Health Canada updated wind turbine research design & sound exposure assessment

Environmental and Workplace Health: Health Impacts and Exposure to Sound From Wind Turbines: Updated Research Design and Sound Exposure Assessment

health_canada_logoFebruary 10, 2013
For immediate release

OTTAWA -Today, the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of Health, announced Health Canada published a revised research design for the wind turbine noise and health study, which is being carried out in collaboration with Statistics Canada.

The proposed research design was posted on the Health Canada website in July 2012 for public comment and over 950 comments were received during the 60 day public consultation period. After an evaluation of feedback received during the consultation, the Expert Committee introduced changes to the research design including an assessment of infrasound and changes to the questionnaire administered by Statistics Canada. The Expert Committee includes specialists in areas pertaining to noise measurement, health assessment, clinical medicine and epidemiology.

“Our Government is committed to protecting the health and safety of Canadian families, and this study is in response to questions from residents living near wind farms about possible health effects of low frequency noise generated by wind turbines,” said Minister Aglukkaq. “The Expert Committee has carefully reviewed and evaluated the feedback received during the public consultation and has taken it into consideration when developing the revised research design.”

Study results are anticipated in late 2014.  An initial target sample size of 2,000 dwellings will be selected from 8-12 wind turbine installation facilities in Canada. In addition to taking physical measurements from participants, such as blood pressure, investigators will conduct face-to-face interviews and take noise measurements inside and outside of some homes to validate sound modelling.

The revised research design is available on the Health Canada website. A summary of the public comments received during the consultation period and the responses from the Expert Committee are also available on the website.

32 thoughts on “Health Canada updated wind turbine research design & sound exposure assessment

    • Many of us believe it is unethical for Health Canada to be conducting research on citizens who have not consented to be exposed to these known health risks.

      By participating in this research, you could be providing information that will be distorted and used against you.

      Health Canada and the federal government are not neutral parties, they are biased.

      Principal Investigator David Michaud has advocated for exposure limits of 45 dba (which is higher than Ontario regulations permit) even though he admits the science supporting this position is lacking. David Michaud will not retract this opinion.

      Also, NRCan is subsidizing offending wind turbine projects through the ecoENERGY program.

      You should seek independent legal advice before deciding whether to participate in this research or not.

  1. The Canadian Institutes of Health Research should be doing this study, Not Health Canada.
    This announcement is all propaganda the day before a new premier (we didn’t elect in) is sworn in.

  2. Definitely not good news; by 2014 major wind projects will be already under construction unless the Ont Liberal government calls a moratorium, or is defeated. The plan all along by McGuinty and Wynne is to get construction started on as many developments as possible, so they are harder to stop. The issue here is clearly with the provincial government who have jurisdiction on energy development; the solution just like the problem must come from Ont. The federal study is somewhat of a red herring, the findings will come far too late to help Ontarians now.

  3. If they have revised the ‘research design’ to include the ‘potential’ negative effects of Low Frequency Sounds for the first time, then if their mandate is genuinely ‘..committed to protecting the health and safety of Canadian families…’ they should have no legal option but to immediately shut down the existing and any operational wind energy projects and cancel all future wind energy projects until such time as their studies are completed.
    It isn’t as though Ontario actually needs the minimal energy produced by the present 1500 IWTs?
    Is there not a lawyer out there who can take out an injunction against the provincial government and get a court to impose the above….???
    Isn’t the new ‘research design’ a plain and unambiguous admission that the provincial government imposed the Green Energy Act before they bothered to find out if enforcing wind energy on their own citizens might physically harm those same citizens?
    Andrew Watts

  4. People Might find this link interesting — see the table at the end…

    http://www.globalskm.com/Insights/Achieve-Magazine/Issue1-2011/article8.aspx
    Deciding where to build power stations or wind turbines depends on a number of criteria; one being proximity to homes and businesses.

    Those who live or work between 500 metres to two kilometres from power stations or wind turbines could experience some challenging physical symptoms including headaches, nausea, anxiety and dizziness if they are exposed to very high levels of low frequency noise (LFN), that is, frequencies below 100 Hz.

    Of course these noise sources are not usually located in built-up residential areas so they generally only potentially affect industrial areas, some housing estates and isolated farm houses.

    Historically, the problem for regulatory authorities has been to determine the correct levels of LFN that would not result in annoyance or other symptoms. Accurate assessment is crucial both for gaining approvals for appropriate siting of a facility and dealing with complaints.

    Recently an innovative approach was devised that simplifies assessment and gauges potential impact more accurately. This allows authorities to make better judgements during the planning stages of new developments as well as making assessment of the validity of complaints easier.
    See the table at the end of the document…

    Dr. Norm Broner is a Practice Leader in Noise, Acoustics and Vibration at Sinclair Knight Merz, a company based in Australia. He has over 35 years of experience working in the field of acoustics, noise and vibration and has published 20 peer-reviewed papers in the area of infrasound and low frequency noise, its effects and assessment. Dr. Broner wrote the Chapter on “Effects of Infrasound, Low Frequency Noise and Ultrasound on People” in the “Handbook of Noise and Vibration Control” published in 2007. He was the Guest Editor for a special edition of Acoustics Australia dealing with wind farm noise. Dr. Broner has been a major contributor to numerous noise impact assessments involving power stations and wind turbine farms. Education: PhD (Psychoacoustics), University of London. Professional Affiliations/Appointments include Australian National Health Medical Research Council Wind Farm & Human Health Reference Group; Fellow, Institution of Engineers Australia; Member of Institute of Acoustics London; Member of Institution of Noise Control Engineers USA; Vice President of Australian Acoustical Society; Member of Acoustical Society of America; Member of Audio Engineering Society

    Ok, 60dB huh?

  5. Barbara:

    I think it’s far more interesting that it was this fellow in particular that decided 60dB was a safe level. It is an interesting precedent — I can imagine why he might have been chose to fill an advisory role on setting standards…

    Maybe Norm Hartlen and others might comment….

    Just sayin’

    I hate the freakin’ spelling and grammar detectors that decide what I wanted to type…

    • Instead of hiring environmental advisors and sound people the IWT developers should have hired an historian to find out what kind of people live in rural Ontario before they came here. These are the very same kinds of people who were at Vimy Ridge and Juno Beach and it is not a smart idea to push them around.

    • Health Canada’s Wind turbine Noise and Health Study Expert Committe Members
      See international advisors:
      Out of 5 there are 3 from the Netherlands
      http:www.hc-sc.gc.ca/ewh-semt/consult/_2013/wind_turbine-eoliennes/committee_comite-eng.php

  6. Don’t you love the ‘team’ being put together by Health Canada? Apart from a couple of names apparently from private organisations they are all from government, particularly educational establishments, all of whom are dependent on government for their generous salaries….!!!!
    Dr.Norm Boner appears to have recommended 57dB as an acceptable noise from a gas powered plant in an urban setting , But those noise parameters are now recognized as not appropriate for wind energy projects. He has also consulted on at least two Australian IWT projects but I cannot find any link from their sites to him and what his findings or recommendations were.
    The telling remarks appears in Health Canada’s opening remarks – ‘..The continued success and viability of wind turbine energy in Canada..’
    As they also end their opening remarks by admitting they will not be reaching any definitive conclusions they have already told us their conclusions ahead of 2014…!!! Absolutely no change and screw rural Ontario……………. It will be too late for the majority of us by then anyway.
    Andrew Watts

  7. My understanding is that it is infra and low frequency sound from turbines that may be causing people to be sick. These sounds are generally not recorded on a sound meter. To say that x dB is acceptable and causes no damage to residents is to fall into the wind industry argument. I believe this argument was discredited 4 or 5 years ago, along with the MOE line that a normal
    wind plant is as quiet as a library.
    The more I see of the organizations and people involved in this study, the less faith I have that any good can possibly come from it. This link from this site Dec 12 discusses this issue:

    http://www.wind-watch.org/documents/cooperative-measurement-survey-and-analysis-of-low-frequency-and-infrasound-at-the-shirley-wind-farm/

  8. Dr. David Michaud, principal investigator, is adjunct Prof. of Social Sciences, School of Psychology, U of Ottawa! What could possibly go wrong! Alison Denning has reveiwed & provided comment on 40 wind projects in eastern Canada, including Ontario. Sure like to hear those comments.
    After reading all about these so called experts on this Health Canada study, I`ve not only come to the conclusion / realization that it`s definately bogus, but also it shows what a complete waste of time, university education can be.
    Maybe the changes they say they made are the result of their meeting with CanWEA.
    So forget this fixed study & start doing your part to elect a PC government ASAP. It`s our one & only hope to save Ontario, simple as that.

    • True, but there is still a need to locate as much information as is possible. The general public will not take the time to find out who the members of this health survey committee are. The public assumes that if the government is doing this work it is not biased.

  9. Health Canada should have revised and not just tweaked the study .The rebuttal from Health Canada did not adequately address the issues raised by the comments submitted. This study will not be able answer the question it has set out to study. The research group has not got the expertise to carry out this project. One only has to look at the publication record of the principle investigators to come to this conclusion.
    George Heigenhauser

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