Wind Concerns Ontario is a province-wide advocacy organization whose mission is to provide information on the potential impact of industrial-scale wind power generation on the economy, human health, and the natural environment.
October 5, 2016 — A new paper from acoustician Richard James and audiologist and professor emeritus Jerry Punch, just published in the journal Hearing Health Matters, confirms support for the idea that “acoustic emissions from IWTs [industrial wind turbines] is a leading cause of AHEs [adverse health effects] in a substantial segment of the population.”
The authors deal with 12 commonly held beliefs about wind power and health effects, promoted by the global wind power development industry, that do not support a connection between wind turbine noise and health problems. They conducted a comprehensive literature review, and review the findings of the most up-to-date studies, including the Cape Bridgewater study by acoustician Steven Cooper, which changed the language of wind turbine noise research.
A paper by Paul Schomer of the U.S. is quoted for example, and the authors conclude “some people affected by WTN [wind turbine noise] may be responding directly to acoustic factors, rather than to non-acoustic factors, as argued by Leventhall.” (page 21)
Canada figures in the paper with references to work done by Dr Roy Jeffery, Dr Robert McMurtry, and researcher Carmen Krogh, among others.
The authors wrote a ccovering letter for windaction.org in which they said,
Finally, let it not be said that either of us believes in making any less than the best possible effort to develop clean and efficient sources of energy. Rather, we hope that our article will be instrumental in promoting public health through a better understanding of the issues underlying the potentially harmful effects of audible and inaudible noise from industrial wind turbines when the turbines are sited too close to where people live and work.
Wind Concerns Ontario president at Huron County Board of Health meeting (Photo: Bob Montgomery, Blackburn News)
Wind Concerns Ontario was invited to make a presentation to the Huron County Board of Health in Clinton last week, to discuss partnership opportunities to advance a study of wind turbine noise emissions, building on the County’s own investigation process.
“This is the first research project, to our knowledge, that involves community groups, a public health unit, and a university,” said Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson.
Details of the project, which involves an association as well with the University of Waterloo School of Public Health and Health Systems, have been made available to members.
In sworn testimony at an environmental review tribunal, a Health Canada official confirmed industrial wind turbines — large, noise-emitting devices — are regulated by the Radiation Emitting Devices Act. So why isn’t it responding to hundreds of citizen complaints?
The federal government’s inaction on wind turbine noise is making Canadians sick.
It’s been a year-and-a-half since Health Canada’s $2-million study determined low-frequency acoustic waves from industrial wind turbines cause community annoyance.
According to the World Health Organization, unwanted noise, even at a moderate level, can lead to a myriad of adverse health outcomes, including stress-related symptoms such as sleep disturbance, elevated blood pressure, cardiac events and depression.
It’s a “green” form of radiation sickness.
Canada’s Radiation Emitting Devices Act (REDA) is supposed to regulate the design and operation of devices that emit radiation, such as microwave ovens and tanning beds. In sworn testimony at an environmental review tribunal, a Health Canada official confirmed industrial wind turbines — large, noise-emitting devices — are regulated by REDA.
REDA requires a manufacturer or importer of such a device to “forthwith notify the Minister” upon becoming aware its device is emitting radiations not necessary for the performance of its function.
On June 15, Barbara Ashbee of Mulmur, Ontario, together with hundreds of other Ontarians, sent an open letter to Health Minister Jane Philpott, asking why Health Canada has not insisted wind energy corporations report citizen complaints about noise radiation. She wants the minister to meet with her and representatives of citizens suffering from turbine noise radiations.
Ashbee wrote: “Many in Ontario and elsewhere have logged serious health complaints with proponents/operators of wind turbine projects, provincial and federal government ministries as well as wind turbine manufacturers … As previous ministers and current Minister Philpott have been informed, the adverse effects of wind turbines are not trivial.”
Access to Information records indicate wind energy corporations have reported no complaints.
Why is Health Canada not forcing wind turbine operators to report citizen complaints, as required?
Is the wind industry lobby that strong?
Why were Canadians not told wind turbine corporations are required to report citizen complaints to Health Canada? Were wind energy companies also not told about the REDA?
Why did Health Canada’s Wind Turbine Noise and Health study exclude people under age 18 and over age 79, the most vulnerable segments of Canada’s population?
Why do REDA regulations not include standards for the design and operation of wind turbines, as they do for microwave ovens, etc.?
Prior to the 2015 federal election, Canadians for Radiation Emission Enforcement (CFREE) asked candidates in wind turbine-affected Ontario ridings: “Will you support a moratorium on new wind turbines within 2 km of residences, until REDA regulations are updated to clearly stipulate wind turbine operators must comply with REDA, and to include scientifically proven safe setback distances?”
The survey revealed equal support from candidates of all four parties for a wind turbine moratorium. Only three candidates opposed it, but none were elected. In Ontario, the turbine setback is only 550 meters from residences.
Other countries are extending setbacks to safer distances. In Poland, the setback is now ten times turbine height. In closely settled Bavaria, it is now two kilometres. But there is no such action from Health Canada. No moratorium. No change in setbacks. No standards in REDA. More wind projects are planned. More Canadians are getting sick.
Openness and transparency are supposedly important to the federal Liberal government.
What will Prime Minister Justin Trudeau do about Health Canada’s inaction on wind turbines?
June 27, 2016, OTTAWA – Ontario needs to do a complete revision of procedures for wind turbine noise testing, Wind Concerns Ontario has informed the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) in a review of proposed regulatory changes.
According to WCO, the growing scientific research on wind turbine noise emissions and the escalating number of unresolved complaints confirm that proposed changes to the government’s old protocol are insufficient to address the problems faced by people living among wind turbine projects.
“The changes the Ministry has proposed to its existing procedures are nothing more than minor tweaks,” says president Jane Wilson. “The government is ignoring the need for real change to keep up with science, and to protect health from noise emissions.”
By 2015, the MOECC had received more than 2,700 complaints about problems with wind turbine noise, WCO learned. Though more recent data are not available, monitoring by WCO suggests that this number has continued to grow with the number of larger new turbines that have become operational since then.
Proposed new testing procedures are inadequate as they limit testing to audible noise outside of the home, while many citizen complaints relate to turbine noise emissions that people cannot hear, but rather, are vibrations or sensations that they feel, says WCO. And, while many complaints are about the noise and sensation experienced inside buildings, the MOECC only tests outside noise.
“The MOECC persists in the standard of using one form of noise measurement, the dBA, while the acoustics industry and even the Government of Canada has said this is providing only part of the picture on noise emissions,” Wilson says.
The process of confirming turbine compliance with regulations is convoluted and complex — people have lost trust in the Ontario government, WCO says. For example, the Enbridge project near Kincardine began operation in late 2008 but there is still no report that confirms the turbines are compliant.
The MOECC also relies on information from the power developers, and predicted modelling — not actual noise testing. This has resulted in a loss of faith in the Wynne government as a protector of public health.
Rather than dismissing resident complaints, WCO told the Ministry in a comment document in response to proposed regulatory changes, the government should view these contacts as an opportunity to learn and show leadership in responsible renewable energy implementation.
Wind Concerns Ontario is a coalition of community groups and citizens concerned about the impact of industrial-scale wind power projects on the economy, the environment, and health.
Contact Jane Wilson at email@example.com
“If government and the wind power development industry is using only A-weighted noise measurement or dBA, they are only getting part of the picture.”
“Wind turbines have been found out of compliance via third-party measurements, yet the MOECC does not act on these findings. The MOECC also does not report publicly on complaints or actions taken as it does for other complaints made to the ministry ‘Spills Line’. ”
“Using only computer-generated predictive noise models does not reflect the reality of wind turbine noise emission experiences in Ontario. The Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change needs to do actual, on-site testing in conditions similar to or the same as those that spurred a citizen complaint to assure Ontarians it is fulfilling its mandate to protect people.”
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.
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.
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.
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
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 …
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 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. …
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.
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.
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.
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”.