Health effects of dioxin exposure: A 20-year mortality study

Pier Alberto Bertazzi, Dario Consonni, Silvia Bachetti, Maurizia Rubagotti, Andrea Baccarelli, Carlo Zocchetti, Angela C. Pesatori

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Follow-up of the population exposed to dioxin after the 1976 accident in Seveso, Italy, was extended to 1996. During the entire observation period, all-cause and all-cancer mortality did not increase. Fifteen years after the accident, mortality among men in high-exposure zones A (804 inhabitants) and B (5,941 inhabitants) increased from all cancers (rate ratio (RR) = 1.3, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.0, 1.7), rectal cancer (RR = 2.4, 95% Cl: 1.2, 4.6), and lung cancer (RR = 1.3, 95% Cl: 1.0, 1.7), with no latency-related pattern for rectal or lung cancer. An excess of lymphohemopoietic neoplasms was found in both genders (RR = 1.7, 95% Cl: 1.2, 2.5). Hodgkin's disease risk was elevated in the first 10-year observation period (RR = 4.9, 95% Cl: 1.5, 16.4), whereas the highest increase for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (RR = 2.8, 95% Cl: 1.1, 7.0) and myeloid leukemia (RR = 3.8, 95% Cl: 1.2, 12.5) occurred after 15 years. No soft tissue sarcoma cases were found in these zones (0.8 expected). An overall increase in diabetes was reported, notably among women (RR = 2.4, 95% Cl: 1.2, 4.6). Chronic circulatory and respiratory diseases were moderately increased, suggesting a link with accident-related stressors and chemical exposure. Results support evaluation of dioxin as carcinogenic to humans and corroborate the hypotheses of its association with other health outcomes, including cardiovascular- and endocrine-related effects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1031-1044
Number of pages14
JournalAmerican Journal of Epidemiology
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1 2001


  • Accidents
  • Carcinogens
  • Chemical industry
  • Dioxins
  • Environmental
  • Mortality
  • Occupational

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology


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