Posted By DANIEL PEARCE, Chatham Daily News
The controversy over whether industrial wind turbines can make people who live near them sick just won’t go away.
Last week, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health declared them safe. Well, not so much safe as not proven dangerous.
“According to the scientific evidence, there isn’t any direct casual link between wind turbine noise and adverse health effects,” Dr. Arlene King announced in a media release.
There’s a lot of wiggle room in that statement.
Somebody standing before a judge could be guilty of a crime they are charged with but is set free because it can’t be proved.
The fact that the turbines could be harmful hasn’t been ruled out. Their harmfulness just can’t be proven.
Rather than toning down the debate going on in Norfolk County about the wind farm in the far southwest corner of the municipality, King’s report is only going to rev it up.
A group of people living in the former Houghton Township area continues to insist the windmills that have gone up in their area over the past few years are making them sick.
It’s easy to dismiss their charges. People become ill, especially as they get older. Headaches? Dizziness? Sleeplessness? These things happen to people all the time.
But if you listen to their stories, something disturbing starts to emerge. Outspoken critic Stephana Johnston insists her problems disappear once she leaves her Lakeshore Road home to sleep in a room she rents in Delhi. Another woman offers a sober, detailed account of the problems she faces: the low level noise from the propeller blades of surrounding turbines, she says, creates vibrations in her house and in her body.
On the surface, it may sound far-fetched, but a Portugese study concluded the phenomenon does happen and is harmful. Vibrations can be set off inside body cavities and soft organs damaged. Their study is referred to in King’s report and dismissed.
“This finding has not been recognized by the international medical and scientific
community,” her report notes. “This research group also hypothesized that a family living near wind turbines will develop vibro-acoustic disease from exposure to low frequency sound, but has not provided evidence to support this.”
Whether or not turbines are a health hazard is an important question for Norfolk County. The province announced recently that another group of turbines are set to go up in the other end of the county east of Port Dover as part of a vast collection of wind and solar farms extending into Haldimand County.
You can say the science doesn’t support that turbines are sickening people. But the anecdotal evidence continues to pile up that they are.
What’s needed is a scientific report stating clearly and unequivocally that wind turbines are not harmful — end of story.
Until then, we should all remain skeptical. And our elected officials should join the other municipalities in Ontario that are calling for a moratorium on the building of any new turbines.
More studies need to be done before we can say for sure they are safe.