State of the art and advances in the impact assessment of dioxins and dioxin-like compounds

  • Marco SchiavonEmail author
  • Vincenzo Torretta
  • Elena Cristina Rada
  • Marco Ragazzi


Polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins (PCDDs), polychlorinated dibenzofurans (PCDFs), and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are toxic and persistent organic pollutants that are able to enter the food chain, accumulate in the fat tissues of animals, and consequently pose a serious risk for human health. Consolidated tools for exposure assessment have been implemented during the last decades and widely used, both in the environmental monitoring and in modeling activities. Although the emissive trend and the concentrations in the environment have gradually decreased during the last 20 years, some situations are still underrated and not adequately controlled by the environmental legislation. On the other hand, a complete monitoring of all the pathways of exposure to PCDD/Fs and PCBs is technically and economically unfeasible. Therefore, this paper aims at providing an overview of the traditional approaches used to assess the impacts of PCDD/Fs and PCBs and presenting the novelties introduced during the last years. After an initial characterization of their toxicity and their effects on health, this paper focuses on activities and situations that can result in critical releases of PCDD/Fs and PCBs into the atmosphere and that can represent a hidden threat for the population. In the final part, this study presents the current methodologies for exposure assessment, summarizes the food chain models in a unified way, and puts the light on new methods that can help environmental scientists, risk assessors, and decision makers to estimate the risk related to exposure to PCDD/Fs in different contexts.


Polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins Polychlorinated dibenzofurans Polychlorinated biphenyls Persistent organic pollutants Exposure assessment Risk assessment 



The authors wish to thank Mr. Stefano Antognoni for the support to the preparation of the material for the present research.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marco Schiavon
    • 1
    Email author
  • Vincenzo Torretta
    • 2
  • Elena Cristina Rada
    • 1
    • 2
  • Marco Ragazzi
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Civil, Environmental and Mechanical EngineeringUniversity of TrentoTrentoItaly
  2. 2.Department of Biotechnologies and Life SciencesUniversity of InsubriaVareseItaly

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