HEALTH CANADA NOISE STUDY A MISSED OPPORTUNITY TO FIND THE TRUTH
Wind Concerns Ontario advises results summary and public pamphlet be withdrawn
November 25, 2014
On November 6, 2014, Health Canada released its long-awaited results of the $2.1-million, publicly funded Wind Turbine Noise and Health Study. Only, it didn’t: what was released in a whirlwind public relations effort was a summary of the study results—no data was presented, nor was there a full formal report, or a publication that had undergone the promised “peer” review, by scientists.
Wind Concerns Ontario immediately convened an expert panel to review the documents available (the summary plus a PowerPoint presentation, and basic study details available on the government website) and has produced a summary report of their comments. The panel consisted of several university professors with expertise in physics and acoustics, as well as an epidemiologist, and a health researcher.
The unanimous conclusion of the expert panel is that the study design was flawed; even so, there are clear findings of a relationship between wind turbine noise and adverse health effects.
Key findings from the review panel:
- Study summary was released prematurely, without a full report, expected peer review, supporting data or analysis
- Study design was to raise questions but Health Canada concludes inappropriately there is “no association” between turbine noise and adverse health effects; however, the study does find significant correlation between turbine noise and annoyance (an established adverse health effect)—these statements contradict
- Population sample used included people who were getting a direct benefit from wind power development including money
- A significant number of addresses were found to have vacant homes or houses that had been demolished—the reasons for this were not explored
- Work on infrasound and low frequency noise is completely inadequate, say acoustics experts. One hour averages were used (in summer, the season of low wind); also industry-sourced estimates of yearly averages were used in place of actual in-home noise measurement
- Numerous biases and other errors affect the credibility of some of the study results, as presented in the summary
As the stakeholder group in Ontario, a coalition of community groups and individuals concerned about the impact of industrial-scale wind power generation projects on human health, the environment, and the economy, Wind Concerns Ontario wishes to express its disappointment in Health Canada, which has as its goal the protection of the health of Canadians, using sound science.
Wind Concerns Ontario sent a letter today to the Minister of Health, the Honourable Rona Ambrose, together with the summary of our review panel comments, and a series of recommendations.
We recommend that:
- Health Canada should remove the summary findings from the Health Canada website in their current version
- Health Canada should release the final report only after it has gone through the normal peer-review process and been accepted for publication in a recognized academic journal
- Health Canada should return to the study areas and present the study findings in a series of public meetings, as befitting a publicly-funded research project
- Health Canada should rescind the “pamphlet” in its current form and if such a publication is deemed necessary, remove the claims about the “comprehensive” nature of the study, and further, affix the disclaimer more prominently.
Please read the full commentary document based on our review panel input here. WCO-HCanResponseFINAL
The following have given permission for their names to be released:
John Harrison, PhD (physics)
Kevin A Dooley, PhD, PEng (fluid dynamics, sound, vibration)
Denise Wolfe (health research)
Joan Morris, MHSc (epidemiology)
Ron Hartlen (Research, electricity utilities, infrasound)