Health Canada's wind turbine health study
is doomed to irrelevance, because is largely based on asking
people whether they are annoyed about wind turbines. With this
methodology, Health Canada could "prove" that
people are annoyed and distressed about any number of things:
extreme summer heat and drought; traffic congestion; electricity
rates; taxes; gun crime, etc. And I expect they could prove
annoyance and sleep disturbance among people near a wide range of
noise sources, including highways, airports, gun clubs, racetracks,
Toronto's entertainment district, motorcycles, outdoor bars and the Indy.
Among other things, Health Canada's plan lacks one critical
feature of a good study: it will not isolate the alleged
noise impact from the subjects' preconceived opinions about
turbines. Compare the much better study of 725 Dutch
residents done by the University of Groningen, where wind turbines
are widespread: WINDFARM perception.
Van den Berg et al. (2008) evaluated factors associated with
wind turbine annoyance, how residents perceived the wind farm, and
self-reported health. Strengths of the study included the large
number of participants (725) who were randomly selected from 50,375
residences, and placing people in one of four increasing noise
exposure groups ranging from 25 to 45 decibels.
Study masking: a major strength
A major strength of the study was the "masking" of the
study, so subjects did not know the focus was on wind turbines. The
study also included an analysis of people who declined to
A main study result was that health effects — chronic
disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease,
migraines, psychological distress, stress and difficulty falling
asleep — were not associated with wind turbine sound
levels. The results did indicate that both sleep interruption and
"annoyance" were associated with increasing total noise
As in previous studies, one of the strongest factors
affecting annoyance, and sleep interruption, is whether the person
was receiving financial benefits from the operation of the wind
The study group was selected from all residents in the
Netherlands within 2.5 km from a wind turbine. As the study aimed
to study modern wind farms, wind turbines were selected with an
electric capacity of 500 kW or more and one or more turbines within
500 m from the first. Excluded were wind turbines that were erected
or replaced in the year preceding the survey. Residents lived in
the countryside with or without a busy road close to the
turbine(s), or in built-up areas (villages, towns). Excluded were
residents in mixed and industrial areas.
This Dutch study is one of several that has been performed
around the world, or is already underway. So duplication and waste
is no concern to our federal government, when the politics suit
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