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Effects of noise exposure

Re: Breezy approach to wind-power facts, Aug. 16.

Kate Heartfield’s column appears to be focused on getting the facts right. The following should be of interest to Citizen readers.

The column reports that Ontario has a wind turbine “noise limit of 40 decibels.” However, Ontario wind turbine noise guidelines start at 40 but permit up to 51 (formerly 53) decibels (dBA).

Some individuals living in the environs of wind turbines report ad-verse health effects including annoyance and/or sleep disturbance and/or stress-related health impacts and/or reduced quality of life.

Peer-reviewed studies consistently demonstrate wind turbines produce sound which is perceived to be more annoying than transportation noise or industrial noise at comparable sound-pressure levels. Annoyance to wind turbine noise starts at wind turbine sound pressure levels in the low 30s and rises sharply at 35 dBA. Annoyance is acknowledged to be an adverse health effect. Chronic severe annoyance must be classified as a serious human health risk.

A 2010 Ontario Ministry of Environment commissioned report concludes sound from wind turbines, at the levels experienced at typical receptor distances in Ontario, is expected to result in a non-trivial percentage of persons being highly annoyed which can be expected to contribute to stress-related health impacts. Based on existing dose response curves wind turbine annoyance could be expected to exceed 20 per cent of the exposed population depending on exposure.

Research which included Canadian participants, defines the cluster of symptoms associated with wind turbines to include: sleep disturbance, headache, tinnitus, ear pressure, dizziness, vertigo, nausea, visual blurring, tachycardia, irritability, problems with concentration and memory, and panic episodes associated with sensations of internal pulsation or quivering when awake or asleep.

The American Wind Energy Association and The Canadian Wind Energy Association ” – established a scientific advisory panel -” and funded a literature review which acknowledges the above symptoms ” – are not new and have been published previously in the con-text of ‘annoyance’ to environment-al sounds -” and are the ” – well-known stress effects of exposure to noise – ”

An Ontario-based health survey, WindVOiCE documented similar symptoms in a 2011 peer-re-viewed article. This article was recently cited in the British Medical Journal. Some individuals exposed to Canadian wind turbine facilities who report adverse health effects have effectively abandoned their homes and/or negotiated financial agreements with the wind energy developer. Note: 21 references were cited and submitted to the Citizen to support the contents of this letter.

Carmen Krogh and Brett Horner, Killaloe, Peer-reviewed authors on health and wind turbines