Diesel Fumes Negatively Impact Bee Population
A recent study published in the Journal of Chemical Ecology has found that diesel fumes in polluted environments may be negatively impacting the global bee population. According to a press release issued by the University of South Hampton, these “new findings suggest that toxic nitrous oxide (NOx) in diesel exhausts could be having an even greater effect on bees’ ability to smell out flowers than was previously thought.”
Previous research regarding NOx showed that this pollutant has been known to confuse bees’ sense of smell, which they need to find their food source. This study found that 5 out of the 11 most common single compounds in floral odors can be chemically altered when they’re exposed to NOx gases from exhaust fumes.
While the researchers of this study note that bees are currently declining worldwide, they don’t believe that diesel air pollution is the primary reason for the decline, but it is certainly a factor.
“People rely on bees and pollinating insects for a large portion of our food,” said lead author Dr. Robbie Girling from the University of Reading’s Centre for Agri-Environmental Research, “yet humans have paid the bees back with habitat destruction, insecticides, climate change and are pollution. This work highlights that pollution from dirty vehicles is not only dangerous to people’s health, but could also have an impact on our natural environment and the economy.”