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Opponents welcome study of wind farms

Opponents of wind farms are hailing Health Canada’s decision to study the possible connection between noise generated by the towering turbines and adverse health effects reported by people living close to them.

Federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq announced Tuesday that Ottawa will conduct the study, which “is in response to questions from residents living near wind farms about possible health effects of low-frequency noise generated by wind turbines.”

The $1.8-million study will initially focus on residents in 2,000 dwellings near eight to 12 wind-turbine installations. There are about 140 such land-based wind farms in Canada, most of them in Ontario and Quebec.

Sherri Lange, CEO of North American Platform Against Wind Power, said she is encouraged to see the federal government is finally undertaking a study on the safety of wind turbines. “I hope it will be independent and at an arm’s length” from the government, said Lange, whose opposition to wind farms began with a fight to stop a proposed installation of the energy-producing towers in Lake Ontario, offshore from her east Toronto neighbourhood.

The study is being conducted by a team of more than 25 experts in acoustics, health assessment and medicine, including four international advisers.

“This study will contribute to an area of ongoing global research,” Health Canada said.

“Currently, there is insufficient evidence to conclude whether or not there is a relationship between exposure to the noise from wind turbines and adverse human health effects, although community annoyance and other concerns have been reported to Health Canada and in the scientific literature.”

Lange contends that exposure to low-frequency noise and vibrations from wind turbines can lead to sleep disorders, headaches, depression, anxiety and even blood pressure changes.