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Environmental contaminants of honeybee products in Uganda detected using LC-MS/MS and GC-ECD

  • Amulen, Deborah Ruth
  • Spanoghe, Pieter
  • Houbraken, Michael
  • Tamale, Andrew
  • de Graaf, Dirk
  • Cross, Paul
  • Smagghe, Guy
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2017
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0178546
Ghent University Institutional Archive
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Pollinator services and the development of beekeeping as a poverty alleviating tool have gained considerable focus in recent years in sub-Saharan Africa. An improved understanding of the pervasive environmental extent of agro-chemical contaminants is critical to the success of beekeeping development and the production of clean hive products. This study developed and validated a multi-residue method for screening 36 pesticides in honeybees, honey and beeswax using LC-MS/MS and GC-ECD. Of the 36 screened pesticides, 20 were detected. The highest frequencies occurred in beeswax and in samples from apiaries located in the proximity of citrus and tobacco farms. Fungicides were the most prevalent chemical class. Detected insecticides included neonicotinoids, organophosphates, carbamates, organophosphorus, tetrazines and diacylhydrazines. All detected pesticide levels were below maximum residue limits (according to EU regulations) and the lethal doses known for honeybees. However, future risk assessment is needed to determine the health effects on the African genotype of honeybees by these pesticide classes and combinations of these. In conclusion, our data present a significant challenge to the burgeoning organic honey sector in Uganda, but to achieve this, there is an urgent need to regulate the contact routes of pesticides into the beehive products. Interestingly, the "zero" detection rate of pesticides in the Mid-Northern zone is a significant indicator of the large potential to promote Ugandan organic honey for the export market.

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