More than 20 pesticides have been detected in the honey of bees at an agricultural research site in New South Wales.
Key points:More than a third of all honey samples analysed at a research site had detectable levels of the chemicals found in the pesticides used to kill beesThe chemicals can cause damage to bees and other pollinatorsDr Tim Daley says the findings highlight the need for more stringent testing standards in AustraliaThe research has been carried out at a field site at Tuggeranong in northern New South the state’s south-west.
It was published in the latest issue of the journal of the Royal Society of Chemistry.
More than 3,500 samples of honey were analysed at the research site.
The research found most of the samples were contaminated with high levels of a chemical known as bisphenol A (BPA), which is found in plastics, fabrics and other materials used in products such as paints and plastics.BPA is a known human carcinogen, with up to three million people in the US and more than 40 million people worldwide being exposed at some point in their lives to BPA.
The levels found in all the samples analysed were “well above the safe level for human consumption” and “causing damage to the health of bees”, Dr Daley said.
The chemicals are also known to damage bee health and can cause long-term damage to their reproductive and behavioural abilities, he said.”BPA can damage bees’ ability to build their own honey, causing problems such as damage to queens and the emergence of colonies of parasites.”BPA was identified as a human carcinogenic by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2014.
The researchers found that in some cases, the BPA levels in the samples could have exceeded levels recommended for human use.
In the majority of the bee samples analysed, BPA was detectable at levels that were higher than the levels found to be harmful in humans, the researchers said.
More testing is needed to confirm whether these levels are safe, Dr Dally said.
Dr Daley’s research was funded by the New South Welsh Government.
The New South West Regional Research Facility (NSWRF) was set up in 2007 to help researchers improve the way research is conducted.
In a statement the NSWRF said:The NSWRFs Research Facility provides a high quality research facility with state-of-the-art equipment and support for researchers to conduct field work, develop new analytical methods and to test and measure biological products.
The facility was established to be a global centre for the management of BPA, a toxic substance which is present in a wide range of consumer products, including paint, plastic, paper, plastics and other natural materials.
The facilities research and development program is one of the largest in the world, with more than 1,000 researchers employed at its facilities across the country.