Collaborative research with Nlaka’pamux communities addresses the effects of dust on soapberry in interior British Columbia

January 7, 2022

Soapberry is an important food and medicinal plant of Indigenous Nlakapamux people
Samples of soapberry leaves and berries were collected and processed to make tea and juice then analyzed to determine element concentrations
Collecting soapberry berries
Making soapberry juice
Making tea with soapberry leaves

IEG staff and colleagues worked with Nlaka’pamux communities and Teck’s Highland Valley Copper mine in south-central British Columbia to develop and implement a study to examine the effects of mine fugitive-dust emissions on soapberry, an important food and medicinal plant. This research is now published in the journal Ecosphere. Study results showed a measurable effect of mine dust on soapberry and soapberry derivatives (such as tea and juice), though element concentrations were generally within ranges reported for human consumption. Washing of leaves and berries reduced concentrations by between 13 and 48%, depending on the metal. The study provides an example of how mines can collaborate with communities to address complex social–ecological challenges.