Saffron as environmental biomarker of diffuse contamination

Luana Maggi, L. Maggi, M. Carmona, A. Zalacain, G. L. Alonso, L. García Diz, M. Martínez Tomé, M. A. Murcia

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1 Citation (Scopus)


For the first time saffron has been employed as environmental bioindicator to characterize the presence of a complex polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) mixture. The objective of this study was to provide quantitative information regarding PAHs contamination in saffron in order to verify the possibility to use this spice as environmental biomarker and to determine the bioaccumulation of these compounds. Twenty seven saffron samples coming from different countries were analyzed by stir bar sorptive extraction technique in combination with gas chromatography-ion trap tandem mass spectrometry. The data show that the samples contained different levels of contaminants but some of them have higher concentrations than the maximum residue limits (MRLs) of pollutants established by the European Commission for spices. Nine out of 27 saffron samples contained benzo[a]pyrene in a range between 10.5 and 18.5 µg/kg values higher than the MRL.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)265-269
Number of pages5
JournalActa Horticulturae
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Crocus sativus L.
  • environmental contaminants
  • gas chromatography
  • pesticides
  • polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons


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