Health unit to cost out turbine health study

By Tracey Richardson, Owen Sound Sun Times

The Grey Bruce Health Unit will provide a cost estimate for studying the health effects of wind turbines in the area in response to a growing number of calls for a study from municipalities.

Huron-Kinloss spearheaded the call for a local health study, with Georgian Bluffs and Arran-Elderslie jumping onboard. Earlier this week Bruce County also agreed to throw its support behind the Huron-Kinloss demand.

But if a study is done it will be expensive, and in Medical Officer of Health Dr. Hazel Lynn’s estimate, it could take as long as a decade to link wind turbines to ill health effects. It took 40 years, she said at Friday’s public board of health meeting, for studies to confirm the link between smoking and lung disease. 

Lynn said the health unit is not set up as a research institute and would not have funding for a study that could cost millions.

“We’re not set up, nor are we funded, to do large cohort studies . . . But I think there’s probably enough turbines in the province now to look at communities comparatively.”

Ideally a study would be done in conjunction with a research institute, such as a university, or with the backing of the province. Lynn also said any kind of study would have to be narrowly defined. For instance, are some people more susceptible to ill effects from turbines? And what is causing the problem — stray voltage, noise, wind, vibrations? How much exposure is causing the problem? There needs to be a research question, she said.

There is no doubt, she said, that some people are suffering. “There’s not too many other technologies when they’re introduced that cause about 15% of the people, at least in some of the areas we have, to be affected by it.”

She said symptoms from people have been “pretty consistent throughout, and I think the fact that the closer you are to them, the more people have symptoms, is a start on all of this.”

Sleep disturbance is the biggest complaint, she said.

Lynn told the board she will inquire if there is an appetite at the provincial level for a study. She will report back to the health unit’s board of health in January.

The province has never commissioned a health study of wind turbines. Its chief medical officer of health reviewed studies done elsewhere and concluded the turbines were not dangerous.

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Lynn said she suspects wind turbine health studies will have to continue to come from outside of government.

“They’re heavily invested; they’ve already paid these companies to put the turbines up. And the companies aren’t inter-e sted either because they’ve been paid to put the turbines up.”

There’s a message in the municipalities’ demand for a health study. Lynn said, “I think what they’re saying is stop it (the turbines). But the government hears the same kind of stuff I’m hearing day by day.”

Health board chairman Bob Pringle said he is not in favour of a locally produced study if it is expensive and if it means the province might skip doing its own study. He said if a study costs in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, he might be in favour, but not if it costs millions.

Grey County Warden Arlene Wright said a study would be difficult to sell to the county because of its potential cost. She wants the province to do a study.

“We all want green energy, but not if it isn’t safe green energy,” she said.

In the meantime, Lynn said the government would be prudent to at least increase the distance between wind turbines and residences, “and that would at least reduce the number of people who are distressed, and maybe that’s the best way to start into this.”

9 thoughts on “Health unit to cost out turbine health study

  1. ‘In the meantime, Lynn said the government would be prudent to at least increase the distance between wind turbines and residences, “and that would at least reduce the number of people who are distressed, and maybe that’s the best way to start into this.”’

    If we can convince Dalton and his buddies that the setbacks need to be increased to 1.5 km until the independent epidemiological health studies have been completed, farm more residents of rural Ontario will also be able to sleep easier (and hopefully in their own homes).

    It is also vital that lease holders not be exempted from the minimum setback requirements.

    Our collective health needs to be a priority of our provincial government, and allowing a select group to “opt-out” is creating a potential health issue down the road for those residents which all of us will pay for in the long run.

  2. The Ontario Gov. would gladly fund this type of research.Right.

  3. Since it is completely impractical to increase the setback once a Turbine has been built and since the size of Turbines continues to increase at a rapid rate – it seems to me that 1.5 km (with no independent studies to prove this a safe distance) is far too little.

    Unfortunately, we are dealing with machines that provide serious threats to the health and well being of people and animals – and as such, if we are going to err – it must be on the side of caution. Significantly greater setbacks must be enforced until and unless epidemiological studies suggest otherwise.

  4. Amen Debbie! Thank you very much!

    Most lease holders, lawyers, etc. especially those who signed just prior to GEA with projects still on hold understood the GEA would offer health and safety protection to ALL residences in rural Ontario with NO exceptions. Many are still not aware that the GEA excluded lease holders from any GEA consultation about any degree of health protection. Furthermore, they were told that gov’t would make companies monitor low frequency noise with the implication it would also apply to lease holders! Oh so not true! We were misled!!

    Since noise is a health and safety issue then regulations based on adequate science need to apply to ALL residences in rural Ontario including those lease holders who were mislead by the government.

    Having said that, I have been told that most projects would not proceed if they had to give lease holders even the min. 550m and 40dbA setback let alone upwards of 1000m. (Hint, the majority of farm lots in Ontario are 1000m.) Little wonder the government and companies had to mislead lease holders and offer up “hush money” to unsuspecting non participants to sign as a participant with no turbine contracts.

    As Medical Officer of Health Dr. Hazel Lynn was quoted in the Owen SoundSun Times on Sat. http://www.owensoundsuntimes.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=2854963
    There is no doubt, she said, that some people are suffering. “There’s not too many other technologies when they’re introduced that cause about 15% of the people, at least in some of the areas we have, to be affected by it.”
    In the meantime, Lynn said the government would be prudent to at least increase the distance between wind turbines and residences, “and that would at least reduce the number of people who are distressed, and maybe that’s the best way to start into this.”

  5. Astonishing!

    Another study….at this point, I don’t think so. And trust government workers to require millions to reinvent the wheel.

    The Society for Wind Vigilance has given them studies enough to halt this depravity where a portion of the Canadian population(largely rural) is tortured by another portion(largely urban) for no good reason. see Carl V. Phillips, see Ross McKitrick, see Donald Jones above.

    See also McGinty in hell!

  6. So Warden Wright said “we all want green energy”. Where has she been?

    “An appetite at the provincial level for a study” At least she is going to ask but don’t expect anything.

  7. And 15% affected by wind turbine noise. News of this situation should do wonders for property values in affected areas.

    Would think 10 year study is way too long as small animals can be used for these studies to determine how they react to wind turbine noise.

    Lung cancer is a disease that most often develops over a long period of time. So wish people would stop making this comparison with turbine noise.

    Wind turbine noise effects appear quite quickly over just a few months or less.

  8. I don’t understand why Dr Lynn is saying the studies would cost so much and take so long. Dr Michael Nissenbaum carried out his studies of people at Mars Hill and Vinalhaven in Maine, using a validated questionnaire which was delevered vis nurse practitioners. I think he said at Picton that you could duplicate the study for $10,000.
    Another Medical Officer of Health in Ontario said what you would need is a sleep study (I would suggest doing people who live next to turbines both at home and away, then a control group) and it wouldn’t cost more than $100,000. However, as Dr Carl Phillips has said, the people who have the resources to do a study, won’t.
    The 550 meter setback in Ontario is based on geography, not health: if the setback was any farther there would be no wind energy development in southern/eastern Ontario.

  9. Proving that wind turbines cause serious health problems would mean the end of turbines in Ontario.

    Perhaps the only and best hope is that the studies can be done in the U.S. The Ontario government does not want to prove itself wrong.

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