Conversations surrounding the Huron County Board of Health’s investigation into industrial wind turbines (IWT) are ongoing. Most recently Jane Wilson, President of advocacy group Wind Concerns Ontario, gave a presentation to the board on August 4.
In March, the board had posted an announcement on their website about a study they planned to carryout regarding the health impacts of IWTs, and people began to sign up. However several months later, they paused the study. They said they were unsure of the costs of the endeavor and were concerned they didn’t have the resources to ensure the study was done effectively and is actionable. Not long after, the staff member who was to carry out the study was let go.
This caused ripples through the community and was particularly upsetting for individuals who were strongly advocating for this study to happen.
During the board’s June meeting, the board discussed a potential opportunity to partner with the University of Waterloo (UW) for a study. This was again a strong theme at the meeting on August 4, and two professors from UW were present at the meeting.
Wilson explained that Wind Concerns Ontario is a coalition that is concerned about IWTs’ effects on the economy, natural environment and human health. She gave a ten-minute presentation covering a variety of areas including conclusions of other studies and gaps in other studies and various kinds of noise, both audible and inaudible, and how they affect people.
She also explained more about what a study with UW would look like.
Wind Concerns would do the community outreach and the fundraising, and UW would provide the contracted professionals to do the actual noise measurement. The department they are looking to work with from UW is the School of Public Health and Health Systems.
“We aim to keep costs to a minimum,” said Wilson. “The funding for this project will be done through funding and donations.”
Wilson said to the board that the minimum involvement they are looking for from them is access to the noise complaints they had already received from people in Huron County. The board had set up a place for people to submit confidential complaints, and Wilson said these are the kinds of people they would like to contact to ask for their participation in the study. So the board would have to reconnect with the people who sent in the complaints and ask them for their permission to give that confidential information to Wind Concerns.
“What caught our interest is we needed a step one; how do we get the names of some people to work with, and Huron County had already started that,” said Wilson. “So that’s why we’re here today, to ask them if they could continue that work, and we would be their partner.” She mentioned, however, that sharing those names are a minimum contribution, and suggested other ways for their staff to get involved.
The study will include at least six houses. First, they would get the names and complaints from those who submitted those to Huron County. Then, they would look through those complaints to find appropriate subjects and record their symptoms. They would then measure noise in and around their homes.
Wilson said other studies have just looked at noise in one room, but they will look in many locations in the home. They will also measure the homes in many seasons and in different weather conditions. In the past, they have measured the home once, but Wilson said it’s important to track the house for a while to get a more accurate picture. This would likely take at least a year.
Bluewater Mayor Tyler Hessel, who is also the chair of the Board of Health, spoke on behalf of MOH Dr. Maarten Bokhout who was absent at the meeting. Bokhout wanted to emphasize that a partnership with University of Waterloo was a key aspect of this undertaking.
The board passed a motion at the end of the meeting to recommend a partnership, but it isn’t quite official at this point. Their motion including looking into their staff workload to make sure they could handle this extra task, and they will revisit the subject at their September meeting.
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