Huron County wind turbine noise investigation launched
November 11, 2017
Here is an excerpt from a report on the recent meeting in Clinton, announcing the launch of the Huron County public health investigation into wind turbine noise.
A few notes: as far as we are aware, the “study” is actually an “investigation” under the Health Protection and Prevention Act of Ontario, in which reports of adverse health effects may be reported and investigated. The only association with the University of Waterloo was the review by the ethics committee of that university — the university is not involved in any other phase of the project.
Wind Concerns Ontario had proposed to carry out Phase II of the study which would involve follow-up measurements in homes identified as problematic by the Health Unit, as part of a research study by a multi-disciplinary team. Although federal government funding was not achieved for that proposal, efforts to fund that initiative are ongoing.
This project is the first of its kind in Ontario; it was initiated based on reports of adverse health effects by residents of Huron County made to their health unit, and is supported by them.
For more information about the Huron County Health Unit project please visit the website here.
Huron County Health Unit launches wind farm study
By John Miner
ONTARIO FARMER November 7, 2017
Huron County’s on-again, off-again study on the health impact of wind farms is moving ahead with warnings from the researchers about what it can’t accomplish.
Even if the results in the end definitely show that wind farms are damaging the health of residents, the county’s health unit will not be able to order the turbines stopped, a public meeting was told.
“We do not have the authority to curtail or shut down wind turbines. If you are thinking of participating in the study in the hope that we will shut down the turbines, we want you to understand we cannot do that,” Dr. Erica Clark, an epidemiologist with the Huron County Health Unit, announced at the start of a public information session attended by about 60 people.
Courts have determined that Ontario health units do not have the legal ability to issue orders to protect public health in cases where the provincial government has given that responsibility to another body, Clark said.
In the case of wind farms, the government has given the power to regulate wind turbines to the Ministry of the Environment, not public health units, she said.
Dr. Maarten Bokhout: “If research indicates there are health issues, that can be raised with the Ontario government”
Dr. Maarten Bokhout, Acting Medical Officer of Health at the Huron County Health Unit, said while he cannot step on the Environment Ministry’s toes and he does not have the power to write orders against wind turbines, the results of the study will be published online, including interim reports.
The health unit’s one-year study, established in collaboration with the University of Waterloo and reviewed by the university’s ethics committee, will look at how people are annoyed by noise, vibration and light [shadow flicker] from wind farms.
The goal is to establish how many people are bothered by wind turbines in the county and determine if environmental conditions that make the noise, vibration light and sensations from wind turbines worse.
The study will rely on residents living within 10 km of a wind turbine who volunteer to keep a diary of their experience within their own home.
Participants are asked to record their observations at least once a week.
The researchers will not be making any actual sound or vibration measurements for the study.
Huron County is home to more than 300 industrial wind turbines and some of the largest wind farms in the province.
Some residents have blamed the turbines for a series of health problems, including headaces, nausea, dizziness and insomnia.
Clark, who is principal investigator on the study, said they want participation from both people who have been bothered by wind turbines and those who haven’t experienced any problems.
The 10-kilometre study zone around wind turbines means thousands of Huron County residents are eligible to sign up for the project, including all of the towns of Goderich and Exeter.
See the print edition of Ontario Farmer for a related story: Rural residents skeptical government would act on wind