2015-2017 CEMP Berry and Plant Study Report Now Available

During 2015, CEMP monitoring was expanded to evaluate concerns raised by the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community (KBIC) and other community members regarding potential impacts from mining operations on nearby edible plant species and species of high cultural value. Fruit bearing plants located near the Eagle Mine and the Humboldt Mill were identified as a priority for the study. They include: blueberry, juneberry, chokecherry, pin cherry, raspberry, blackberry, strawberry, thimbleberry, cranberry, juniper berry, and wild rice. Specific objectives of the monitoring program include:

  • Locate and identify edible and culturally-important plant species in the immediate vicinity/adjacent to the Eagle Mine and Humboldt Mill sites.
  • Obtain plant tissue (berries, leaves, and/or roots) for analysis at a certified laboratory.
  • Evaluate concentrations of various metals observed in tissue samples and compare them to US Environmental Protection Agency’s (US EPA) oral tolerable intake values (TDI), and/or the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) recommended Daily Values (DV).
  • Use data/results to monitor short-term and long-term changes that may indicate impacts from mining activities.

The sample set collected during the 2015-2017 field seasons provides baseline data regarding metal concentrations in blueberry, raspberry, blackberry, strawberry, and wintergreen plants and/or berries collected near the Eagle Mine and Humboldt Mill sites. Referencing these data in future years may help to support whether or not bioaccumulation of metals is occurring in these plant species. Due to a small sample size and various other potential confounding factors including regional variation, species specific differences, insufficient length of study, and potential alternate sources of pollution, any differences noted between control and test samples cannot be reliably attributed to mining activities at this time.

A complete data summary report for the 2015-2017 field season can be accessed here.