Analysis of the Epidemiology and Related Evidence on Health Effects of Wind Turbines on Local Residents

Dr. Carl V. Phillips

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by Dr. Carl V. Phillips MPP, PhD.  This paper was submitted to the Wisconsin Public Service Commission as testimony on whether turbine noise is having an adverse effect on human health.  Dr. Phillips was recently the Editor-in-Chief for the Department of Public Health Sciences, University of Alberta.  

Prof. Phillips is also an award-winning researcher in epidemiology methods, focusing on making epidemiologic research more useful and honest. He teaches on these topics as well as how to use epidemiologic data to make optimal policy decisions.

Prof. Phillips received his PhD in public policy from Harvard University and completed fellowships in health policy at the University of Michigan and philosophy of science at the University of Minnesota, has additional degrees in math and history, and was on the faculty of the University of Texas Medical School’s Center for Evidence-Based Medicine.


Executive Summary

A summary of the main conclusions of my expert opinion, based on my knowledge of epidemiology and scientific methods, and my reading of the available studies and reports, is as follows:

• There is ample scientific evidence to conclude that wind turbines cause serious health problems for some people living nearby. Some of the most compelling evidence in support of this has been somewhat overlooked in previous analyses, including that the existing evidence fits what is known as the case-crossover study design, one of the most useful studies in  epidemiology, and the revealed preference (observed behavior) data of people leaving their homes, etc., which provides objective measures of what would otherwise be subjective phenomena. In general, this is an exposure-disease combination where causation can be inferred from a smaller number of less formal observations than is possible for cases such as chemical exposure and cancer risk.

• The reported health effects, including insomnia, loss of concentration, anxiety, and general psychological distress are as real as physical ailments, and are part of accepted modern definitions of individual and public health. While such ailments are sometimes more difficult to study, they probably account for more of the total burden of morbidity in Western countries than do strictly physical diseases. It is true that there is no bright line between these diseases and less intense similar problems that would not usually be called a disease, this is a case for taking the less intense versions of the problems more seriously in making policy decisions, not to ignore the serious diseases.

• Existing evidence is not sufficient to make several important quantifications, including what portion of the population is susceptible to the health effects from particular exposures, how much total health impact wind turbines have, and the magnitude of exposure needed to cause substantial risk of important health effects. However, these are questions that could be answered if some resources were devoted to finding the answer. It is not necessary to proceed with siting so that more data can accumulate, since there is enough data now if it were gathered and analyzed.

• The reports that claim that there is no evidence of health effects are based on a very simplistic understanding of epidemiology and self-serving definitions of what does not count as evidence. Though those reports probably seem convincing prima facie, they do not represent proper scientific reasoning, and in some cases the conclusions of those reports do not even match their own analysis.

9 thoughts on “Analysis of the Epidemiology and Related Evidence on Health Effects of Wind Turbines on Local Residents

  1. At last, an epidemiologist has stepped into the debate. Hopefully others will join and we can get to the bottom of our dilemma.

    Dr. Siva Sivoththaman, U of Waterloo, Chair in Renewable Energy Technologies and Health, appointed by Prem. McGuinty in Feb, 2010 would do well to include an Epidemiologist like Dr. Phillips into the consortium which he is assembling to study the health effects of IWT’s on people who live surrounded by them.

  2. At the root of this problem lurks a very real threat to our most basic freedoms . . .

    The scientific-technological elite that President Eisenhower warned about in the farewell address on 17 January 1961:

    “The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present — and is gravely to be regarded.”

    “Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.”

    “It is the task of statesmanship to mold, to balance, and to integrate these and other forces, new and old, within the principles of our democratic system — ever aiming toward the supreme goals of our FREE SOCIETY.” [Caps added by me.]

    http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/dwightdeisenhowerfarewell.html

    This elitist group has manipulated, ignored or hidden experimental data since the 1960s on:

    A. The Sun’s role in controlling Earth’s climate [1],

    B. The 1969 Apollo Mission showing that Iron (Fe) is the Sun’s most abundant element [2],

    C. The 1995 Galileo Mission to Jupiter confirming mass fractionation in the Sun [3], and

    D. Now the US Department of Energy (DOE) is ignoring precise nuclear rest mass data showing that neutron repulsion is the nuclear energy source that quantitatively explains the Sun’s outflow of energy, neutrinos, and solar-wind Hydrogen in exactly the proportions observed [1,2].

    1. “Earth’s heat source – the Sun”, Energy & Environment 20 (2009) 133-141.
    2. “The Sun is a plasma diffuser that sorts atoms by mass”, Physics of Atomic Nuclei 69 (2006) 1847-1856.
    3. “Isotopic ratios in Jupiter confirm intra-solar diffusion”, Meteoritics & Planetary Science 33 (1998) A97, paper 5011.

    With kind regards,
    Oliver K. Manuel
    Former NASA Principal
    Investigator for Apollo
    http://myprofile.cos.com/manuelo09

  3. The world is waking up and they cannot stuff this genie back into the bottle. Too many people now understand how science has been hijacked to serve political and economic agendas, and brave individuals continue to stand up and demand the truth.

  4. Let’s make sure we pick our allies carefully.

    Left University of Alberta under a cloud due to $1.5M funding from Phillip Morris.
    http://www.cbc.ca/canada/edmonton/story/2010/01/26/edmonton-tobacco-researcher-departs.html#socialcomments

    Promoter of ‘safe’ tobacco products:
    http://www.ecigarettedirect.co.uk/carl.html

    Low ranking reference in Global Tobacco Networking Focus conference:
    http://www.gtnf-2010.com/agenda2.html

    No more credible than other Drs and Health Officers when it comes to basic research:

    “I reviewed the literature on health effects of wind turbines” http://www.windaction.org/videos/28030

    Is this guy really the ‘scientist’ we want to hitch our wagon to?

  5. I’ve read through your links, Anonymous and I don’t find anything “damning” there. You are twisting things. You make it sound like he is pro-tobacco and being influenced by Phillip Morris. Wrong.

    He is working on research for smoking cessation devices, for pete’s sake! He is anything BUT pro tobacco.

    From one of his students concerning his departure from the University:

    Nobody in the department who would apparently disagree with Carl’s research has ever come out and stated what they the main faults of his research are. The fact is, there are none. The science is sound and is supported by research done globally with the evidence showing that ST is far less harmful than smoking. Carl would be the last person to suggest that means it is safe. This hypocritical bunch of thugs hired Carl with the knowledge of his source of funding. They then used that contentious point to drive him (one of 3 or 4 good researchers in the department) and some very high-achieving students away. In the past I have submitted formal complaints against this department, and eventually dropped out with one year left. All I can say is that I wish these people were as embarrassed and ashamed for themselves as I am for them, and that I am thoroughly disgusted with the University of Alberta’s behaviour in this situation. I have actively discouraged friends and strangers from applying to this department, and will continue to do so until the administration is replaced.

  6. Anonymous, your attempts at misinformation are patently obvious.

  7. Pingback: Scientifically Sound Solutions not Palliative Political Pablum « PA Pundits – International

  8. Beware of Anonymous Trojan horses bearing AWEA/CanWEA informants!

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