Canadian Federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq recently announced that Health Canada, along with Statistics Canada, will conduct a research study into whether or not wind turbine noise has a detrimental effect on human health and safety.
The study, with a cost of over $1.8 million and an expected release date sometime in 2014, will take a look at nearly 2,000 homes distanced between 500 meters (1,640 feet) and five kilometers (3.10 miles) from installations with eight to twelve turbines. There are nearly 140 such places spread throughout Canada, supplying 2.3 percent of the country’s electricity needs. Interviews will be recorded, blood pressure will be monitored, and sleep studies will be conducted by 25 experts in acoustics, health assessment and medicine.
Jane Wilson, who heads the group Ontario Wind Resistance, thinks the study is a great first step towards proving that wind turbines damage human health. “The symptoms that are being reported by people in Ontario are the same as those being reported around the world,” she said. “So there really is something there.” CEO of North American Platform Against Wind Power Sherri Lange supports the study as well. “The house vibrates, it becomes like a guitar. The noise and the vibration enters the home and it actually increases the effect,” she told CBC News.
As to be expected, wind industry folks don’t think anyone will find any connection between wind turbines and human health. Robert Hornung, president of the Canadian Wind Energy Association, said that “we believe that the balance of scientific evidence clearly shows that wind turbines don’t have an impact on human health,” adding that numerous reviews in the past backed up his claims. He does, however, welcome any new studies on wind energy. “Health Canada’s new study will contribute to the scientific literature and our knowledge base, and we appreciate the opportunity for stakeholders to review the draft methodology and study design and we look forward to undertaking such a review and providing our feedback,” he said.
In addition to industry members, even some government policy makers don’t expect anything from the report. The director of Queen’s University’s Institute for Energy and Environmental Policy Warren Mabee is among those who don’t see the correlation. “I don’t expect any big surprises in this report, because it’s been very, very difficult in the past to link conclusively cause and effect, to show that the turbines themselves are solely responsible for any kind of health impacts people are experiencing,” he said.
My unprofessional guess and opinion? They aren’t going to find too much, unless a resident happens to live directly underneath one and they are suffering from a lack of sleep because of the noise. That I can understand being annoying and detrimental to one’s health. I imagine most anyone living directly underneath anything other than their own roof would have a complaint. I have not seen nor read one credible study yet that pointed to wind turbines and turbine installations being any more detrimental than power poles or your everyday, run-of-the-mill power plants. While some people say that the turbines cause all sorts of terrible health maladies, I have a lot of doubts. I think we need to take into consideration the effect on our health if we don’t move away from burning fossil fuels to provide electricity; I think that’s much more dangerous path to continue on than the noise generated by a wind turbine.
Coal-burning power plants emit a ton of pollution, causing everything from asthma to cancer, both of which I believe are much worse than anything a bunch of spinning blades could ever cause.