By Tracey Richardson, Markdale Standard
A study of renewable energy that will include health effects from wind turbines is getting underway, but it will take at least five years.
Dr. Siva Sivoththaman, a University of Waterloo professor of electrical and computer engineering, is spearheading the government sanctioned study into the safety of renewable energy and its health effects. Wind turbines as well as solar energy will be part of the study.
At Friday’s Grey Bruce public health board meeting, Medical Officer of Health Dr. Hazel Lynn said four of the project’s 10 study areas will focus on wind turbines.
Last fall, several municipalities in Grey-Bruce asked the health unit to conduct a study on health effects from turbines. Lynn believes there is merit to complaints from turbine neighbours and authored a report early this year that suggested a large-scale study was needed. The health unit, however, was not the appropriate agency for the job, she said.
What Lynn hopes to see, she said Friday, is “an epidemiological study to know the prevalence of disrupted people and why that is. Is it because of distance to the turbines, is it because of noise, those kinds of things.”
Lynn said Sivoththaman’s study will address those issues. She expects it to be done “with robustness and with data you can count on.”
She called it a very important step. “It was my recommendation that this kind of research be done by a university or research institute which is non-biased and they have the expertise to do it.”
The study will include developing new technical approaches and guidelines in setting standards to ensure optimal health and safety in the manufacturing, use and end-of-life phases of the renewable energy technologies. It will also involve collaborating with researchers from Waterloo’s faculty of applied health sciences.
Funding is being provided by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, which has allocated $1.5 million over five years.