MOH targets ill effects of turbines

Dr. Hazel Lynn

by Jonathan Sher, London Free Press

In recent years, the burgeoning wind energy industry has been able to count as an ally public health officials in Ontario — but that may soon change.

Dr. Hazel Lynn, the chief medical officer of health in Grey and Bruce counties, is laying the groundwork for what would be the first Ontario-based study to examine the link between wind turbines and ill health.

Lynn was asked by her health board to come up with a way and will present options for a study when the board next meets in January.

She comes to the task with a mindset startlingly different from the public health hierarchy in Ontario — she believes the absence of proof is the start of the debate and not the end.

Turbines emit low-pitched sounds, some so low they’re sensed only as vibration. Some turbine opponents argue those vibrations disrupt the body’s normal rhythms and cause a long list of ailments. An American doctor, Nina Pierpont, reported complaints of headaches, ringing in the ears, dizziness, nausea, rapid heart rate, irritability and problems with concentration and memory.

“It’s really difficult to show causality from environmental exposure,” Lynn said, citing the decades it took to prove cigarettes caused cancer.

A family doctor, whose work took her from British Columbia to Nigeria before becoming a medical officer of health a decade ago, Lynn has seen how people suffer after wind turbines go up, especially in and around the village of Ripley in Bruce County, where she estimates 15% of the population reports ill effects from turbines such as difficulty sleeping and headaches.

“I know there are communities affected,” she said.

But a look at community effects was cut out off the final draft of a report written this year by Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Arlene King.

King found no evidence turbines caused illness and no reason to believe such a link was possible.

At the time of that report, Lynn said she suspected King had removed a section on community impact because it would have looked bad politically for her to criticize other Ontario ministries.

It’s not just King whose findings are frequently cited by the wind industry.

The top public health official in Chatham-Kent, Dr. David Colby, one of a dozen or so professionals asked by that industry to review prior medical studies on wind turbines — Colby and his team decided the so-called health link was more science fiction than science.

But Lynn respectfully disagrees, arguing Colby’s review is dated and examined the wrong thing — audible sound measured in decibels, rather than sub-audible frequencies that can be felt rather than heard.

She’s also certain about this: The distress caused by turbines has been made worse by a couple of things that could have easily be done differently:

Queen’s Park used Ontario’s Green Energy Act to take away decision-making power from towns and cities.

Lease deals with wind energy companies only benefit a select few landowners, rather than entire communities.

In Italy, a small community agreed to wind turbines and solar power too with revenue going to the entire community.

“That could have happened in Ontario,” Lynn said.

She also object to the minimum setbacks for wind turbines in Ontario — 550 metres — and says Germany and France are now considering buffers more than twice that distance.

“If you don’t mind 10 to 15% of people being distressed, put the turbines within 550 metres,” she said.

12 thoughts on “MOH targets ill effects of turbines

  1. McGuinty, Duncan and Smitherman didn’t mind 15% of the people getting sick. Most of the new IWT’s are being installed under the old reg’s so they can be closer than 550M. Do-no-good doesn’t care either.

  2. Bingo- there’s the article the LFP needed! I like the last sentence best:

    “If you don’t mind 10 to 15% of people being distressed, put the turbines within 550 metres.”

    This is why I go berserk when Duguid, Smitherman or Dalton spout off about saving our ‘children’s health’….well, they have a 10-15% chance that it will get a lot worse with turbines rammed up behind their home and school, real nice.

  3. I suspect that if the 10 – 15% was part of the population of a large urban centre it would matter…numbers you know. 10-15% of a small farming community doesn’t…collateral damage…as long as the politicians and wind companies get their money they don’t care. As far as Dr. King is concerned…as I stated in an earlier letter, someone needs to remind her about the Hippocratic Oath…there is NOTHING in there telling a doctor to worry about appeasing politicians…she has deliberately kept the health and peace of mind of residents of this province in harms way to protect her political position…shame on her…she should resign from the profession.

  4. 15% may be a huge underestimation, and certainly isn’t derived from thorough statistical analysis…

  5. Anyone feeling irrelevant?

    It’s so ironic that those of us who hang our clothes on the line all 4 seasons of the year, who recycle rainwater, who sleep with open windows on hot summer nights, or wouldn’t be caught dead watering our lawn, are the same group being punished by our government.

    Did anyone in the big urban hub use their clothesline this weekend?…..silly me, they have by-laws against them, (unsightly clutter)…

    But put a few turbines next to our “irrelevant homes”, run some more overhead lines, don’t worry about our health or our quality of life, just so long as we can keep those urban dryers and air conditioners running. Thanks mcguinty.

    From the 10-15%

  6. Come October 6, 2011, our 10-15% might be extremely significant.

    I think all of our Federal leaders would truly think Christmas arrived early if they were to be presented with a 10-15% bonus.

    Dalton may find out exactly what the impact can be when 10-15% of the population of rural Ontario who care to vote get out and vote against him and his minions.

    Time will tell, and we will not forget!

  7. Listen up everyone.
    There is no basis for the 10- 15% number that Dr. Lynn continues to give to the media. None whatsoever. No study has been done, no families have been polled or spoken to. It is just as bad as Dr. King saying that there is no link. Just words tossed out recklessly.
    The implication at the end that people would be happier if they were participating in the project, otherwise known as receiving some type of payback is an absolute insult and continues the serious misleading programming that wind proponents and our government have been feeding the public.
    This is not acceptable.
    No victim of this mess that has destroyed their lives is going to trust anyone from our government, from our health minsitry or from our public health unit who is governed by our politicians.
    No sir, no way.

  8. By the way…
    what the heck took her so long anyway? Ripley and Goderich have been suffering for 3+ years!
    No government. No research chairs hired by the government. No proponents.

  9. ontariowoe- I completely agree with your point that residents would NOT be ‘happier’ if they were participating in these wind developments. This is more than an insult to humans… we can’t ignore severe health issues just because there is a bit of money coming in the bank, it just doesn’t even out that way. Actually, what I sense is that a lot of the farmers who are signed on, and wish they weren’t now— the reverse of the so called ‘community’ project — we want a ‘community project’ that keeps the wind turbines away so we actually have a community left.

  10. I don’t trust the smoke Dr. Lynn puts out there on one hand as she appears to be moving ahead with ‘dealing’ with the issue on the other hand. Shame on her for, once again, insinuating that people getting paid for turbines are much better off. That wind industry rhetoric is shamefull and beyond rude to the people who have suffered so, including those who have signed leases to host turbines.

    There is absolutely no basis to 10 to 15 % figure, in fact she is already hedging down on the number. It used to be a solid, STRAIGHT OUT OF THE AIR, 15%.

    Dr. Nissenbaum’s numbers are far and beyond any 15%. The number of people who want to move away from the turbines in his control study at Mars Hill in Maine (an independent CONTROL STUDY, NOT a survey, done by a health professional) says that over 90% of the people just want to move away.


  11. It might be a good idea to attend the January 2011 Grey-Bruce Health Unit Meeting to be there when Dr. Lynn presents her “options” for the proposed health study.

  12. On the topic of residents being happier if they were participating:

    A few years ago, a friend told me he was approached by a wind company to lock up his land. They were claiming he would generate 60K per year and that he had the number if I wanted to get in touch with them to look into getting involved.

    Whether the income quoted is legitimate or not, I am a single mom, and I struggle to keep this farm, both physically as well as financially, and I NEVER made that call. It took all of 2 minutes to make the connection between industrializing the land I love, living near the EMF and the impact of my actions on my neighbours, $60 000.00 per year or not.
    (This was well before I knew anything about LFN or negative health affects)

    I recently discovered I will have turbines across the road from our home.

    For some of us, there are no incentives that will compensate our values or our quality of life. For others, there are.

    It’s unfortunate, but I will likely lose everything I have put into this place, over a project I chose to avoid, because something about it did not seem right.

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