According to the American Wind Energy Association and Canadian Wind Energy Association's joint panel review, Krogh said, sounds from wind turbines can cause annoyance and stress. This fact, Krogh said, has been acknowledged by the Canadian Wind Energy Association's president, Robert Hornung.
A dull buzz filled the small gymnasium of Amherst Island Public School on Sunday afternoon as more than 50 people gathered there to hear Carmen Krogh discuss the negative health impacts of wind turbines.
Krogh, a retired pharmacist who has held senior positions at a major teaching hospital and Health Canada, has spent much of the past three years volunteering her services to researching the health effects of living near industrial wind turbines. She is currently conducting Wind Vigilance for Ontario Communities, a self-reporting health survey, and she has formed the support network VOW, which stands for Victims of Wind.
In those three years, Krogh has met with and followed up with many of those in Ontario, as well as internationally, who claim to be suffering health issues caused by wind turbines.
Those in attendance at the information session came from across Amherst Island, where a 33-turbine wind farm has been proposed by developer Algonquin Power. The audience also included a number of Wolfe Island residents, who came to learn more about health effects from turbines, and to share their own experiences since the island is home to 86 turbines.
Krogh gave a Power Point presentation of slides, all looking at health definitions from agencies like Health Canada and the World Health Organization. The slides also gave information from a number of tribunals looking into the health effects of wind turbines across the country.
The underlying message of the presentation came down to the fact that, while the reporting of symptoms from those living in close proximity to windmills cannot be denied, it is still unknown what the mechanism is that causes the symptoms.
Krogh cited the World Health Organization as having defined “annoyance” as being a health effect.
“Clinically speaking,” Krogh said, “the body responds to annoyance.”
According to the American Wind Energy Association and Canadian Wind Energy Association’s joint panel review, Krogh said, sounds from wind turbines can cause annoyance and stress. This fact, Krogh said, has been acknowledged by the Canadian Wind Energy Association’s president, Robert Hornung.
Krogh also cited the recent Wind Turbine Noise Conference held in April 2011 in Rome, and some findings from renowned acoustician, Dr. Bennett Leventhal.
Krogh reported that Leventhal found the noise annoyance caused by wind turbines can lead to sleep deprivation, memory and cognitive issues, vertigo and dizziness, and, finally, heart issues like rapid heart rate.
Krogh said there is not much known on why this happens, noting the symptoms could be physiological, psychological or both.
“Regardless of the mechanism (that causes the symptoms), it’s still significant,” Krogh said.
“Whether it’s one or the other is not significant.”
Krogh also cited her own anecdotal evidence, collected from people in areas where wind farms have been built.
Krogh discussed reports of headaches, sleep disturbance and driving difficulties close to turbines, and those that the “whooshing” amplitude modulation is actually louder inside a house than outside. The latter, Krogh said, caused one family to actually pitch a tent on their front lawn to avoid the annoying sounds.
But it was Krogh’s story of a family who lived close to the Ripley Wind Power Projects in Huron-Kinloss Township in Bruce County, Ont., that surprised attendees most.
Krogh said the family was forced to move when a female member of the family, pregnant at the time, was told to do so by her doctor. According to Krogh, the woman had experienced several close calls with miscarriages, and her doctor felt it was best for her to leave the area.
This story drew gasps and disgusted sighs from the crowd, just before a lively question and answer period.
One Amherst Island resident asked Krogh what should be done from a health perspective before the turbines are erected. Following Krogh’s response of at least getting a baseline physical done beforehand so you have something to compare to, a distraught Wolfe Island resident took the microphone.
After introducing herself, Janet White offered up her personal experience.
White expressed that she and her family had taken the steps Krogh suggested, but that it was of little assistance, as there are currently no studies being done on how the turbines are affecting Wolfe Islanders’ health.
“We always talk about minimum set-backs of 550 metres. In our case, our neighbour’s closest turbine is about 980 metres away, but what’s overlooked is the fact that within two kilometres of that, we’re surrounded by 32,” White said.
“We’re not just dealing with the closest one, we’re dealing with the fact that we’re completely surrounded and flanked by turbines.”
White expressed concern for her two young children, and not knowing how their health was being impacted.
“We are lab rats in this green experiment, and nobody is studying my children. Nobody,” a passionate White said.
“I’m very, very offended by our government’s stance on this.”
Krogh expressed sympathy for White’s situation, and explained that one issue with studying adverse health effects is that of ethics. In order to study the impact, the subject would have to remain in their home, raising the ethical issue of risking further health effects.
White issued an appeal to Amherst Island residents just before the session came to an end.
“We need a champion that’s going to step up there and speak loud and clear,” White said, noting the Ontario government needs to address the concerns of those in the communities affected by approved wind farms.
“They don’t care about us – they want to play the odds that we’ll just go if we don’t like it, that we’ll just disappear somehow, and they’ll be left here with all this prime real estate, and some old windmills.
“They’ll have all of our land – All that land and property that you spent your whole lifetime to buy or to build so that you could have your final days in heaven,” White continued.
“They’re wrecking our heaven. Don’t let them do it.”
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