BY SHANNON DUFF, EXPRESS STAFF
ONTARIO — Health Canada has elected to study the possible connection between industrial wind turbine noise and adverse health effects.
Federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq stated July 10 the study, which will be conducted by Ottawa, “is in response to questions from residents living near wind farms about possible health effects of low-frequency noise generated by wind turbines.”
The Financial Post reports the $1.8-million study will start with residents in 2,000 residences near eight to 12 wind farms. Canada has about 140 of these types of installations, mostly in Ontario and Quebec.
Reactions to news of the study have been diverse.
Perth-Wellington MPP Randy Pettapiece came down on the Liberal McGuinty government for disregarding calls for a moratorium and concerns expressed by Ontarians.
“The McGuinty government is nothing short of negligent for ignoring the people who live near turbines,” he said in a release. “If the government isn’t going to listen to our constituents, they should at least wait for the results from the experts at Health Canada.”
Pettapiece pointed to the many letters he wrote to the Premier highlighting concerns from across Perth-Wellington. In recent weeks, Pettapiece has written to the Premier regarding resolutions from Perth East and North Perth. In addition, Pettapiece has made the Premier aware of a survey by the Elma-Mornington Concerned Citizens, a community group in North Perth, which found that 96 per cent of residents affected by the Invenergy turbine proposal are opposed to the project.
“The federal government is listening to our citizens on this issue,” said Pettapiece. “It’s time the McGuinty government started listening, too.”
Health Canada said the study would contribute to ongoing global research.
“Currently, there is insufficient evidence to conclude whether or not there is a relationship between exposure to the noise from wind turbines and adverse human health effects, although community annoyance and other concerns have been reported to Health Canada and in the scientific literature.
Toronto resident Sherri Lange is the CEO of North American Platform Against Wind Power. She said she hopes the study will be independent and conducted at arm’s length.
Lange says people, many of them farmers, claim to suffer ill health connected with industrial wind turbines. These problems include sleeplessness, depression and anxiety.
Up to 40 Ontario families have left their homes due to nearby turbines, Lange said.
“During the process of the study, they need to go and talk to these people as I have,” Lange is quoted as saying. “These are ordinary, hard-working people. They would not make up these stories in a million years. They’re trying to protect their land, their homes, their children, the legacy that they’ve built and received from their families.”
Registered nurse Jane Wilson, president of Wind Concerns Ontario, stated, “We have demanded health studies, we have demanded research to back up the province’s assertion that its setbacks are safe. And yet the province issued approvals for these projects with no scientific research to prove they were safe. Now, Health Canada’s admission that research is needed is confirming that.”
The Canadian Wind Energy Association president Robert Hornung stated in a release the study will contribute to scientific literature and knowledge.
“CanWEA supports the responsible and sustainable development of wind energy in Canada and we continue to monitor ongoing scientific research in this area,” he said.
Health Canada reports the study will include a number of components, including face-to-face interviews, physical exams, noise-level assessments, stress assessments and measuring sleep disturbance.
The Health Canada study is being designed with support from external experts specializing in areas including noise, health assessment, clinical medicine and epidemiology. The results of the study are expected in 2014.
The study design is posted on Health Canada’s website until Aug. 8, 2012, for public comment.