Huron County considers partnership on health investigation

Blackburn News, June 3, 2016

Huron Considering University Partnership On Wind Turbine Study

A study being proposed by the Huron County Health Unit on the health impacts of wind turbines may take a new direction.

Health Board Chair Tyler Hessel explains the board had a few concerns about the study, including what they were going to do with the information they collected, and how much it was going to cost them.

Hessel says the University of Waterloo is working with Wind Concerns of Ontario on a study similar to the one the Health Unit was proposing, but it would go into more detail and so they’re exploring the possibility of partnering with the university.   That would give them access to a more scientific study done by a group with better human and financial resources.

They have invited a spokesperson from the university to speak at a future Health Board meeting to discuss a partnership.

Hessel adds his understanding is the university is looking at testing in specific areas and in specific homes and doing very detailed analysis.

Canada shines spotlight on wind turbine noise at world conference

Several speakers from Canada were invited to make presentations at the recent Acoustical Society of America (ASA) Spring Meeting. Speakers from around the world were present at the event, held in Salt Lake City, Utah, in the last week of May.

Health researcher and retired pharmacist Carmen Krogh delivered a paper co-authored with Ontario epidemiologist Jeff Aramini, titled “A case study in Canada: exploring research challenges of industrial wind turbines and health.”

The Krogh-Aramini paper stated that the topic of adverse health effects associated with industrial wind turbines (IWT) is controversial and debated worldwide. Some residents living in proximity to wind energy facilities report symptoms of sleep disturbance, annoyance, headaches, ear pain/discomfort, mood disorders, stress, cardiac and blood pressure effects, reduced quality of life and other adverse effects. In some cases, research initiatives have been the result of individuals’ complaints. The research is challenged in part by the complexities and numerous variables associated with this subject. A range of IWT research approaches, sometimes in combination with each other, has been used including self-reporting surveys, investigations and acoustical measurements.

Health Canada study not designed to find cause and effect

There are gaps in the research today, Krogh said. The $2-million study done by Health Canada was a large-scale, cross-sectional, randomized, epidemiological wind turbine noise and health study which the government department stated at the outset had limitations, would not be definitive, and would not permit any conclusions to be made with respect to causality. Krogh reviewed some of the inherent challenges of studying health effects associated with wind energy facilities and will consider the role of those individuals reporting adverse health effects. She identified several gaps in the Health Canada research. 

Dr. Michael Nissenbaum, now a professor in radiology at McGill University, presented a paper, “Industrial wind turbines and adverse health effects: Where we are, where we need to go, and the need for regulations and predictive models to recognize human physiology”.

Research over the past few years in several areas of human physiology has progressed, Dr.Nissenbaum said. We have begun to reveal “the mechanisms by which sleep disturbances result in adverse health effects, over both short and longer durations,” Dr. Nissenbaum said. However, he added, current government regulations have not kept up with the new learnings.

Regulations not current with research

“Local regulations regarding noise (Soundscape) limits and methods of measurement were designed prior to current understandings of human sensory and reactive physiology,” Dr. Nissenbaum said. “Instrumentation and modelling geared towards satisfying those regulations are by implication lacking because they do not capture or predict physiological responses to IWT noise. According to the principles of Soundscape, and given the subtleties of human physiology, humans remain the best instruments available for detecting objectionable noise and identifying adverse health effects. Regulations, measurement methods, and predictive models must adapt to current understandings of human physiology to best protect human populations.”

Research must begin with people, said Dr. Robert McMurtry, professor of medicine at Western University. His presentation, “Patient-Centred Medicine and Soundscape” focused on the need for care and research to start with people and their experiences with wind turbine noise.

“According to Bray (2012),” Dr. McMurtry said, “exposed people are ‘objective measuring instruments whose reports and experiences must be taken seriously and quantified by technical measurements’.” Health care providers need to consider applying patient-centred medicine in evaluating the impact on those exposed to wind turbine acoustical energy.

Dr. David Michaud of Health Canada also presented a paper, “An evaluation of how nightly variations in wind turbine noise levels influence wrist actigraphy measured sleep patterns” based on a study of sleep experience among over 250 people living between .25 and 1 km from a wind turbine. Michaud advised the audience that Health Canada is conducting a more refined analysis to assess wrist actigraphy measured sleep patterns regarding nightly variations in wind turbine operations. He also commented that some of the feedback relating to research gaps was valid.

A case study in wind turbine noise emission evaluation was presented by Andy Metelka of Acton, Ontario, principal in Sound and Vibration Solutions Canada Inc., in a paper “Measurements of infrasound blade pass frequencies inside multiple homes using narrowband analysis”.

Previous measurements in homes near wind turbines indicate higher pressure levels below 10Hz than audible pressure levels measured at the same time and location (ASA Vol 20, 2013 Dooley &Metelka), Metelka said. Long-term measurements of Infrasound pressures appear inside multiple homes as wind speed and wind direction vary. Metelka took data from four Ontario homes and compared broadband infrasound levels from wind to tonal infrasound Blade Pass Frequencies. In both cases broadband infrasound and blade-to-tower pressures increase with wind.

Other speakers at the international conference included Steven Cooper of Australia, who conducted the Cape Bridgewater study, and Paul Schomer.

Wind Concerns Ontario will provide links to the papers when they are available publicly.

Huron County citizens dismayed at health investigation stall

News Release

CONCERNED CITIZENS FOR HEALTH

Huron County Ontario/ May 18, 2016

Immediate Release

Rural Ontario is up in arms today over the apparent suspension of a one-of-a-kind wind turbine health investigation that may never happen.

Medical Officer of Health for Huron County Dr. Janice Owen became aware of numerous health complaints from people in her community shortly after she was hired a year ago by the current Huron County Board of Health. Owen began researching the issues last August and contacted many in the field researching the topic.

This February 4, Owen presented to her Board the outline and components of a wind turbine health complaints investigation stating that she had visited wind projects, sought information from the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change as well as Public Health Ontario and had spoken and heard from many members of the community.

In March this year the announcement of the new investigation was posted on the Health Unit’s website and immediately people suffering as a result of wind projects began to sign up. In April Dr. Owen was informed her services were no longer needed and she was put on administrative leave. This is a devastating blow to Huron County people exposed without consent to the acoustical emissions of wind turbines in proximity to their homes.

More questions than answers arose about the investigation’s future and were addressed on May 12 when the Board put the research on hold – likely permanent – stating that it seemed to be a duplication of a long term Ontario-wide public health survey with nothing to do with industrial wind adverse reactions.

“The people of Huron County do not want to become another Flint, Michigan. Health administrators and those tasked with the protection of our health and safety need to see this ground-breaking research through to the end,” says Gerry Ryan for the group Concerned Citizens for Health (CCH). “The eyes of communities around the world who are suffering the same fate as us are watching what happens in Huron County, Ontario. The wind industry is watching and the Ontario government whose policy this is are also watching.”

The CCH calls upon the temporary Medical Officer of Health Dr. Meriam Klassen to be courageous like Dr. Owen and find out where this investigation will take her. This is only fair.

Contact: Gerry Ryan

519 274-5566

gerkar@tcc.on.ca

The Unifor wind turbine: skirting the law on environmental noise

The Unifor wind turbine towers over a neighbourhood of 200 homes in Port Elgin. It would be illegal today. So far, the union has defied mandatory noise testing requirements, and ignored citizen concerns about the noise, and health impacts

2016-05-13-1463145763-2844419-CreditKarenHunter.JPG

Photo: Karen Hunter

Huffington Post, May 18, 2016

By Karen Hunter

Unifor, Canada’s largest private-sector union (formerly the CAW) owns and operates a wind turbine that generates revenue for the union through taxpayer subsidies. Plagued from its beginning by controversy and compliance issues, Unifor’s turbine continues to operate in defiance of mandatory noise audits and despite hundreds of noise complaints from families forced to live near it.

Unifor’s turbine is not only contentious, it should be illegal by today’s standards due to legislation that came into effect May 1st. But, it’s not the first time the turbine has had this problem. And, the union has always managed to solve it — with a little help from its friends in the Ministry of the Environment (MOE).

Unifor’s wind turbine is a square peg the union forced into a round hole. Located at their Family Education Centre (FEC) in the tourist community of Port Elgin on Lake Huron, the turbine sits in a sports field adjacent to the facility’s parking lot. The 35-storey, 800kw turbine towers over a neighbourhood of about 200 homes with some as close as 210 m.

The union chose the FEC location over a remote plot of 128 acres of undeveloped land it owned about a mile away because, President Ken Lewenza said (in the Shoreline Beacon, Dec.20/11), the undeveloped land was “economically or environmentally unfeasible.” No sooner was the turbine built, the union subdivided the undeveloped land into building lots and sold them for substantial profit.

The union’s decision to locate its turbine in a densely populated neighbourhood posed many legislative hurdles. But, none the union hasn’t been able to handle — at least, so far.

In 2005, when Town Council objected to the turbine’s location, the union took the case to the provincial municipal board (OMB) and got the rejection overturned.

When noise modeling analysis showed that the turbine’s noise would exceed provincial standards for a rural community (making it illegal), the union and the MOE agreed to classify the rural neighbourhood as semi-urban to accommodate the increased noise. The turbine’s noise problem was solved. But, not for long.

Soon after, the MOE issued new legislation focused on health and safety, requiring turbines of its height and power to be located a minimum of 550 m from homes. Again, the not-yet-built turbine would be illegal. However, the MOE agreed to grandfather the union’s turbine approval certificate, exempting the turbine from the mandatory 550 m setback. The union had dodged another bullet. But, the turbine wasn’t yet in the clear.

New noise assessments on the turbine (due to the union’s decision to upgrade it to 800kw) showed it would again exceed provincial noise standards. Once more, it was illegal. This time, the union said …

Read the full story here.

Huron County health board pauses turbine noise health investigation

The claim that it might duplicate another study being done by Ontario is false: the Ontario Health Study is a general population study aimed at factors in health and chronic disease—it has nothing whatever to do with reports of health impacts from wind turbine noise. But everything to do with a Board that wants to make a political decision…

Huron Health Board claims duplication with a study that has nothing to do with wind turbine noise.
Huron Health Board claims duplication with a study that has nothing to do with wind turbine noise.

London Free Press May 16, 2016

Huron County has hit the pause button on plans to investigate health complaints by its residents about industrial wind farms.

Due to start this month, the probe of the impact of wind turbines by Huron County Health Unit has been put on hold by its board of health.

Bluewater Mayor Tyler Hessel, who chairs the board, said Monday the board wants to check with the province to ensure the work by the health unit doesn’t duplicate other efforts. No decision has been made to drop the probe, Hessel said.

“It just doesn’t make sense to duplicate. We are waiting for information to come back . . . We don’t want to get into duplication because we can’t afford to at a small level. We don’t want to get into a situation where we are throwing money away,” Hessel said.

Ontario is undertaking a health study and the Huron health board wants to know if wind turbines will be part of that work, Hessel said.

But the head of Wind Concerns Ontario, a coalition of anti-wind farm groups, said the health unit has a legal obligation to investigate possible health hazards.

“As a registered nurse, I was frankly shocked at the way this board is trying everything it can to squirm out of its responsibility to the citizens under its care. I would expect them to listen to reports of problems, and then do whatever they can to help,” said Jane Wilson.

Huron County is home to more than 250 industrial wind turbines, with more under construction.

Some residents have complained at public meetings that noise from the turbines has caused sleep problems, anxiety and nosebleeds.

In announcing the study on its website, the Huron County health unit said the investigation was in keeping with its legislative duty to investigate potential health hazards to area residents.

Just as the investigation was to launch, the area’s medical officer of health, Dr. Janice Owens, was relieved of her duties by the health board.

Declining to provide details behind the departure, Hessel rejected suggestions by wind farm opponents Owens’ departure was connected to the probe and said the study would go ahead.

Owens has not responded to a request for comment.

At the health board meeting last week, where it was decided not to go ahead with the study immediately, a draft of the health unit survey was presented. …

Read the full story here.

WIND CONCERNS ONTARIO COMMENT

Given the rising number of complaints related to wind turbine noise and health impacts, such as sleep disturbance, the Huron County Board of Health has a responsibility to follow up and investigate these reports under the Health Protection and Promotion Act, Part III.

The Ontario Health Study is a long-term study of determinants of health that lead to disease and chronic conditions such as diabetes—it is NOT related to wind turbine noise in any way. There is no “duplication.”

Any decision to halt the investigation and refuse to follow up on citizen concerns will be a political decision, not one based on the Board’s responsibility to the people under its care.

Big Wind attacks new Australian wind turbine noise study

“A waste of time and money”

The Guardian, March 22, 2016

An Australian research council has given two grants worth $3.3m to research the impact of wind turbines on human health despite concluding last year there was no evidence turbine noise was harmful.

Prof Anne Kelso, the chief executive of the National Health and Medical Research Council, said it had made the grants because “existing research in this area is of poor quality and targeted funding is warranted to support high-quality, independent research on this issue”.

A Flinders University associate professor, Peter Catcheside, will get $1.36m for a study that will compare wind farm noise to traffic noise to determine if low-frequency sound from wind farms could potentially disturb sleep through chronic sleep disruption or insomnia.

In February 2015 the National Health and Medical Research Council concluded there was “currently no consistent evidence that wind farms cause adverse health effects in humans”.

But it noted “the character of the emissions and individual perceptions of them are highly variable”.

“Given the poor quality of current direct evidence and the concern expressed by some members of the community, high-quality research into possible health effects of wind farms, particularly within 1,500 metres, is warranted,” it said.

The council then made a targeted call for research into wind farm noise and human health.

Kelso said: “These grants directly support the Australian government’s commitment to determine any actual or potential effects of wind farms.”

The Australian Wind Alliance’s national co-ordinator, Andrew Bray, said the grants were a waste of time and limited research funding.

Bray said: “The NHMRC’s own review failed to find reliable evidence that wind farms have a negative impact on health.

Bray said exhaustive international studies had also failed to find links between health and wind farms, including a $2.1m study by Health Canada that studied 1,200 households and measured 4,000 hours of wind turbine noise to calculate indoor and outdoor noise levels at different homes in the study.

The Australian Solar Council CEO, John Grimes, said claims of negative health impacts from wind turbines were “the worst pseudo science nonsense” and had been “completely discredited by reputable medical bodies here and around the world”.

Read the full story here.

Huron County to probe wind turbine health impacts

First health unit in Ontario to conduct investigation: "if it impacts the health of a community, it's in our jurisdiction"
First health unit in Ontario to conduct investigation: “if it impacts the health of a community, it’s in our jurisdiction”

“We’re treating it as a potential health hazard as if it were a food [poisoning] outbreak or a cancer cluster” — Huron County epidemiologist Dr Erica Clark

Ontario Farmer, March 15, 2016

By Frances Anderson

(reprinted with permission)

Clinton -The Huron County Health Unit is launching an online survey for residents a suffering in the shadow of industrial wind turbines.
Erica Clark, the Health Unit’s epidemiologist, said the survey will be tested in April, and the goal is to launch the survey in May.”
“We’re treating it as a potential health hazard investigation… exactly as if it were a food disease outbreak or a cancer cluster” Clark explained in an interview.
“The health unit’s mandate is population health, so if it’s something that impacts the health of a community, it’s our jurisdiction.”

And, she added “to my knowledge, we’re the first health unit that’s started this investigation.”
The health unit couldn’t act in advance of the impacts, Clark said, but there are now 270 turbines in the county, and another 50 “coming soon!” With the turbines up and running, health complaints from residents, di rect ly, and through the Facebook pages of health unit staff, have flooded in.
“It’s got to be exhausting,” said Clark. “Some of the emails I get come in two or three times a day.”
This has helped the health unit create a complaint tracking form that is the basis of the survey.
Clark spoke to Ontario Farmer after a presentation to the County’s Board of Health, by Jeanne Melady and Gerry Ryan. They reviewed health impact statements from residents from 26 properties, reporting negative effects ranging from sleeplessness, nausea and nose bleeds, to tinnitus, chest pain and vertigo. Melady herself used to live in St. Columban, but has since relocated to London. She noted there is little protection for residents from the Ministry of the Environment, which sets the regulations that turbines must meet.
The only place the Green Energy Act references health is the Environmental Review Tribunal, but this requires proof of impact before the turbines are built.
Melady also noted that the wind power lobby got rules regarding infrasound, which is outside the range of audible sound but may impact health, removed from regulations because they knew this was an issue.
So, the only recourse left is an appeal to the provincial Health Protection and Promotion Act which governs the Health Units and requires investigation of something that is harming human health.
About 60 residents crowded into the board meeting to support Melady’s presentation. Among them were Rosemary Pentland and three of the oldest of her seven children. They farm north of Nile – “at the start of the red light district” she says, wryly, referencing the blinking night lights that warn airplanes away from the airspace around the K2 project.
“I’ve told Huron County that they need to be held accountable,” she said.
“I have a wind turbine just past 550 feet away,” she told Ontario Farmer. “I have had an ear ache, and tinnitis ever since they first flicked the switch,” she said.
The children’s symptoms range from headaches to ear aches, and one of the youngest has had daily nosebleeds.
“I want to go where there’s no projects,” said Pentland, but it’s not so simple to move a farm.
One has to go a long way to get away from turbine impact warns Ruth Stauttener. She lives 10 km away from the nearest turbines but “is still subject to the sound of a dull motor,” even after she and her husband turned off every device in the house.
“Earplugs make it worse,” she said. “Atmospheric conditions have a lot to do with it…. It was worse in the fall.”
The intent of the health unit survey is to track the effect of turbines on human health over time, and seasons, as weather seems to have major effect.
The survey format is being streamlined. Residents wanting to participate will call the health unit to register their name, age, and location, and situation within the turbine complex, then will be given a personal code to attach this information to their ongoing reporting of sumptoms.
And, while individual’s information will be kept confidential, the information will be aggregated and Clark has committed to analyse it seasonally and publish the results. “It will be a public document,” she said.
“We’ll be looking at the pattern…. using the information from this first phase to inform the next steps.” ” A Medical Officer of Health has the authority to make orders to protect human health. No one has yet ordered wind turbines halted or adjusted to accommodate human health in Canada, Clark said. “Right now we don’t have evidence that will pass that test.”
“We need better information,” she said. “The survey is a key step.

WWW.ONTARIOFARMER.COM

WIND CONCERNS ONTARIO NOTE: Huron County residents interested in participating in the survey, this note is from the Health Unit: Registration for the investigation will be available on the Huron County Health Unit website, www.huronhealthunit.ca. We will not be contacting anyone about the investigation until after the online complaint tracking form is launched in May 2016. Huron County residents who do not have internet access will be able to register for the paper version of the survey by calling the Huron County Health Unit at 519-482-3416.

Please note that only Huron County residents will be able to participate in the wind turbine investigation.

Eastern Ontario wind farm contracts a ‘betrayal’ municipalities say

3-MW wind turbine and house near Brinston: 'engagement' didn't mean 'approval'. [Photo: Ray Pilon, Ottawa]
3-MW wind turbine and house near Brinston: ‘engagement’ didn’t mean ‘approval’. [Photo: Ray Pilon, Ottawa]
Ottawa Citizen, March 11, 2016

The Ontario government has betrayed rural municipalities by approving new wind farms in places that have explicitly voted against them, mayors say — including just east of Ottawa.

“Since we declared ourselves unwilling hosts, we thought we had it made,” says François St. Amour, mayor of The Nation Municipality. “Because there was some talk in the last provincial election that they would honour municipalities that declared themselves unwilling. But I guess that was just another electoral promise.”

The agency that makes the province’s deals for renewable power is readying a contract for a 32-megawatt wind farm there, one of a bunch of bids from private generating companies it’s just accepted. The other in Eastern Ontario is the biggest of the group, a 100-megawatt project in North Stormont.

Both Eastern Ontario councils took votes in 2015 to say they did not want the wind farms on their territories.

The province’s Green Energy Act, meant to kickstart an Ontario industry in manufacturing and maintaining renewable energy technology, gave virtually no say to local governments on where wind and solar farms might go. Many rural residents believed, and still do, they’re being sacrificed for the electricity needs of cities.

The government pulled back. Under the province’s new rules, municipalities don’t get veto power over renewable energy projects but they do formally get asked to say whether new wind or solar farms are welcome or not. Ottawa’s city council regularly votes its formal support for small solar projects, which is worth extra points when would-be operators submit their bids.

“It will be virtually impossible for a wind turbine, for example, or a wind project, to go into a community without some significant level of engagement,” energy minister and Ottawa MPP Bob Chiarelli told a legislature committee in 2013.

“Engagement.” Not “agreement.”

“We will not give a veto, and no jurisdiction gives a veto, to a municipality on any kind of public infrastructure. That should have been clear to them,” Chiarelli says. Wind farms in rural Ontario are like tall buildings downtown, he says: immediate neighbours may hate them but they’re still needed.

Thirteen of the 16 new contracts got local council approval. All of the ones that didn’t are wind farms — the two here and one in Dutton-Dunwich, between London and Windsor, where residents took the issue up in a referendum and voted 84 per cent against. Two wind farms are going to Chatham-Kent, whose council voted to support them.

“They’ve put municipalities on the sidelines. It seems, though, that municipalities get most of the grief,” St. Amour says. His council first voted in favour of the wind farm in The Nation without a whole lot of thought, he says, treating it like the solar farms councillors have welcomed in the past. Councillors changed their minds after hearing from residents.

“It was rough on council last summer. It was really, really rough. Especially because we can’t do much about it. We thought declaring unwilling hosts was it,” St. Amour says.

Mayor Dennis Fife of North Stormont says his council thought the same. “At one time, the government said that if you came out with something saying you were an unwilling host, that would be respected, but that wasn’t the case,” he says.

Read the full story here.

High electricity bills, energy poverty behind municipalities’ call for no new wind power contracts

Ontario is paying too much for wind power, and it doesn’t help the environment anyway, says the Wainfleet Resolution. Reports of health effects worry Wainfleet Mayor.

Erie Media, March 4, 2016

Image result for image Wainfleet wind farm

51 Ontario Municipalities endorse resolution

The Township of Wainfleet has gained support from 51 other municipalities in Ontario who have endorsed the Townships resolution calling on the Ontario government to not award more Feed-In-Tariff contracts for power generation from wind.

In a press release issued by the Township of Wainfleet, “The resolution was based on December’s Auditor General Report which reported that Ontario has a surplus of power generation capacity and, under existing contracts, is paying double what other jurisdictions are paying for wind power.  Adding more surplus generation capacity would add to the already high costs of disposing of surplus electricity.”

According to the release, the cost of electricity is a concern for Ontario residents, straining household budgets and it states that the Ontario Chamber of Commerce noted that high electrical costs are affecting their members’ ability to grow their business which will affect their ability to create jobs in Ontario.

“This suggests the need for a full, cost-benefit review of the renewable energy program before committing Ontario electricity users to even more surplus power,” the release says.

“This quick response from other municipalities to the circulation of the resolution indicates that wind turbines are still front and centre as an important issue in rural Ontario,” said Wainfleet Township Mayor April Jeffs in the Wainfleet Township release.

It continues on to say that Mayor Jeffs is reporting that citizens reports of deteriorating health is a cause for concern, the reports coming in since the beginning of operations for one of the two projects in Wainfleet.

“We did have a family come to us before Christmas and had reported that they were suffering many health effects from the wind turbine near their residence,” Mayor April Jeffs said in a follow up interview. “The main complaint was sleep deprivation caused by infrasound created by the turbine.”

Since the complaint, the family has since sold their house in Wainfleet and moved to Port Colborne.

Jeffs pointed out that Huron County Health Unit has now begun an investigation into health complaints from industrial wind turbines in their community. They will be surveying resident’s complaints of several symptoms including headache, ear pressure, nausea, anxiety, pressure in the head, bloody nose, heart palpitations, high blood pressure, vertigo and sleep disturbances.

“Appropriate long term health studies weren’t done before putting the things up, now they are there and people are noticing problems,” Mayor Jeffs said. …

Read the full story here

 

Huron County Health Unit to launch investigation of wind farm noise complaints and health

This announcement is from the Huron-area community group, Huron East Against Turbines (HEAT).

March 4, 2016
 
TO:                  All concerned
 
FROM:            Area-wide Concerned Residents of Huron County:
                     Jeanne Melady, Gerry Ryan, Patti Kellar, Carla & Mike Stachura
 
SUBJECT:      Huron County Health Unit –  Health Concerns from IWT’s
                 
On March 1, 2016, the Huron County Health Unit stated it will investigate the concerns of residents regarding potential health effects of wind turbines, in keeping with their legislative duty to investigate potential population health hazards.
 
      The Health Unit plans to launch an online and paper survey in May 2016.
 
      information from the survey will help the HCHU decide the next steps to investigate concerns.
 
      Health Unit staff will present their action plan to the Board of Health as part of a report in April, 2016.
 
The HCHU made this decision as a result of correspondence from numerous residents of Huron County to the Huron County Health Unit (HCHU) describing negative health impacts from living close to Industrial Wind Turbines (IWTs).  
 
A delegation had been formed to make a presentation to the Huron County Board of Health on March 3, 2016.  As our delegation was requesting information and the decision by HCHU to proceed with the health investigation, the HCHU scheduled two meetings on March 1, 2016.
                                                                                                                       
The first meeting on March 1, 2016, the HCHU met with Carmen Krogh to further discuss the complaint tracking form that was developed with Public Health Ontario in the fall of 2015.  Dr. Clark and Carmen Krogh have been working together since introduced by Safe Wind Energy for All Residents (SWEAR) in 2014.
 
Later the same day, the HCHU – Dr. Janice Owen (Medical Officer of Health),
Dr. Erica Clark (epidemiology) and Jean-Guy Albert (environmental health) met with
Jeanne Melady, Gerry Ryan, Carla and Mike Stachura.
 
At the meeting, the HCHU detailed their plan to implement an investigation on health complaints from Industrial Wind Turbines. 
 
The following is a synopsis:
 
Phase 1 – The health unit is developing a survey to track wind turbine complaints. 
Carmen Krogh and Tanya Christidis (University of Waterloo) are involved in developing the survey. A small number of affected individuals (5-10) will have input into the survey development during the pilot testing phase in April 2016.
 
The survey will be available electronically (using FluidSurvey) and also as a paper survey. The survey is expected to launched in May 2016. Those wanting to participate will need to register with the health unit first. The initial interview will be done by Dr. Erica Clark and/or additional health unit staff members.
 
Note: Information provided on this survey is owned by the individual.  This means that the health unit cannot share individual responses without permission from the person who provided those responses.  If a person wants to withdraw from the investigation, they have the right to ask the health unit to delete all of the information he/she provided.  Only aggregate (grouped) data will be published.
 
Registering will involve answering an initial series of questions including age, gender, address, health conditions that existed before the IWTs were turned on, how many IWTs are visible from the house, etc.  These initial questions will not be part of the wind turbine complaint tracking.  After completing the survey, individuals will receive a personal code known only to them.  When they enter information into the complaint tracking survey, they will use their personal code so that they do not need to enter information included in the initial interview. 
 
When an individual is experiencing negative impacts, they complete the survey online or on paper.  The survey can be accessed without the code; however, there will be a question that asks for the code.  The personal code is a substitute for answering questions about name, gender, age, address, etc. every time the survey is completed.  
 
The survey will consist of “tick” boxes and a 1-5 “Likert” scale. The survey should take less than 10 minutes to complete.  It will include weather conditions, noise description (i.e. whining, whooshing, wooing, thumping, crashing, whumping, swooshing, tonal sound etc.), the health complaints being experienced at that moment for example – headache, ear pain/pressure, tinnitus, nausea, anxiety, pressure in the head and chest, bloody nose, heart palpitations, high blood pressure, vertigo, sleep disturbances including quality and quantity of sleep, shadow flicker etc.  
 
Resident’s will be encouraged to complete a survey each time they are experiencing negative health impacts.  This could be up to several times a day if the weather is changing etc.  
 
Resident’s that do not have access to the internet will be provided paper forms to complete that will later be entered into the system. 
 
Information will be gathered for each person for a year.  This is necessary because negative health effects are often dependent on seasonal weather patterns. 
 
Data will be analyzed seasonally to determine trends. The process will be open and transparent and results will be made available to the public on a seasonal basis.  
 
The HCHU will be attempting to determine patterns of when and under what conditions people are experiencing difficulty. 
 
Phase 2 – Analysis of the phase 1 results will help the HCHU determine the next steps of the investigation.  The health unit stated next steps may include acoustical testing of both audible noise and infrasound inside and outside of homes of agreeable participants.  The details of phase 2 are still being developed so there is no further information available on phase 2 at this time.
 
Dr. Owen stated that the HCHU’s mandate does not include setting up a medical referral centre or designating a referral physician; however, Dr. Owen is aware that Carmen Krogh is making inquiries on that issue.  If a physician is found that is willing to take referrals, area physicians could refer people to him or her for further testing.
 
 
Timeline:
 
The HCHU will require two “point people” from the “health affected resident group” to communicate with committed residents willing to participate in the development/ testing phase of the survey. 
 
HCHU expects the initial draft survey will be completed by the end of March.
 
HCHU will need a committed group of 5-10 people to “test” the survey beginning in April.     
 
HCHU expects a final version of the survey to be available by May 1st and to begin a long term/full year investigation by May 1st.
 
Note: HCHU inquired as to the best method to find participants.  Interested individuals can contact the HCHU @ (519) 482-3416 or email @ hchu@huroncounty.ca
We also discussed press releases, news media, radio, newspaper, door to door, flyers in the affected area, various email lists, and the HCHU website.  
 
This is the first county health unit investigation, in Ontario, regarding industrial wind turbines, where the affected resident’s health complaints will be tracked long term.
 
Note:  Dr. Owen stressed that this is NOT a research study.  It is an investigation. It will not prove causality. The HCHU is required to do an investigation when there appears to be a community environmental health issue.  Due to the number of complaints the HCHU is receiving from the community, they believe they must do an investigation. The Health Unit is not making a judgement on wind turbines with the survey. They are only investigating whether there is a potential population health hazard.
On March 3, 2016 Jeanne Melady and Gerry Ryan made a presentation detailing the health effects being experienced by Huron County residents.  Statements of 26 households were displayed on a screen.  There were over 80 people in attendance. It was standing room only. This board meeting is rarely attended by the public.
On March 3, 2016, The Huron County Board of Health voted: “to direct staff to prepare a report regarding the presentation by “Concerned Citizens of Huron County” about concerns of health complaints by Huron County citizens exposed to Industrial Wind Turbines”.