As noted in a previous post, a recent report by the Chief Medical Officer of Health (CMOH) in Ontario focused on the narrow question of whether there is a “direct causal link between wind turbine noise and adverse health effects” experienced by some wind farm neighbors. Based on a review of published research, the answer was, “no.” This week, two of the people who were on the review committee providing feedback on the report as it moved from draft to final form noted that the final version dropped a section that some reviewers had urged be included, which would have more directly addressed the actual experiences of communities near wind farms.
Dr. Hazel Lynn, the Grey Bruce medical officer of health, told the Owen Sound Sun-Times, “The whole section that a couple of us really wanted in there on community health and community disruption went. It’s not in there. I suspect politically she can’t criticize another ministry, so I was a little disappointed.”
“I think it’s a fair comment that there is other material that could have been in the report and wasn’t,” added Dr. Ray Copes, the director of environmental and occupational health at the Ontario Agency for Health Protection and Promotion and another member of the committee that reviewed drafts of the report. Copes said there are “really important and quite legitimate” questions about wind farms that he and Lynn thought should be discussed, but “I guess the CMOH’s report wasn’t the place for it.”
Both Lynn and Copes stressed that they agreed with the report as far as it went, and that direct noise levels and sound qualities of wind farms don’t appear likely to directly cause health problems. Lynn noted that there is an “association” between wind farms and some health effects, but that these effects also occur elsewhere; still, she said, “Basically, I think they (wind farms) disrupt communities if they’re not properly planned and instituted and when you disrupt people’s communities they get sick.” There is evidence to back that position up, she added, but “that doesn’t come through very clearly” in King’s report. Likewise, Copes stressed that the idea of a unique quality in wind farm noise causing a new set of health problems seems “implausible,” yet he also stressed (as did AEI) that the report highlights the need for more direct measurements of sound levels around wind farms. Such measurements will add much-needed ground truthing to the sound models currently used in siting decisions, and could provide more concrete data to use in assessing both noise complaints and health concerns.