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Response to NHMRC Systematic Review and Draft Information Statement concerning wind turbines and adverse health effects  

Author:  | Australia, Health, Noise

The NHMRC have not invited public comments on the Systematic Literature Review, however as this document forms the basis for the NHMRC Draft Information Statement, the Foundation has looked at the Systematic Literature Review document closely and found serious cause for concern. Those concerns are outlined below.

We note that the document has been peer reviewed, however no details have been provided about the identity or qualifications of the Canadian Peer Reviewers, in particular their expertise and knowledge in the field of environmental noise, clinical medicine, acoustics, or research in related areas, and possible conflicts of interest, both disclosed and undisclosed.

That may explain why these issues were not detected earlier. …

  • General comments re exclusions
  • Excessive environmental & night time noise, & sleep disturbance
  • Is excessive noise an issue for residents?
  • “Annoyance” – what is it?
  • Kelley et al (SERI / NASA) Research – excluded
  • Animal studies – excluded
  • Human case studies – excluded
  • “Case series” studies – misclassified and excluded
    • Dr David Iser’s “case series” is really a population survey
    • Dr Nina Pierpont’s “case series” is really a case series crossover study
  • Exclusion of VAD research
  • Exclusion of other key studies
    • Qibai and Shi
    • Moller & Pedersen 2011 – “size matters”
    • Other confounders not mentioned
    • Other important issues – sensitisation
  • SA EPA & Resonate Acoustics study

Concluding remarks

What the 2014 NHMRC Systematic Review has clearly done is acknowledge that sleep disturbance, annoyance and reduced quality of life are confirmed by the data which was allowed to be included in the systematic literature review.

The Review has also highlighted the lack of objective evidence containing both full spectrum acoustic measurements and concurrent objective physiological data including sleep (EEG), blood pressure, heart rate and biochemical markers of physiological stress, such as cortisol conducted inside the homes of people reporting the new symptoms. No such studies have ever been conducted.

This sort of research in the homes of people reporting the new sleep and health problems, as well as in the laboratory was recommended “as a priority” in June 2011 by the Senate Inquiry chaired by Greens Senator Rachel Siewert. The research is long overdue, and it is pleasing that the current Federal Coalition government have committed to ensure it is conducted.

However, with respect to the Systematic Literature Review document, because of the serious issues raised above about the decisions made by NHMRC Literature Review Panel Members and the Systematic Literature Team members to

  • exclude relevant studies,
  • misclassify relevant studies, resulting in their exclusion,
  • fail to properly disclose conflicts of interest with Resonate Acoustics, and
  • fail to ensure balance and independence from the wind industry commercial interests in the acoustic data and opinion provided,

there are unfortunate consequences for the integrity of the document, and for the professional reputations of all those involved in its production.

Any Draft Information Statement prepared by the NHMRC on the basis of this dangerously incomplete Systematic Literature Review will be similarly dangerously incomplete and misleading, and governments who rely on it will not be getting the most accurate and up to date independent scientific advice they need to properly protect the health of their citizens, which they have an obligation to do.

The consequences for the residents who are suffering so greatly resulting from systemic regulatory failure of wind turbine and other environmental noise pollution are predictable serious adverse health effects, chronic exhaustion, and home abandonment.

The current situation is a national and international disgrace, and it brings considerable shame on those health and acoustics professionals who are involved in hiding the truth from government, from colleagues, and from fellow citizens.

“New” studies since 28 September 2012

  • Mechanistic evidence (evidence of mechanisms)
  • Direct causation evidence – wind turbine noise
  • Parallel evidence (other noise sources)

Sarah Laurie
CEO, Waubra Foundation
11th April, 2014

Download original document: “Formal response of the Waubra Foundation to the NHMRC commissioned Systematic Review and the NHMRC’s Draft Information Statement concerning wind turbines and adverse health effects

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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