Thursday, July 19, 2012

Dear Health Canada - part II

From a long time friend of the blog who has written to Health Canada in the wake of news of their study on wind turbines, this letter below. He advises he has "absolutely no financial or corporate involvement in any wind project. My interest social, economic and environmental."

These are the kind of concerns I'm sure Health Canada will be hearing much more about. For submissions to Health Canada, comments are open until September 7th and you can find more information at this link.
18 July 2012

To: David S. Michaud
Consumer and Clinical Radiation Protection Bureau
Health Canada

Comment on Health Canada’s Wind Turbine Noise and Health Study Design

It is commendable that Health Canada is undertaking a study on wind turbine noise and health It is appropriate that Statistics Canada is involved to assist in providing balanced information. As the study guidelines appear superficial, these comments are made to improve the quality and acceptance of study results. My experience with wind turbines comes from examination of wind farms across Canada, Europe, Caribbean and Central America. I have no financial or corporate interest in any wind farm.

1. Misleading study title: For most residents living near wind turbines the whooshing sound is quite pleasant and is comparable to rustling leaves in a breeze or waves on a beach. The use of ‘noise’ in the study title prejudices the methodology and results.

2. Ontario Disease - As most of the health aspects of Wind Turbine Noise relate to complaints from Ontario residents, there is concern that situation is mainly an ‘ Ontario disease’ and that the study design could concentrate only on Ontario communities. There many operating wind farms across Canada operating for several years that should be included. Also, it would be helpful to evaluate the wind turbine experience in other countries producing 20% or more of the electrical needs.

3. Non-impacted Residents - For statistical validity residents in communities far away from any wind turbines should be included to provide a comparative base for study results and to eliminate social opinions and common ailments across Canada whether there are wind turbines or not. An identical questionnaire should be presented to those near a wind farm as well as those living far away.

4. Not a study of opinions - The evaluation of any health concerns due to wind turbines should be based on medical evidence with a physicians certificate in order to filter out the psychosomatic nocebo effects from an existing illness occurring without the presence of wind turbines.

5. Other continuous residential sounds - Measurements for wind turbine noise in a residence should be compared and evaluated with other continuous sound producing units such as refrigerators, air conditioners, fans, ticking clocks, TV and radios.

6. Type of Wind Turbine - As the sound effect of individual wind turbines varies greatly, the Health Study design should include both older and recent turbines, tall and short turbines and number of blades. Wind direction relative to a turbine and a residence is a significant factor.

7. Sound Modification: Where distant sounds are perceived to cause health problems, the study should evaluate simple corrections such as ear plugs, shutting windows and economical sound canceling devices.

8. Compare with other energy sources - The health effects of other electricity sources should be considered such as nuclear, coal, oil sands, natural gas and hydro.

9. Compare with other health problems - Compare with other health problems arising from alcohol, tobacco, air pollution and water pollution.

10. Population Balance - The age, sex and general health condition of the study respondents should be statistically balanced.

11. Legal Jurisdiction - As medical matters and energy production are a provincial responsibility, the study should provide justification for federal involvement.
Related: Dear Health Canada.