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plant iconThe Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) heard concerns from the Aamjiwnaang community regarding the safety of the consumption and use of local medicinal plants.

The Plants Study aimed to address these questions by undertaking a comparative study to determine if chemicals found in plants in Aamjiwnaang First Nation are different when compared to the same plants grown at another First Nation distant from industry.

The MECP compiled and reviewed existing information from relevant studies conducted in the Sarnia area. These were used to inform the Plants Study design, in order to better address the concerns of the community.

The MECP worked with the Aamjiwnaang environment and health departments, Toronto Metropolitan University and Health Canada to develop the Plant Study. A western scientific approach was used to address a question from the community. Feedback and input on the Plants Study, including the selection of 11 medicinal plants, were collected during community engagement meetings.

Study Approach:

The Plants Study was led by an academic team from Toronto Metropolitan University, in collaboration with Aamjiwnaang First Nation. The same 11 species of plants were collected from both the Aamjiwnaang community, and the Kettle and Stony Point First Nation community. The plants were compared with one another to assess the levels of pollutants found in the two locations.

Dr. Eric Liberda's academic team from Toronto Metropolitan University coordinated plant sampling and analysis, and conducted the review of plant data. The chemical analysis of the plants samples was undertaken by a private lab.

SAEHP Plants Study Diagram

Key Findings:

The detailed data and report from this work was provided by Dr. Eric Liberda of Toronto Metropolitan University to staff and leadership in the two participating First Nations. Key findings shared include:

  • The study found no evidence of toxic air pollutants building up in plants harvested in Aamjiwnaang First Nation, and identified no health concerns.
  • Plant tissues collected at both First Nations had similarly low concentrations of chemicals when tested for in a lab.
  • Only one compound, tungsten, was found at higher levels in Aamjiwnaang First Nation plants compared to Kettle and Stony Point, but levels were low in the plants from both communities. No specific health effects have been associated with exposure to tungsten in humans (Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry).
  • The researchers did not identify any health concerns from the study results.

If you have any questions or feedback on this component of the project, please contact:

Working towards improving Sarnia's air quality!