Wind farm opponents on Health Canada study: doesn’t coalesce with reality

Wind turbine opponents question results of Health Canada study

Patrick Raftis, Wellington Advertiser, November

WELLINGTON CTY. – Wind turbine opponents are questioning the results of a federal study on wind turbine noise and health impacts that concludes there is no evidence of a link between exposure to turbines and a wide range of adverse health effects.

The two-year, $2-million Health Canada study, released on Nov. 6, concludes there is no evidence to link wind turbine noise to self-reported illnesses such as dizziness, tinnitus and migraines, or chronic conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure or diabetes. Likewise, no association was found between exposure to turbine noise and measures of stress such as blood pressure and heart rate.

Health Canada states the results also show no indication of a connection between turbine noise and self-reported or measured sleep quality.

“While some people reported some of the health conditions above, their existence was not found to change in relation to exposure to wind turbine noise,” states a summary of the study posted on the Health Canada website.

The study did find an association between increasing levels of wind turbine noise and “individuals reporting to be very or extremely annoyed.”  The study also found wind turbine annoyance to be “statistically related” to some health effects, including “perceived stress.” …

Wind Concerns Ontario (WCO) president Jane Wilson said her organization is not surprised by the study results.

“They always said from the beginning that it was just going to be a view of what was going on in Canada and they had hoped to, and I think they say that, add to the global pool of information on wind turbine noise. So they did that, and they did find some health effects,” Wilson said in a telephone interview on Nov. 7.

“The disappointment for us is they haven’t said explicitly … that they’re going to continue to monitor the situation and they have not said that they are going to be doing more research.

“We would have thought, given the level of concern in Ontario in particular, and the fact they did find over 16 per cent of people with problems, that they would have pledged to kind of keep going on this.”

Wilson said the study results conflict with the information her organization is receiving.

“We’re hearing weekly, if not daily, of people having to leave their homes and people having health problems … You look at this paper and those two things don’t necessarily coalesce as two realities.”

Wilson said wind power is costing Ontarians in other ways, some of which can lead to health impacts. She said it’s costing billions of dollars to produce “surplus” power utilizing wind turbines and that’s impacting people’s wallets.

“As electricity bills are going higher and higher, people are feeling poorer and there are actually some people we know who are saying ‘I have to make a choice between paying the heating bill and buying the amount of food that I’d like to.’ So we’re looking at that as a very serious economic impact of wind power in particular,” said Wilson, adding the link between poverty and health is obvious.

“Clearly if you are not able to pay for certain things, then that’s going to affect your health.”

She said WCO has already convened an expert panel to review “this study and whatever else we get from Health Canada,” and will be delivering comments back to the government agency within a few weeks.

David Hurlburt, vice-president of Oppose Belwood Wind Farm, says members of his group “weren’t too surprised” by the study findings.

“You know the political implications of all this is quite significant,” said Hurlburt. “We can’t understand how they arrive at these conclusions from the findings they got.

“We’re disappointed with their conclusions obviously, but we are encouraged by the findings around this whole thing of annoyance,” said Hurlburt, noting 16.5% of survey subjects in the Ontario portion of the study reported they were “highly annoyed” by wind turbines.

“To the common person I guess that doesn’t sound significant, but the high level of annoyance is actually recognized by the World Health Organization as an adverse health effect,” Hurlburt continued.

“The bottom line to all of this, especially in Ontario … They’re just putting these turbines too close to homes, it’s as simple as that, and that’s borne out in the study,” he said, explaining the study indicates the further the turbines are from homes, “the less the annoyance and less the implications.”

Hurlburt said linking annoyance, health effects and proximity to turbines in the study is advantageous to his group’s aims.

“Our message from our group and other groups in Ontario has got to be that if you’re going to build these turbines, place them further away from people’s homes. Our recommendation is two kilometres, but this report really supports at least one kilometre and currently Ontario’s got 550 metres as their setback, which is not enough.”

 

Read the full article here.

Wind farm noise study politics, not science says professor

Health Canada "study" ignores reality of wind turbine noise, favours industry profits
Health Canada “study” ignores reality of wind turbine noise, favours industry profits

Elliot Ferguson, Kingston Wig-Standard, November 12, 2014

KINGSTON, Ont. – One of the key experts backing opposition to a wind energy development on Amherst Island said a recent Health Canada study is more politics than science.

John Harrison, a Queen’s University professor emeritus in physics and a member of the Association to Protect Amherst Island, located near Kingston, Ont., said the report contradicts itself and was not peer reviewed.

In a report released last week, Health Canada said there is no link between noise from wind turbines and adverse health effects.

Health Canada scientists looked at communities that host wind farms. Two dozen government, academic and industry experts contributed to the study.

Researchers examined 1,200 participants living within 2 km of wind turbines in Ontario and P.E.I.

Scientists found that while some residents living near wind turbines noted some indicators of stress — sleep disruption, headaches — there was nothing to indicate those stressors were the result of the wind turbines.

Harrison pointed out that the report later states that annoyance caused by the noise from wind turbines is linked to sleep problems, illness, stress and quality of life.

“I can’t help, as a scientist, to link those together and say annoyance increases with the noise, health effects increase with the annoyance, so health effects must increase with the noise.”

Harrison also criticized the report, which is a summary of conclusions reached by a larger study, for not including the scientific data the study collected.

Harrison said he originally supported Health Canada’s research plan, called the release “premature.”

And the lack of scientific data makes it impossible to have it reviewed by other scientists, he said.

“This is political. This is political because the provinces want to build turbines. This is political because the provinces want the wind energy companies to build them and use their own money.”

Harrison also took exception to statements in the report that he says are either not supported or attributed to any scientific research or too general to mean anything.

“Something as fuzzy as parts of this summary would never make it through the peer review for a reputable journal,” he said.

Read the full story here.

Health Canada wind farm study a “slap in the face” to Ontario

Health Canada HQ: once a protector, now industry collaborator?
Health Canada HQ: once a protector, now industry collaborator?

The Manitoulin Expositor has published an article today on the Health Canada turbine noise study (which becomes more problematic with the analysis being done on it each passing day), repeating the federal government claims that no link was found between turbine noise and health effects (but omitting the government statement that “the study did demonstrate a relationship between increasing levels of wind turbine noise and annoyance”.

Read the full article here.

The leader of the Manitoulin Coalition for Safe Energy Alternatives*, Ray Beaudry, was interviewed for the article. His comments:

In a Monday interview with The Expositor, Ray Beaudry, president of the Manitoulin Coalition for Safety Energy Alternatives Inc., called the study “a slap in the face of the people who are suffering.”

He said the study seems to be industry-led due to what he calls the push for turbines by the government, noting that the study participants did not include those “forced out of their homes” from ill health due to turbines.

“It hasn’t been researched by peer reviewed articles either,” he said. “It’s just a summary, not fully reviewed.”

Mr. Beaudry said his family has filed 41 noise complaints citing vibration, amplitude, grinding gears and high pitched noises, to name just a few of the disturbances, none of which have been answered by the Ministry of Environment.

“It’s the mandate of the government to push these things through,” he added.

Wind Concerns Ontario has convened an expert panel to review the findings, and will report soon.

 

Dr Hazel Lynn on the Health Canada study: leaving people out makes no sense

Hazel Lynn
Janice MacKay, Blackburn News, November 10, 2014
The Chief Medical Officer of Health for Grey-Bruce has concerns about the Health Canada wind turbine study.
Dr. Hazel Lynn says, for one thing, the study did not include people who moved away from wind turbines.
She says, “when you look at some of the surveys that have the most specific information it’s the people who are so distressed they have to move away that actually are the most sensitive to these things. So to exclude them from a study doesn’t really make sense to me.
Lynn says a more conclusive study would look at the health of a population in an area where turbines are planned, before the wind farm goes into operation, and after the turbines start to turn.
Lynn says like tobacco, it may take many years to prove turbines cause illness.
Dr. Hazel Lynn says it also studied people who lived at 600 or more metres from turbines, when the turbine setback in Ontario is 500 metres.
 The Health Canada study did not link turbines to health problems, but also said that the results don’t permit causality conclusions.

Wind Concerns convenes expert panel on Health Canada study

Following the release of the Health Canada preliminary, non-peer-reviewed summary of the results of its Wind Turbine Noise study on November 6, Wind Concerns Ontario has convened an expert review panel, and will provide comments on the study as soon as further material has been received from Health Canada, and our panel has a chance to review.

In the meantime, the fact is the goal of the study was never to produce an opinion on a causal relationship but simply to “add” to existing research on wind turbine noise and health effects. “It is important to note,” Health Canada says in its public information, “that the results from this study do not provide definitive answers and should be considered along with the other research available…”

The Wind Concerns Ontario review panel consists of several university professors, a physicist, a medical doctor, nurses including a Nurse Practitioner, and specialists in acoustics.

Medical Officer of Health: more study needed

Opinion from a doctor in the turbine zone
Opinion from a doctor in the turbine zone

Grey-Bruce Medical Officer of Health Dr Hazel Lynn commented Friday on the Health Canada turbine noise study, saying ” much more” work needs to be done, but the “preliminary” results show significant “annoyance” which, the doctor says, should properly be termed “distress.”

Wind Concerns Ontario asked Health Canada in a meeting Friday whether more research was planned and the answer is no: the raw data and the instruments used in the study will be available (for a fee) via Statistics Canada for others to do further research.

Here is the interview with Dr Lynn:

Those who move away not part of study

Rob Gowan, Owen Sound Sun-Times, November 7, 2014

Dr. Hazel Lynn says an important segment of the population has been left out of a Health Canada study into the impact of industrial wind turbines on peoples’ health.

The Health Canada study, released Thursday, found no link between wind turbine noise and negative health effects in people. But Lynn, the medical officer of health for Grey-Bruce who has done a review of such studies, said some of the best survey findings are from the people who have moved away because they simply couldn’t live near turbines.

“These folks are still living there so obviously they are not in that 10% of people who actually abandoned their homes,” Lynn said of those who participated in the study.

“Although the wind folks would pooh-pooh those people (who have moved away) as being especially difficult, I think they are especially sensitive and if you are living in a place where you are afraid to go to sleep at night then you are going to move. Obviously this study didn’t pick up any of those folks.”

The study by Health Canada of more than 1,200 households living near industrial wind turbines concluded there was no evidence to support a link between exposure to wind turbine noise and adverse ill effects including dizziness and migraines, chronic illnesses such as heart disease and high blood pressure and decreased quality of sleep.

The study did find there was a relationship between wind turbine noise and annoyance towards several features associated with turbines including noise, vibration, shadow flicker and the warning lights on top of them.

More than 400 properties approached for the study were deemed not valid dwellings. David Michaud, a research scientist at Health Canada and principal investigator in the study, said they were deemed not valid for various reasons.

“(Statistics Canada) would visit an address and find out in some cases it could have been a church or could have been an industry, it could have been a vacant home and it could have been a home that is being constructed, so those are considered to be out-of-scope homes because they are not valid addresses for the purpose of this study,” said Michaud.

“If somebody has potentially left their homes because of wind turbines, we would have no way of knowing that in a study like this.”

Health Canada partnered with Statistics Canada for the study, which was launched in 2012 and cost $2.1 million. It included three parts – a questionnaire done by participants; a collection of physical health measures that assessed stress levels using hair cortisol, blood pressure, resting heart rate and measures of sleep quality; and more than 4,000 hours of wind turbine noise measurements conducted by Health Canada.

All potential homes within approximately 600 metres of a wind turbine in 12 study areas in southwestern Ontario and six in Prince Edward Island were selected to participate, as were a random selection of homes between 600 metres and 10 kilometres.

One person between the age of 18 and 79 years of age from each household was randomly selected to participate.

Lynn called the study results preliminary and questioned many of the conclusions.

“I would like to see the study design, I would like to see what kind of actual statistical significance their study population would have,” said Lynn.

“There is lots of stuff I need to know before I can say this is a well-done study and we can be confident in what it says as a conclusion.”

Lynn said the Health Canada study will not be the last on the subject and that it will take much more work before the true impact of wind turbines on peoples’ health will be known.

“It is going to take years and years as it did with any environmental exposures and illness to actually prove it or not prove it,” Lynn said. “You don’t know until the studies are done properly and you can get enough of them.”

In 2013, Lynn and epidemiological researcher Dr. Ian Arra released a review of studies from around the world on wind turbines and people’s health. They found “reasonable evidence that an association exists between wind turbines and distress in humans.”

Lynn said the measurement used in her review was distance from wind turbines, not noise level, which was used in the Health Canada study, although some of the studies she and Arra looked at made conclusions based on noise levels.

Lynn said the Health Canada study defined annoyance as very or extremely annoyed, which she said is not a definition. In her review they used the term “distress.”

One area Lynn had expressed particular interest in was infrasound exposure, adding she would like to see more work on the effects of the very low frequency sound emitted by turbines.

The Health Canada study found infrasound from the turbines could sometimes be measured up to 10 kilometres away, but was in many cases “below background infrasound levels.”

“The levels of infrasound measured near the base of the turbine were around the threshold of audibility that has been reported for about 1% of people that have the most sensitive hearing,” according to the study findings.

Health Canada intends to further analyze the infrasound data and release results throughout 2015.

“We are still looking at the data set and doing some more analysis with respect to the acoustic information that was collected,” said Michaud. “Our ongoing work wouldn’t change what we posted (Thursday).”

 

Brown County WI: Shirley wind farm is a health hazard

nbc26

Health Board Says the Shirley Wind Project is a Health Hazard

By Eric Crest. CREATED Oct 17, 2014

GLENMORE, WIS- This week the Brown County Health Board went on record declaring that wind turbines “are a human health hazard.”

Folks living in the Glenmore area near the Shirley Wind Project have been saying this for years though, and now they have the health department on their side. By state statute wind turbines can be within 1250 feet of a home. The Brown County Board of Health says that’s too close for comfort. But Duke Energy, the company that owns the Shirley Wind farm disagrees.

Glenmore farmers won’t touch this topic with a ten foot pole. But Audrey Murphy the Chairman of the Brown County Board of Health says it’s her duty. “We didn’t take this lightly this was a serious thing and we all struggled with it,” says Murphy.

Potential lawsuits and good neighbor agreements signed with Duke Energy is keeping most people silent around the wind farm. So Brown County is doing the talking for them. “It’s not so much that we’re trying to get information out there we’re trying to help those citizens because they’re impacted by wind turbines,” says Murphy.

After several local and national studies the health board made one of the first decisions of its kind in the country. They have declared that the Shirley Wind Project is a human health hazard. “Ear pain, ear pressure, headaches, nausea, many are suffering from sleep deprivation,” adds Murphy. Today Duke Energy released this statement saying: “A third party scientific test has already determined… That they could not document any link between turbine noise and adverse health impacts.”

The Brown County Health Board alleges however that these turbines are emitting acoustical energy too close to homes. They are waiting for the next step when the Director of the Health Department makes an appointment with the corporate council to decide how to proceed from here.

Read the full story and watch the video from NBC news here.

Read the noise study at the Shirley wind project here.

UK journal: wind farm infrasound may cause hearing damage

The Royal Society

“physical composition of inner ear drastically altered…”

The Telegraph

October 1, 2014

Camilla Turner

Living close to wind farms may lead to severe hearing damage or even deafness, according to new research which warns of the possible danger posed by low frequency noise.

The physical composition of inner ear was “drastically” altered following exposure to low frequency noise, like that emitted by wind turbines, a study has found.

The research will delight critics of wind farms, who have long complained of their detrimental effects on the health of those who live nearby.

Published today by the Royal Society in their new journal Open Science, the research was carried out by a team of scientists from the University of Munich.

It relies on a study of 21 healthy men and women aged between 18 and 28 years. After being exposed to low frequency sound, scientists detected changes in the type of sound being emitted from the inner ear of 17 out of the 21 participants.

The changes were detected in a part of the ear called the cochlear, a spiral shaped cavity which essential for hearing and balance.

“We explored a very curious phenomenon of the human ear: the faint sounds which a healthy human ear constantly emits,” said Dr Marcus Drexl, one of the authors of the report.

“These are like a very faint constant whistling that comes out of your ear as a by-product of the hearing process. We used these as an indication of how processes in the inner ear change.”

Dr Drexl and his team measured these naturally emitted sounds before and after exposure to 90 seconds of low frequency sound.

“Usually the sound emitted from the ear stays at the same frequency,” he said. “But the interesting thing was that after exposure, these sounds changed very drastically.

“They started to oscillate slowly over a couple of minutes. This can be interpreted as a change of the mechanisms in the inner ear, produced by the low frequency sounds.

“This could be a first indication that damage might be done to the inner ear.

“We don’t know what happens if you are exposed for longer periods of time, [for example] if you live next to a wind turbine and listen to these sounds for months of years.”

Wind turbines emit a spectrum of frequencies of noise, which include the low frequency that was used in the research, Dr Drexl explained.

He said the study “might help to explain some of the symptoms that people who live near wind turbines report, such as sleep disturbance, hearing problems and high blood pressure”.

Dr Drexl explained how the low frequency noise is not perceived as being “intense or disturbing” simply because most of the time humans cannot hear it.

“The lower the frequency the you less you can hear it, and if it is very low you can’t hear it at all.

“People think if you can’t hear it then it is not a problem. But it is entering your inner ear even though it is not entering your consciousness.”

Read the full news story here.

Ontario: insult to injury over the environment

The Ontario government published a news release today in which it claimed it is helping communities “restore” the environment, and also that complaints to its “Spills Line” are being responded to and resolved.

This is a cruel joke for those Ontario communities watching the destruction of the landscape, the altering of waterways and killing of wildlife for the sake of highly invasive wind power generation facilities. Ontario residents are told that if they have a concern about excessive noise they are to call the Ministry of the Environment Spills Line. Those who do, are less than satisfied with the response. The reports from the community on the noise from turbines is NOT included in the Ministry’s annual report on calls made to the Spills Line. There is no transparency or accountability—this has been made clear in various Environmental Review Tribunals, where Environment staff have actually testified that if the computer modelling supplied by the power developer says it “isn’t possible” for a turbine to make noise above a certain level, then they don’t even check the complaint.

Worse, the legislation has been written in such a way that noise complaints will never result in government action.

Here is the news release:

Helping Communities Restore and Protect the Environment

Ontario Supporting Community-based Environmental Projects

Ontario is using penalties collected from environmental violations to fund 12 community projects to restore and protect the environment.

Projects include restoring river banks by planting native trees and plants, protecting ecosystems from invasive species and undertaking environmental health assessments.

The Ontario Community Environment Fund supports environmental improvement projects in the watershed where a violation happened. Environmental penalties are issued to industries that have spilled a contaminant into the environment or that did not comply with regulatory requirements.

Protecting our watersheds is good for the environment and good for the economy and is a key part of the government’s economic plan to invest in people, create jobs, build modern infrastructure and support a dynamic and innovative business climate.

Quick Facts

  • Applications are now being accepted for the next round of Ontario Community Environment Fund grants. Applications for funding will be accepted until November 5, 2014.
  • In 2013, $113,781.20 was collected and added to the Ontario Community Environment Fund.
  • Eligible groups can apply for more than $161,208 available across 15 communities where penalties were collected.

Quotes

Glen R. Murray

“The Ontario Community Environment Fund invests in communities. It builds capacity for our schools, municipalities, conservation authorities, First Nations and Métis communities to take action to improve the environment in areas where a spill or violation has happened.”

Glen R. Murray

Minister of the Environment and Climate Change

Contact the Ministry here.

Reports may be filed with the Ill Wind Reporting website here.

Road construction Manitoulin Island (courtesy Ray Beaudry)
Road construction Manitoulin Island (courtesy Ray Beaudry)

Wind farms and radar:Environment Canada posts map showing effect

What’s the weather going to be today? Any major storms on the way? Well, in the western portion of Ontario, where hundreds of wind turbines have already been built and still more are on the way, it will be tougher for Environment Canada to track weather systems, due to interference from the turbines.

Environment Canada has now posted a map to indicate the degree of interference at its Exeter radar station. See the map and full information here.

This map shows a view of the Exeter weather radar located at coordinates 43.37199° latitude and -81.38056° longitude. A circle is defined around the radar with a radius of 50 km. There is also a coloured region indicating the locations where a turbine is visible to the radar. As well, major cities and roads are shown. An explanation on how to view this map can be found in the section “How to view the map”.