Environmental Monitoring and Assessment

, Volume 69, Issue 3, pp 267–282 | Cite as

Honeybees and Their Products as Potential Bioindicators of Heavy Metals Contamination

  • Marcelo Enrique ContiEmail author
  • Francesco Botrè


The concentrations of three representative heavy metals(cadmium, chromium and lead) were measured by atomic absorptionspectroscopy in honeybees and in apiary's products (honey,pollen, propolis, and wax). Samples were collected from fivedifferent sampling points: four from areas surrounding the cityof Rome, and the fifth in the city center which receives intensevehicular traffic. All apiaries employed for this study werespecifically constructed without any metal part in order toavoid the risk of contamination of the assayed materials.Sample collection was conducted over a 3-month period (6samplings for honey and pollen, 3 sampling for propolis and wax,2 samplings for honeybees, all of which were collected in duplicate). Experimental data revealed, in general,statistically significant differences between the backgroundlevels of heavy metals recorded from the reference sites and thelevels measured in the site located in the center of the city ofRome.These results indicate that honeybees and, to a lesser extent,some of their products (pollen, propolis, wax, but not honey),can be considered representative bioindicators of environmentalpollution.

apiary products biomonitoring heavy metals honeybees 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dipartimento di Controllo e Gestione dell Merci e del loro Impatto sull'AmbienteUniversità `La Sapienza'RomaItaly
  2. 2.Dipartimento di Controllo e Gestione dell Merci e del loro Impatto sull'AmbienteUniversità `La Sapienza'RomaItaly

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