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Request for health assessment  

Author:  | Health, Massachusetts

The Falmouth Board of Health requests that Mass DPH immediately initiate a health assessment of the impacts of the operation of wind turbines in Falmouth. This appeal is compelled by two years of consistent and persistent complaints of health impacts during turbine operation.

We realize that this is an atypical health assessment study. The suspected agent of harm is not a food borne, waterborne, or airborne contaminant. Yet, the Wind Turbine Health Impact Study recently completed by the State suggests certain elements of wind turbine operation propagate to health impacts potentially as harmful as those caused by organic agents.

To assist Mass DPH in the identification of health effects and potential study subjects, the Falmouth Board of Health held a hearing on May 24th, 2012, at which we accepted further testimony from those individuals in our community who believe they are experiencing negative health impacts from the operation of three turbines in Falmouth. We have attached a summary [below], received testimony, and a map of respondents. We are appealing to the Mass DPH to conduct this study due to its ability to collect and analyze confidential health information.

Due to the increasing intensity of the reported health impacts, the Board is considering emergency actions. To determine the appropriateness of such actions, the Board requests immediate guidance on interim measures to protect the health of affected individuals while the complete health assessment is being conducted.

We look to your Department, as that which holds the highest duty to protect the health of the citizens of the Commonwealth, to assist us in this matter. Accordingly, we request a meeting at the earliest possible time with you or your staff We are certain that once you have read the attached testimony that we received, you will appreciate the urgency and need for such a meeting. That meeting can be coordinated through our Health Agent, David Carignan.

Falmouth Board of Health
Gail Harkness, Chairman
Jared Goldstone
Stephen Rafferty
George Heufelder
John Waterbury

To:
Ms. Suzanne Condon
Associate Commissioner
Massachusetts Department of Public Health
250 Washington Street, 7th Floor
Boston, MA 02108

June 11, 2012

Cc:
Falmouth Board of Selectmen
Mr. Julian Suso, Falmouth Town Manager
The Honorable Therese Murray, The State Senate, Boston, Massachusetts
The Honorable David Vieira, Massachusetts House of Representatives
The Honorable Timothy Madden, Massachusetts House of Representatives

Download original document: “Falmouth Board of Health letter to Massachusetts Department of Public Health

(((( ))))

Oral and written testimony on wind turbine effects were submitted to the Board at a public hearing on May 24th, 2012, and further written testimony was accepted during the following week (until May 31st, 2012). Additional complaint reporting has been ongoing since April 2011, and is summarized separately. The testimony from May 2012 represents 63 individuals, and includes 47 individuals with self-reported health effects. Only written testimony is included in the following analysis.

The submitted written testimony is included in this package of data, and summarized in the tables below. Table 1 describes the number and type of testimony submitted; Table 2 summarizes the health effects; and Table 3 defines the health effects categories. The summary data is derived from a spreadsheet analysis of the written testimony, also attached.

The major health effect reported was sleep deprivation (85%) with attendant stress (53%), mental health problems (45%), hearing problems (32%), cognitive difficulties (25%), and other effects, summarized in Table 2 below.

Table 1. Number and type of testimony submitted

Total number of testimonies submitted 58
Testimonies not meeting criteria for hearing 1
Total number of valid testimonies 57
Number of people represented 63
Testimonies with health effects 41
People with health effects 47
Testimonies with no health effects 15
– People employed at Technology Park 12
– People who live near Wind 1, Wind 2 3

Table 2. Number and percent of people with health effects by specific category of health effect

Category Number (Percent)
Sleep deprivation/fatigue 40 (85.1%)
Stress 25 (53.2%)
Cognitive difficulty; Decreased memory, concentration 12 (25.5%)
Hearing problems; Pressure, tinnitus, pain 15 (31.9%)
Headache 11 (23.4%)
Mental health problems; Depression, mood disorders, anxiety 21 (44.7%)
Systemic symptoms; Increased BP, P, palpitations 10 (21.3%)
Difficulty with spatial relationships; Vertigo, loss of balance 6 (12.8%)
Eye problems 3 (6.4%)
Difficult interpersonal relationships 2 (4.3%)
Thoughts of or attempted suicide 2 (4.3%)
Have symptoms; requested interview 6 (12.8%)
Total number with health effects 47

Table 3. Spreadsheet category definitions
Self-reported symptoms from attached testimony were categorized using the following definitions to produce Table 2.

Category Definitions
Effects (yes/no)
Sleep Disturbance, deprivation, waking up at night
Stress Mentioned stress in dialog
Cognitive Decreased memory, decreased concentration, confusion
Ear symptoms Pressure, tinnitus, throbbing
Fatigue Tiredness (combined with sleep)
Headache Pressure in head, headache
Anxiety (combined with mental health)
Spatial relationships Clumsiness, vertigo, balance problems
Eye Burning, dry
Mental health Depression, mood disorders, (anxiety)
Inter-personal relationships (IPR) Separation, difficulty with people
Suicide Thoughts, attempted
Nausea Vomiting (combined with systemic symptoms)
Better Better when out of geographical area
Interview Have health effects, requested DPH confidential interview
Other Decreased property values, need to leave home, need to sleep in basement or elsewhere, inability to enjoy property

Download original document: “Falmouth Board of Health – Health Effects of Wind Turbines – Hearing Summary

Wind turbine complaints by location (click for larger size)

Falmouth (Mass.) Board of Health Turbine Hearing, May 24, 2012

Also see:  Nina Pierpont interviews Falmouth, Mass., wind turbine syndrome victims – September 2011

This article is the work of the author(s) indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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