Republic of Macedonia is a southeast European state situated in the central part of the Balkan Peninsula. It borders Bulgaria to the east, Greece to the south, Albania to the west, Serbia and Kosovo to the north.
Macedonia is predominantly a mountainous country, cut by larger or smaller valleys, gorges, plateaus, and highlands. Altitude ranges from about 60 m at the lowest point to 2,764 m at the highest point. It has about 15 mountain ranges higher than 2,000 m.
According to the analyses of biodiversity, Macedonia is at the top of the list of states called “European Hotspots”. The differentiation of indigenous species, as well as the invasion of other area migrants, played a significant role in its genesis.
The flora and fauna of Macedonia are amazingly heterogeneous: Mediterranean flora goes hand in hand with the plant species of the Euro-Siberian regions, while mountains are the natural habitats of bear, deer, boar, wolf, and many other animal species.
Macedonian Honey, its characteristics
Honey contains many elements essential for health: P, Fe, Al, Mg, Cu, Mn, Si, Cl, Ca, K and Na. These elements are part of the composition of the soil, on which plants grow and feed. Through the root system the essential elements are transported to the plant nectar, the resource for making honey. Elements present in honey will vary depending on the soil composition on which the plants grow, and also according to the botanical type of plant from which bees take nectar (Matei et al. 2004). It is also known that the content of some heavy metals in honey could be as a result of anthropogenic contamination (Przybylowsky and Wilczyńska 2001; Tuzen and Soylak 2005).
In the study “Monitoring of trace elements in honey from the Republic of Macedonia by atomic absorption spectrometry” (Elena Stankovska , Trajče Stafilov and Robert Šajn, ), nine elements (Cd, Cu, Fe, Mn, Na, K, Ca, Mg and Zn) were analysed in 123 honey samples collected from 12 regions of the Republic of Macedonia. By Macedonian regulations the maximal allowed levels for some elements are established (0.03 mg kg−1 for Cd, 1 mg kg−1 for Cu, 20 mg kg−1 for Fe, 10 mg kg−1 for Zn).
Three distinctive regions (Kichevo, Berovo and Ohrid) were found to have mean contents of K, Ca and Mg higher than other regions. This discrepancy is due to the botanical origin of the samples; the forest origin of all the samples from the Kichevo region (all samples having a dark brown colour), and the forest or mixed origin of samples from the Ohrid and Berovo regions. The range of values for K coincides with the results of Fernández-Torres et al. (2005), the analytical results for samples from Soria Province, Spain (Nalda et al. 2005) for Spanish thyme (Terrab et al. 2004) or rosemary honey group (González-Miret et al. 2005) for Ca and Mg; or with the content of Ca in French lavender or thyme honeys (Nalda et al. 2005). The samples from the mentioned regions are distinctive in their Mn content as well, again due to their botanical origin.
The maximum permitted level of Fe in honey according to Macedonian legislation is set at 20 mg kg−1. All of the samples analysed contain Fe well below this limit.
Cadmium in everyday life and its presence in Macedonian Honey
The presence of cadmium in the environment is mainly because of the emission from the process of cadmium production and manufacture of cadmium products (batteries, pigments and coatings). Cadmium is recognized to produce toxic effects on humans (Casarett & Doull's Toxicology 1995).
Food is the main source of cadmium intake for non-occupationally exposed people. Crops grown in polluted soil or irrigated with polluted water may contain increased concentrations of cadmium (Bogdanov, 2006). Kidneys and livers concentrate cadmium (Casarett & Doull's Toxicology, 1995; World Health Organization, 1992, 2004). Levels in fruit, meat and vegetables are usually below 10 μg.
Average daily intakes from food in non contaminated areas is at the lower end of the 10 to 25 μ g range of which approximately 0.5 to 1.0 μg is actually retained in the body. Uptake of cadmium from smoking could more than double that amount. More recently, the possible role of cadmium in human carcino- genesis has also been studied in some detail (Casarett & Doull's Toxicology 1995; World Health Organization 1992, 2004).
Therefore, it is very important to analyze the content of Cd in honey samples in terms of its toxicity, as well as the fact that Cd can be transported trough the root system into the nectar of the plants (Bogdanov 2006).
In study “THE CONTENT OF CADMIUM IN HONEY FROM THE REPUBLIC OF MACEDONIA (Elena STANKOVSKA, Trajče STAFILOV and Robert ŠAJN, Institute of Chemistry, Faculty of Science, Sts. Cyril and Methodius University, Skopje, Macedonia) the results obtained for the content of Cd in honey samples from different regions from the Republic of Macedonia, determined by ETAAS (previously digested by microwavedigestion system) are given in Table. The maximum permitted value for Cd in honey in Macedonian legislation is set to be 30 μg kg-1 . Only 6 out of 123 samples in total had Cd content higher than 30 μg kg-1 and only one much higher content of 267.9 μg kg-1.
The obtained mean values for Cd content in honey collected from Macedonia, as well as the content range, are similiar to those found for honey samples non-contaminated regions: Middle Anatolia, Turkey (Tuzen and Soylak 2005), Spain (González Paramás et al.2000; Terrab et al. 2004; González-Miret et al. 2005). However, data for honey from the Veles, Berovo and Strumica,
which are higher in accordance with the values from samples collected in other regions in Macedonia, are comerable to literature data for simillar regions in Europe (France, Devillers et al. 2002; Pomeranian region, Poland, Przybylowski & Wilczyńska 2001 or from Czech Republic, Čelechovská & Vorlová 2001).
It is clear that the quality of the honey is on a very European level and even higher than the standards set by the EU.
In other hand, Macedonia caries a high potential as a non-polluted land, free of expensive chemicals, and a huge mountain area don’t touch by a human hand.