OTTAWA – Health Canada says it will launch a national study into the possible relationship between wind-turbine noise and health problems reported by people living near wind-power developments.
The study, which the agency says will be complete in 2014, will focus on residents in 2000 randomly selected dwellings from communities located near eight to 12 wind-turbine installations across Canada. The exact locations have yet to be determined.
Participants will be interviewed by researchers and asked to provide blood-pressure readings. They will also be asked to wear devices on their wrists for seven consecutive days to measure sleep time and sleep efficiency, and submit hair samples, which contain cortisol, a biological stress marker. Noise levels inside and outside homes will also be measured.
The study comes “in response to questions from residents living near wind farms about possible health effects of low-frequency noise generated by wind turbines,” Federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq said Tuesday.
But for Gail and Ed Kenney, a couple whose home in Kingston, Ont., is within a kilometre from three turbines, the study is too little too late.
“Once the turbines are up, what do you do about your property value, your health and the invasion of your lifestyle?” Gail Kenney, 70, said. “You can’t turn off the noise, you can’t turn off the flashing lights.”
She and her husband say they have developed tinitis and have had trouble sleeping since the turbines, part of the Wolfe Island wind farm, were built in 2009. The Kenneys have also been fighting with the Municipal Property Assessment Corp. for the past three years over the assessed value of their home, which they say has decreased because of the nearby turbines.
Ontario Progressive Conservative MP Vic Fedeli painted the announcement of the study as a blow to Premier Dalton McGuinty’s ambitious green energy plans and called for an immediate moratorium of further wind power development.
“The fact the federal government feels this study is necessary is reason enough to put a halt to any more wind turbines being built in Ontario right now,” Fedeli said in a statement. “I’ve been to dozens of town halls across the province and have heard the painful stories of those who’ve reported these adverse health effects. Dalton McGuinty needs to do the right thing and implement an immediate halt to further wind power development in Ontario.”
An Ontario-government commissioned study conducted in 2010 concluded that there was no health risk posed by wind turbine sound if the structures are located 550 metres away from people’s homes – Ontario’s regulated setback distance. The study – a review that looked at more than 100 papers and reports – and found the province’s rules to control wind turbine sound, which can include a range of frequencies both audible and inaudible to the human ear, are “rigorous.”
David Butters, president of the Association of Power Producers of Ontario, said the Health Canada study may help put to rest some of the concerns held by the Kenneys and others like them.
“From everything we know, I’m not sure that it’s going to change anything,” Butters said. “Perhaps it will help to put to rest some of the concerns people have. We have to acknowledge that people have those concerns. If (the study) is helpful in addressing that and provided it’s done rigorously, what more can you say?”
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding