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Honey as an indicator of heavy metal contamination

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1/03/1987
<mark>Journal</mark>Water, Air, and Soil Pollution
Issue number1-2
Number of pages11
Pages (from-to)179-189
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


The potential use of honey as an indicator in mineral prospecting and environmental contamination studies has been investigated. Silver, Cd, Cu, and Pb levels are reported in honeys collected throughout the U.K. The elemental content of honeys was investigated in relation to that in the soils collected from within the foraging area. For samples collected over two seasons the following concentrations were found Ag <0.1 to 6.5 ng g-1 (d.w.); Cd <0.3 to 300 ng g-1; Cu 35 to 6510 ng g-1; Pb <2 to 200 ng g-1. Considerable spatial and seasonal fluctuations were apparent. No correlations were observed between honey and soil concentrations for either Cu or Pb. It is concluded that the low concentrations of heavy metals in honey and their inherent variability (due to differences in floral source, foraging range, entrapment of atmospheric particulates on the flower, etc.) detract from the reliable use of honey as a monitoring tool. The relative merits of honeybees, pollen and beeswax for environmental monitoring or biogeochemical prospecting studies are also briefly discussed.