ABSTRACT

This study investigated the levels of lead, selenium, arsenic, iron, manganese, copper, zinc, chromium, cadmium, and nickel in honey and their potential health risks to consumers, using standard protocols. The honey samples were obtained from apiary farms at nine different locations in southeast Nigeria. They were digested at optimal conditions and analyzed using a flame atomic absorption spectrophotometer. Levels of the studied elements in the honey were found to vary relative to the sample source; however, all were below European Commission maximum permissible limits, with the exception of lead, whose level in some samples exceeded the recommended set limit. Estimated daily intakes of the elements via ingestion of the honey were all below the maximum permissible limit set by the European Food Safety Authority, with the exception of arsenic, whose values in some samples slightly exceeded the set limit. For all samples, estimated health risk values for the elements quantified were higher in children than in adults. The hazard quotient for arsenic, hence, the hazard index for the elements, indicated a significant risk (>1) for children for some of the honey samples studied. Arsenic was the major contributor to incremental lifetime cancer risk; its estimated value for children in all the honey samples exceeded the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) threshold limit (>1.0 × 10−4); hence, the total cancer risk values for the carcinogenic elements indicated an absolute unacceptable risk level for children based on EPA threshold limit.

HIGHLIGHTS
  • Elements found in the honey varied; they were below the safety limit, except for lead.

  • The HQ value for arsenic in honey from some farms was >1 for children.

  • The HI value, due mainly to As and Se, was >1 for children, indicating high risk.

  • TCR values in honey, due mainly to As, exceeded the safety limit for children.

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