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Lead Contamination Found in Bees and Their Honey

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A new study published in Environmental Science & Technology is the first Australian research of its kind to trace the source of contaminating metals, including lead, in honey bees and their products.

Researchers from Macquarie University used an isotopic source-tracing method to analyse metal contaminants in soil and dust from Sydney and Broken Hill, and compared the results in bees as well as their honey and wax.

“The results were unequivocal. They showed clearly the different sources and origins of lead across the study areas,” said Prof Mark Taylor. “The lead isotopes showed that honey bees… from Sydney and Broken Hill were clearly contaminated by legacy petrol sources and ongoing mining emissions, respectively.”

The study found that bees located in inner-city regions of Sydney fared worse than those in other areas, with bees in the CBD, Surry Hills and Newtown possessing 230–440 µg/kg of lead. The coastal residential suburbs of Coogee and Randwick fared better, with their bees only possessing an average of 125 and 146 µg/kg of lead, respectively.

“The suburbs with the lowest lead levels measured in their bees were Galston and Gordon, with 50 and 56 µg/kg respectively, which is likely due to the fact that these suburbs are both located near national parks with less legacy contamination from traffic pollution and human activities nearby,”...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.