Working alongside Dr. Mahtab Camali, the study will look at exposure assessment to low frequency and audible noises as well as vibration research using special instruments. Phase one includes the questionnaire and information gathering while phase two consists of bringing in a registered nurse and physician to head a field study.
HALDIMAND-NORFOLK – The University of Waterloo is about to embark on what they are calling an extensive study to discover the health effects, if any, of wind turbines on residents living nearby… all in our own backyard.
Researchers will be in the Haldimand and Norfolk area beginning next month to start handing out surveys to residents living near and far away from wind turbines, said Philip Bigelow, an epidemiologist and associate professor for the School of Public Health and Health Systems at the University of Waterloo.
“We’re going to be looking at symptoms people say they are suffering from and measuring noise emissions from the turbines,” Bigelow said.
First, the researchers will be conducting a census of the community by having them fill out a questionnaire where multiple questions about the conditions in which they are living in are asked.
“Unfortunately there’s a lot of built environmental stresses in where we live. Highways, for example, are noisy and ugly. Anytime infrastructure goes in there’s issues,” he explained, mentioning nearby construction sites, power sub stations, manufacturing plants and power plants can also determine a person’s health.
“It’s considered a bias survey if we don’t ask about other environmental issues like these.”
Working alongside Dr. Mahtab Camali, the study will look at exposure assessment to low frequency and audible noises as well as vibration research using special instruments.
Phase one includes the questionnaire and information gathering while phase two consists of bringing in a registered nurse and physician to head a field study.
“They will actually go talk to residents and administer a symptom and physical impact checklist … They will then do an assessment and collect some biological materials like saliva to look for biological stress,” Bigelow said, mentioning sleep studies are also part of the process.
He estimates to do an in-depth study on about 50 willing residents from all over the two counties.
Jill Steen, Manager of Public Health for the Haldimand Norfolk Health Unit, said the Board of Health, made up of councillors of Norfolk County, passed the resolution to conduct a study in the area on Tuesday Feb. 14, 2012.
Although not in attendance at the meeting, Steen said she believes localizing a study on wind turbines is a good initiative.
“We certainly feel it’s an important thing for the local citizens to be subjects in the research. We want some local research done in a real scientific manner to answer some of the questions that are out there.”
Haldimand councillor Tony Dalimonte, who also sits as the chair for the Health and Social Services Advisory Committee, said they became aware that the university was looking for a study area following a presentation by resident Stephana Johnson about the potential health effects of wind turbines.
“I don’t object to this at all. I say come down and contact any resident who says they are affected in a health standpoint.”
The study is being funded completely by the University of Waterloo.
Bigelow said what separates his university’s study from others is the fact they are coming into this with no preconceived notions.
“We don’t care what the results are. If there are health effects, that’s not a bad thing for us. We’re independent because it goes through the Council of Ontario Universities, not the provincial government.”
He said Haldimand and Norfolk are good places to do the study because there are numerous turbines already in place and because there are plans to install more of them. Bigelow said they will be comparing their results with surveys conducted across the province.
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