Tim Matheson (Nov. 11, 2014) tells us he has had enough of wind turbine health effects. I am sure that the many people living near Ontario’s wind turbines who are still suffering from pounding in the chest and head, dizziness, headaches, ringing in the ears and sleep deprivation have had enough too. However, the serious inaccuracies in Mr. Matheson’s letter must not go without comment. It is entirely untrue, as he claims, that “every peer-reviewed study world-wide has consistently shown the same” as the Health Canada key findings.
Our Grey-Bruce Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Hazel Lynn found 18 peer-reviewed studies that “provide reasonable evidence . . . that an association exists between wind turbines and distress in humans”. Instead of disparaging Dr. Lynn we should admire and respect her for taking the trouble to listen to her constituents and speaking the truth. The Brown County (Wisconsin) Board of Health has taken the growing peer-reviewed evidence seriously enough to declare its industrial wind turbines a “public health nuisance” and a “human health hazard for all people (residents, workers, visitors, and sensitive passers-by) who are exposed to Infrasound/Low Frequency Noise and other emissions potentially harmful to human health”.
There are now dozens of peer-reviewed acoustical and medical research reports that contradict the key findings of the Health Canada study (which has not been peer-reviewed) warning that wind turbines, have a significant potential to cause adverse impacts on the people living nearby. Krough et al (2011), Shepherd (2011), Phillips, (2011), Hanning &. Evans (2012), Nissenbaum (2012), Walker (2012), Ambrose (2012), James (2013), Cooper, (2013), Schomer (2013), Enbom (2013); Kugler 2014, are just a few of the more recent ones.
So how did Health Canada manage to come up with findings so out of line with much of the most recent peer-reviewed research? Could this industry-led, government-supported study have been intended to pacify growing public concern and promote federal government policy– its “Wind Technology Roadmap”?
Already, epidemiologists, physicians and scientists have pointed out grave shortcomings and inconsistencies with the study’s conclusions as well as gaps and errors in methodology.
- Contradictions and biases affect its credibility. Unmentioned in the key findings: “The study did find wind turbine noise to be “statistically related to several self-reported health effects including blood pressure, migraines, tinnitus, dizziness, and disturbed sleep”. — Epidemiologist Joan Morris, Robarts Research Institute, London, Ontario.
- The noise “measurements” were in fact only “calculations”, “estimates” and “assumptions”, based on “predictive modeling” obtained from the turbine manufacturers. “It is known that calculated turbine noise is a poor predictor of measured turbine noise. There are other variables that influence the actual turbine noise such as wind-speed gradient, turbulence, upwind or downwind of the wind turbine, [and] temperature gradient. An average has no meaning”. –Dr. John Harrison, Emeritus Professor of Physics, Queen’s University.
- The low responder rate of only 1234 out of the 2004 dwellings selected “could easily compromise the validity of any conclusions drawn by the researchers as a result of selection bias”. — Denise Wolfe, professional auditor for drug trial analysis.
- Only 20% of the homes studied were “near” turbines; 434 dwellings were excluded as “not valid” (without follow up) because people were not at home, had abandoned their houses, or been bought out—possibly the ones most likely to report serious health effects.
- Homes up to 10 kilometres away were included, diluting the results from those nearby. “The choice of the circle size plays a major role in the result obtained and speaks volumes about the motivation of the author”. — Dr. Alex Salt, Professor of Otolaryngology at Washington University School of Medicine.
No, Mr. Matheson, the wind turbines did not shut down coal-fired generation. Nuclear units back on line, decreased consumption, and new natural gas plants (another fossil fuel) made it possible. When fossil-fuelled back-up is factored in, there are no appreciable CO2 savings from wind energy. Meanwhile, consumer subsidies for renewables in Ontario are pushing up hydro costs at an alarming rate, forcing more manufacturers (and jobs) to leave the province.
Canadian taxpayers will not be pleased to learn that Health Canada has spent over $2 million of our money without first making professional clinical observations based on the histories of actual sufferers.
Keith Stelling, Southampton
Ambrose S.E, Rand, R.W (December 2011), Adverse Health Effects Produced By Large Industrial
Wind Turbines Confirmed, The Bruce McPherson Infrasound and Low Frequency Noise Study.
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Cooper, S. The Measurement of Infrasound and Low Frequency Noise for Wind Farms (amended version). 5th International Conference On Wind Turbine Noise Denver 28-30 August 2013. Steven Cooper The Acoustic Group Pty Ltd, Sydney, NSW, 2040.
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James R. Opening Statement Nov 18, 2013 hearing. BluEarth Project, Bull Creek, Alberta.
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Kugler K, Wiegrebe L, Grothe B, Kössl M, Gürkov R, Krause E, Drexl M. 2014 Low-frequency sound affects active micromechanics in the human inner ear. R. Soc. open sci. 1: 140166.
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Phillips C. (2011) “Properly interpreting the epidemiologic evidence about the health effects of industrial wind turbines on nearby residents”, Bull. Sci. Tech. Soc. 31 303-315.
Salt, Alec N. and Lichtenhan, Jeffery T. “How Does Wind Turbine Noise Affect People? The many ways by which unheard infrasound and low-frequency sound from wind turbines could distress people living nearby are described”. Acoustics Today, A publication of the Acoustical Society of America, Vol. 10, Issue 1, Winter, 2014.