Honey as a Biomonitor for Air Pollutant Deposition in the Eastern United States using Ion Chromatography and Scanning Electron Microscopy
Date Thesis Awarded
Honors Thesis -- Open Access
Bachelors of Science (BS)
Anthropogenic activities generate metal, acid, and particulate air pollutants which negatively impact human and ecological health. In the United States, power plant, industrial, and vehicle emissions are leading causes of air pollution, however, the measurement of air pollution at high-resolution spatial regimes remains a challenge. Honey has emerged as a powerful biomonitoring tool to effectively quantify contaminants without the need for a large array of monitoring instruments. I hypothesized that honey could be used to effectively measure and map modern air pollutant spatiotemporal relationships over the Eastern U.S. Using ion chromatography with sulfate as an indicator for air pollution and chloride as a natural analog, I found sulfate concentrations of honey to range from 40.4 to 685.7 mg/L and chloride from 69.0 to 590.2 mg/L. These data were analyzed using ArcGIS Pro where I acquired spatial information on explanatory variables. Greater elevation and latitude are both correlated with higher sulfate deposition in the eastern U.S. (p=.0201 and p=.0663 respectively). The spatial trend in chloride was consistent with National Atmospheric Deposition Program (NADP) monitoring stations and followed expected sea salt-derived chloride deposition patterns. Utilizing a scanning electron microscope (SEM) and electron dispersive microscopy (EDS), I observed agglomerations of hundreds of nano-sized magnetic spherules with compositions almost entirely consisting of Fe3O4. The results indicate that honey does reflect expected regional trends in air pollutant deposition. My study constructs the first sulfate pollution profile of the eastern U.S. using honey and demonstrates the presence of metal spherule pollution in honey for the first time.
Cochran, Cole, "Honey as a Biomonitor for Air Pollutant Deposition in the Eastern United States using Ion Chromatography and Scanning Electron Microscopy" (2022). Undergraduate Honors Theses. William & Mary. Paper 1844.
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