thyroid problems.[3] The affected children are being studied to see if this has stopped them growing properly, or having problems with intellectual development (IQ).


  1. 1.0 1.1 "4 Seveso: A paradoxical classic disaster". Retrieved 2009-05-23.
  2. Brenda Eskenazi; Paolo Mocarelli, Marcella Warner, Larry Needham, Donald G. Patterson, Jr., Steven Samuels, Wayman Turner, Pier Mario Gerthoux, and Paolo Brambilla (January). "Relationship of Serum TCDD Concentrations and Age at Exposure of Female Residents of Seveso, Italy". Environmental Health Perspectives 112 (1).
  3. "Long-lasting effects of the Seveso disaster on thyroid function in babies". Retrieved 2009-05-23.