Food safety is a crucial issue for food health and economics in developed and developing countries (Bolek 2020). Also, the main objective of food safety includes protecting the health of consumers and their confidence in basic foods (Schröder et al. 2016; Bonerba et al. 2021). In parallel with the increase in population, the demand for basic food products is increasing day by day (Ruby et al. 2019). However, rapidly increasing industrialization causes deterioration in the environment and ecosystem, leading to pollution of basic food products (Altunay et al., 2019). It is essential to monitor pollutants in basic food products such as honey and pollen to prevent health risks that may occur due to human consumption of food (Panseri et al. 2020).
Studies on persistent organic pollutants (POPs) such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are increasing each day due to their permanence, biological accumulation, toxicity, long-distance atmospheric transport, and adverse effects on human health (Fu et al. 2018; Qiu et al. 2019). PAHs and PCBs are highly persistent in living things and the environment because of their high bioaccumulative and lipophilic properties (Medehouenou et al. 2011). They accumulate in the food chain due to their physical and chemical properties and affect human health negatively (Mamontova et al. 2017). Although most POPs such as PBCs were banned in the 1970s and the 2000s, they are still found at a significant level in food today (Suarez-Lopez et al. 2019).
Increasing environmental pollution due to industrial developments affects living life, such as soil, air, water, and plants. Honey bees (Apis mellifera L.) go out of the hives approximately ten times a day to collect nectar and pollen from flowers every day in an area of 7 km2 (Rissato et al. 2007). During this process, various microorganisms, particulates, pesticides, and chemicals are kept in the bodies of honey bees and transported by the honey bees to pollen and honey (Rissato et al. 2007; Calatayud-Vernich et al. 2018). Honey is a natural food consisting of amino acids, sugars and enzymes, organic acids, vitamins, carotenoids, minerals, and aromatic substances (Da Silva et al. 2016). Honey, used as flavoring and sweetener in many foods and beverages, has been known for its nutritional and therapeutic values since ancient times (Meo et al. 2017). Pollen is frequently used as a functional food by humans as it contains high amounts of compounds such as amino acids, antioxidants, vitamins, and lipids (Ares et al. 2018). Pollen is frequently referred to as "the world's best food products" (Kieliszek et al. 2018).
Consumption of honey has increased significantly in the last 25 years due to its healing properties and high nutritional values(Huang et al. 2020). Turkey is the world's second-largest honey-producing country, with approximately 105727 tons of annual honey production (Tornuk et al. 2013; Cengiz et al. 2018). Also, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Turkey's daily consumption of honey is the sixth most consuming country in the world, with 3.3 grams (FAO, 2017). Also, there are many studies in the world and Turkey in which the concentration values of POPs on honey are determined (Al-Alam et al., 2019; Al-Waili et al., 2012; Bargańska et al., 2016; Chiesa et al., 2016; dos Santos et al., 2021; Erdoǧrul, 2007; Kargar et al., 2017; Panseri et al., 2020; Roszko et al., 2016). However, although there are few studies in the literature for calculating the cancer risk for PAHs based on honey and pollen ingestion, there are no studies in which there is an estimation of cancer risk for PCBs based on honey and pollen ingestion.
The purposes of this study were i) to determine PAH and PCB concentration in pollen and honey samples, ii) identification of possible sources of PAHs and PCBs, and iii) to evaluate the risk of cancer that may occur by ingestion.