On August 24, 2016, Barbara Ashbee from Ontario wrote to Marie-Eve Héroux, member of the panel developing the WHO Environmental Noise Guidelines for the European Region:
Dear Mme. Héroux,
My name is Barbara Ashbee.
I live in Mulmur, Dufferin County, Ontario and I am writing to submit information on wind turbine noise in our communities to include in your research.
An industrial wind turbine installation had serious impact on our family personally and many others in our neighbourhood, our province, country and globally.
I have met with many impacted families here in Ontario and have corresponded with others out of province. I didn’t know any of these people before the effects of wind turbines changed our lives.
In 2008/2009 my husband and I both had our health seriously impacted after a turbine project started up around our home. The adverse health effects started petty much right away.
We had loud cyclical noise and a vibration and humming in our house that made sleep impossible, ongoing, multiple nights in a row. I had no idea how serious and dangerous sleep deprivation was until I experienced it first-hand. Due to ongoing exposure to the emissions from the turbines our health declined to the point that we had to leave our home.
My husband and I were both healthy and happy adults. We took no medications and we enjoyed life and our work outside the home. We had purchased our bungalow 3 years before the turbine project was built and had done a lot of updating with plans for it to be our retirement home. We were building my husband’s new garage/workshop at the same time the turbines were being built. We had no idea that they were going to cause us problems as we had not heard of any issues from the first phase that was erected in 2006. I was taking photos and sharing them with my family as the project was erected. In fact when one of our neighbours came to us in 2006 and asked if we would have any concerns with them putting one on their property we said of course not.
We were not anti-turbine or anti-wind and we had not been informed by anyone that there were problems.
We were harmed by these wind turbines surrounding us and even as we had engineering noise reports showing out of compliance cyclical noise, a vibration and infrasound measured inside of our home and dirty electricity our government continued to tell us that the wind company was running in compliance and there was nothing they could do. Only after our pleas to our government and attempts to have the noise and vibration problems corrected did we find out that there had been many families before us that had been billeted, bought out by the developer, or forced to move because they couldn’t take living in their homes anymore.
Along with sleep deprivation we experienced headaches, stomach aches, episodes of dizziness, nausea, impaired cognitive and memory function, heart palpitations and chest pressure, infection requiring antibiotics, pressure in the head and ears, a bleeding nose that required liquid nitrogen treatment, and just before we moved out of our home my husband was diagnosed with hyper thyroidism, something he had never had before. We knew what was causing it and informed his specialist. He was not put on any medication and after we moved his levels returned to normal and he has not had an issue since.
Being exposed to the cyclical noise, the low frequency noise and infrasound left us physically ill and with no resolution offered and no ability to shut the turbines off, we were completely disempowered. Unable to have the problems fixed and unable to stay in the home we loved has been very distressing. The realization that our lives were deemed worthless by authorities was hard to take.
Our pets were also affected with one dog in particular whimpering and crying when the conditions were the worst. They were at times antsy, restless and bothered, sometimes crying, sometimes going from room to room. It was not normal behaviour. It was heartbreaking and so we started to look for a place to move. We asked locally about renting a mobile home to park on our driveway to get out of our house. We were not successful. We moved our bed into our detached garage but the noise and vibration was no better. We started to make inquiries about renting another house but with three dogs and 2 cats it was not easy and it is extremely hard to leave everything we had knowing that if they would just shut the project off we could at least get some sleep. We kept hoping a solution was around the corner. We just kept trying to resolve it.
An attempt by the wind company was made to move us to a property that they had purchased one concession over from us but it was rank with mold so we had to abort that. In the end we purchased a tent and we moved our bed, a night table, a lamp and a heater out into the tent and spent our remaining days on our property sleeping outside. The vibration was not as bad as it was in the house and they had agreed to shut 5 surrounding turbines down. While it was pretty cold some nights, it was better than in our house. Our pets slept outside with us.
I am quite confident you will hear the word torturous from other impacted people and I can attest to the fact that description nails it. To be deprived of sleep, with no power to shut the noise or vibration off, to have your health decline from the impacts of the noise, infrasound and vibration in the sanctity of your own home, the very place you normally turn for restorative sleep and relaxation is pure torture. It is unbearable. It is spirit crushing and heartbreaking.
The ultimate insult of having gone through this, to having fought for our home and lost, to losing faith and trust in any authority that we thought was concerned about people’s health and wellness, is to have it happen to even more families in our area and globally because it continues.
Were you to meet any of these families, the small children, the seniors, teens, it doesn’t matter age, gender, race, religion or economic background, if you could meet with these people and listen to them, it would be a huge step in understanding. Please, as you consider the research, the academic input, the physicians, acousticians and others who are giving you information, please also talk to the people. Talk to the ones who have been harmed. Talk with the families who have first-hand experience. You will find their personal accounts and symptoms are the same regardless of what country they come from or what language they speak.
I am appealing to you to investigate fully and to order turbines cease operation until the people have had a genuine hearing of their complaints. Nobody consented to having their lives so negatively impacted. This is clearly a case of terribly flawed policy trumping health and wellness.
It should never have happened.
– Attached is a compilation of statements from wind turbine affected families in Ontario that were drawn from early news reports, personal comments from meetings and testimony from different communities in Ontario. This compilation is a number of years old now and represents a small snapshot of affected families. The purpose for compiling it was to inform our government that the complaints are the same and that they are growing. Hundreds more turbines have been built since and every project has additional impacted families. Not only did early turbine projects cause harm but the newer turbines are much larger and yet the setbacks remain the same.
Wind Turbine Impacts in Ontario – A small collection of testimony
– Attached is a copy of my deputation to the standing committee on the Ontario Green Energy and Economy Act from 2009.
Committee Transcripts: Standing Committee on General Government – April 15, 2009 – Bill 150, Green Energy and Green Economy Act, 2009
– I am attaching an abatement plan, drawn up by Ministry of Environment field officers in our area that ultimately never made it to the public. It was shelved by authorities.
The officers acknowledged and reported on many occasions that they knew people were being harmed and that it was not trivial but nothing happened to help the people they were trying to help.
– I am attaching a summary of related research compiled by Canadian independent researcher Carmen Krogh.
A summary of some of the peer reviewed articles and conference papers, abstracts and other citations, regarding impairment of health in general and relating to industrial wind turbines
– I am providing a link to WindVoice an early self-reporting survey conducted in Ontario. windvictimsontario.com/wind-voice-survey.html
– This is a link to windvictimsontario.com where testimony, video statements, and interviews of impacted people can be found. Much of this info is found on websites as no ministry or agency in any level of government in Canada has gathered or reviewed the complaints.
In the past 8 years since this happened to us, I could supply reams of letters, documents and testimony all supporting the need for an investigation and for the turbine projects to cease operating so innocent families can live in their own homes and try to recuperate from the turbine emissions that harm them.
The people living among these wind power centers need relief.
That these projects are allowed to continue to operate where complaints, illness and home abandonment have been made is cruel and inhumane.
Please keep me posted on your progress with your research and please contact me if I can help in any way. I am pleading with great urgency that you please help those who are being impacted right now.