Toronto – The hearing this past week began with evidence from Dr. Michael Nissenbaum of Maine. Nissenbaum’s controlled study of people living in Mars Hill and Vinalhaven, Maine was the subject. Information on the study has been embargoed as it is up for peer review therefore details cannot be described here. However Nissenbaum did state that he lived 90 miles from the wind developments in Maine. After hearing what was happening in news reports he began a pilot study of people in Mars Hill in 2009. The results of that small study led him to the medical officer of Health to suggest a larger study was needed. But that was turned down. So Nissenbaum hired nurse practitioners to carry out the new study and used amongst other tools internationally recognized standard questionnaires to gather the research.
Nissenbaum’s research identified one important fact. There is a “dose response” relating to humans near wind turbines. In other words the closer a person lives to wind turbines the worse the symptoms are. This fact was repeated over and over with many of the other witnesses who testified this week.
In a delightful and fascinating session that afternoon, Dr. Bob Thorne and Dr. Daniel Shepherd appeared via videolink from New Zealand to speak about psychoacoustics. In psychoacoustics the effect of noise on human health is factored into the calculations when considering the siting of industrial wind turbines. Both PhD’s supported a 10 dB penalty (WHO) or deduction on the MOE 40 dB noise guidelines to 30dB because of the nature of wind turbine noise. Dr. Shepherd stated that the government should not put much faith in computer noise modelling and that bedrooms at night should be even lower; down to 20dB. It was indicated that sleepless nights were of great importance. Both confirmed that sleep disruption = annoyance and that annoyance = stress.
Two epidemiologists then testified concerning the Nissenbaum study. Dr. Jeff Aramini reported on both Nissenbaum and the WindVoiCe self-reporting survey from Ontario 2009.
Dr. Aramini testified that both documents clearly indicated a trend.The other epidemiologist Dr. Jeff Wilson stated that from his evaluation of the Nissenbaum et al report there is strong evidence of causation between wind turbines and reduced quality of life. He said the report fell well within the criteria of a causal relationship.
Wrapping up the week was Dr. Chris Hanning, British sleep specialist. Hanning stated that noise affects sleep and that many short arousals at night will cause blood pressure spikes and ultimately higher overall blood pressure during the exposure to the noise source. He said that due to the thumping noise wind turbines make people may be aroused many times during sleep and not remember it. Hanning also confirmed that the Nissenbaum controlled study indicated there is a clear ‘dose response’ to wind turbines.
This week we are back to Chatham to hear Dr. Arline Bronzaft, noise specialist for New York City, Dr Carl V. Phillips epidemiologist and Dr. Robert McMurtry all testifying for the appellants.