Grey Bruce Medical Officer of Health Dr. Hazel Lynn has reviewed the available literature and concluded that industrial wind turbines are affecting people.
Dr. Lynn presented her long-anticipated review of available literature about wind turbines and how they affect people at the Board of Health’s regular meeting in Owen Sound on Friday (February 22) morning.
A huge crowd was on hand for the meeting. Dr. Lynn and her chief researcher Dr. Ian Arra presented a comprehensive report that intensely studied the available data about industrial wind turbines and their relationship with people.
Their review of the literature concluded that every single report about industrial turbines concludes that none of the available studies found that there are no effects from turbines on human beings.
The report is a significant step towards showing that close proximity to wind turbines can lead to adverse health effects – as hundreds of turbine neighbours have been saying for years. Dr. Lynn said she received a request from the Ministry of Health for a copy of the report, based on media reports of its contents, even before it had been presented publicly. Their research on the matter included looking at 18 peer-reviewed studies on the subject.
“All the studies show there is distress,” Dr. Arra, said in his presentation. Dr. Arra helped Dr. Lynn research the matter. He is a medical doctor with a master’s degree in clinical epidemiology. “Not one, didn’t find an affect of distress (on people). All of these studies found there is an association,” Dr. Arra explained.
Dr. Lynn and Dr. Arra’s conclusions stopped short of saying the wind turbines cause negative health issues for people. They both said most of the available information is ascertained from lower level reports and studies. They said conclusive proof that turbines are the cause of the human distress associated with turbines could take years and more intense clinical studies.
“If you want to prove something you have to go through a very complex and tricky business. It might take five or 10 years. It’s a complex matter,” Dr. Lynn explained. In earlier media reports Dr. Lynn noted that it took medical experts decades to prove that smoking was a cause of heart disease – even though it was a well known fact much earlier.
The report suggested possible solutions to the problem including: keeping turbines away from residential areas, designing turbines that emit less noise and doing more research about ambient noise in an area before turbines are constructed.
“We do know if you move people away from wind turbines – especially the big ones, there is less distress,” Dr. Lynn said, and she said Australia is currently looking at a minimum setback from turbines of 10 km. Ontario currently allows turbines with 550 metres of residential areas.
The report from Dr. Lynn was little comfort to the many people in the audience living near turbines.
“Stop using us a guinea pigs,” one person shouted during the presentation.
“They’re making us ill, do something about them,” was another comment from the large gallery.
Grey Highlands resident Lorrie Gillis expressed some disappointment with the report.
“It’s more expert vs. expert. We’re missing the human element,” she said. “I already know that the people who are sick are telling the truth. They’re leaving their homes because it’s the only way to get healthier,” said Gillis.
Dr. Lynn said she feels a lot of empathy for the people living near turbines.
“I work for Grey Bruce. I live amongst the people that are distressed. I can certainly feel for some of their distress. They want more action. I get requests daily to stop these turbines,” she said, explaining that if she issued an order to stop turbine construction based on unproven medical data that it would never survive the appeal mechanism in place.