OWEN SOUND – Medical officer of health Dr. Hazel Lynn doesn’t want to talk about wind turbines anymore.
She wants to talk about heart disease – the biggest threat to the Grey-Bruce population’s health.
“If you look at my population, it’s still heart disease that kills us,” she said Friday after the public health board’s monthly meeting.
Last month, Lynn and researcher Dr. Ian Arra fanned the embers of the wind turbine controversy with their review of studies from around the world, concluding that there is an association between turbines and distress among people who live close to them. All of the studies they looked at were peer-reviewed, and their report of the latest and most credible research came at the behest of the Grey-Bruce Board of Health in response to a mountain of complaints over the years from people who live near wind turbines.
Lynn and Arra’s review has gone viral since it was presented to the board Feb. 22. Anti-wind groups have been touting it as evidence in their fight to stop the proliferation of the massive turbines. Lynn has been swamped with emails and requests for speaking engagements, and stories about the review have popped in publications around the world, including in China (China has the most wind turbines in the world).
“I’m trying to stay away from wind turbines,” Lynn said, somewhat tongue in cheek. “In fairness, most people in this area die from heart disease. And our biggest area that we’re not in line with the province is deaths by injuries and misadventure. So for me, that’s where I’d like to spend my time, helping people prevent chronic disease and improving our injury rate.”
Lynn has been a listener, even a champion, to those who’ve complained for years that the turbines were making them sick. She has said for a long time that she thinks there’s merit to their complaints.
However, there is still a long way to go before there’s definitive proof, she said, estimating it will be about 10 years “before we get the final answer. And we don’t even really know the exposure. We know that being close to a wind turbine development is a problem, but we don’t know if it’s the actual noise we hear, or is it infrasound? A bunch of people are gung-ho on it being the electrical connections. We don’t know, and if we’re not measuring the right exposure, it’s going to be hard to get the right answers.”
Lynn cautions that her review doesn’t prove causation between turbines and ill health, but it’s strong evidence of association.
“This proves an association. It was very consistent. We could not find a study that didn’t show an association. I think now to hone it down to who is at risk, who is most likely to be affected, and also what kind of dose is going to be acceptable or not acceptable, is next (to be studied) from my perspective of trying to protect people’s health.”
As much as Lynn wants to move onto other health topics, she’s not dodging the swirling controversy anytime soon.
The Health Unit has begun keeping a database of complaints about wind turbines as they come in, including from people who live outside the area. And Lynn and Arra are attempting to get their study peer-reviewed and published in reputable journals.
“To make it valid in a scientific way, you need other people who are experts to take a look at it and say yeah, this was done properly, this was done appropriately, the conclusions were logical,” Lynn said.
The literature report is being prepared for review now. The whole process is expected to take a few months.
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