Malcolm S. Lock, MD., M.P.H.
(A) Medical Officer of Health
Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit
Haldimand-Norfolk Board of Health
c/o Chair, Mr. Charlie Luke
Ms Stephana Johnston
February 25, 2015
Dear Dr. Lock,
Re: Response to your November 20, 2014 letter to Ms Johnston
Ms Johnston has asked that I respond to your letter of November 20, 2014. She requests that a copy of this letter be provided to the Chair and the Members of the Board of Health.
Personal disclosure: I declare no potential conflicts of interest and have received no financial support with respect to the research and authorship of this commentary.
This letter is public and may be shared.
I met Ms Johnston for the first time on April 22, 2009, during the Standing Committee on General Government, Green Energy and Economy Act, 2009 hearings. I have been in touch with Ms Johnston since that time and am aware of her circumstances. In my opinion since early 2009 Ms Johnston has explored every avenue available to her, including contacting your office, to find a remedy to her circumstances which are associated with the operation of
the wind projects in her vicinity.
There is sufficient evidence that some, including Ms Johnston are negatively affected by industrial wind energy facilities. Examples of reported adverse health effects include chronic and high annoyance, chronic sleep disturbance, stress-related health impacts and reduced quality of life.1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11, 12 In some cases families reporting adverse health effects have abandoned their homes, been billeted away from their homes or hired legal counsel to successfully reach a financial agreement with the wind energy developer.13
Peer reviewed and published references, testimony under oath, and/or disclosure evidence and/or witness statements, authoritative documents and other references such as those briefly
summarized in this letter have acknowledged adverse health effects.
A brief bio and summary of the peer reviewed articles and conference papers for which I am an author / co-author is provided at the end of this letter.
Assurances of Health Protection
In a communication dated pre-Green Energy and Economy Act (GEA 2009), the former Minister of Environment of Ontario, John Gerretsen states the MOE is committed to siting and operation of facilities in a manner that is protective of human health and that it is an offence to violate a condition set out in a CofA (Certificate of Approval): [excerpt] Continue reading Annoyance is an adverse health effect→
here is the word for word presentation….without the accompanying slide show…. that was heard at the ERT.
Michael A. Jankowski – Presentation Companion (Exact Spoken Words at Presentation)
I have come to you today because I know, based on our experiences, observations and learnings, that the HAF Wind Turbines have invoked serious health issues for my family and myself and to warn you and others that if NRWC is allowed to proceed with a much larger Wind Project nearly the same distance from our home as HAF, that not only will our issues continue to get worse, but many of the 10,000 people living in the environ of the NRWC project area will also start to suffer from serious Wind Turbine induced negative health impacts as we have and probably worse. Many who will suffer will have a difficult task to determine why they are suffering and will also need help to know where to report any such suffering. Further, if they overcome the hurdles to find out where to report, it is unlikely they will receive any meaningful response, as experienced by my family and I.
We have established a chain of causality, from the noise/vibrations which invade into our home, most often at night as we try to sleep through to the resultant health impacts we have experienced, which, are strikingly the same health impacts that studies note and the experiences of many other people also report. You should consider my presentation to be “eye witness” material. In my full submission, I’ve provided what information I can from professionals in the short time I have been afforded by the ERT process. I offer this in addition to my experiences, observation and learnings including a letter from our family doctor.
In my direct experience, the giant Wind Turbines which are the HAF Wind Power generation project do emit audible Low Frequency Noise and Inaudible Infrasound with a multi-cyclic characteristic so significant that we can hear/feel this noise/vibration in our home many nights as we try to sleep. (Similar in characteristic to 2 or 3 alarm clocks sounding) Often, when we hear/feel this, my ears feel pressurized and in some pain at times after hearing/feeling the noise/vibration from the HAF Wind Turbines. This is also consistent with what many others have noted. The sound/vibration bears a distinct monotonal predictable repetitive pattern – WHOOM, WHOOM, WHOOM, WHOOM, WHOOM which is in time with the HAF Wind Turbines and only present when they are turning as I will describe later.
Since the HAF Wind Turbines (HWTs) commenced operation on June 14th, 2014, my family and I noticed serious and negative changes to our health and wellness over time. Since my family and I have been subjected the HWTs noise/vibration, we have endured negative health consequences which we have not experienced previously and which are directly related to the parts of my body which are irritated when we hear/feel this noise/vibration. Continue reading Michael Jankowski – Presentation as heard at ERT.→
Mothers Against Wind Turbines Inc. has launched an Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) against the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MOE) and the Niagara Region Wind Corporation (NRWC). The NRWC has been granted approval by the Ministry of the Environment to construct 77 industrial wind turbines in West Lincoln, Wainfleet and Haldimand County. These IWT’s are the largest turbines to be placed on land in North America with the smallest set back. They will generate more empty homes, hospital expenses and higher electricity bills.
While Dufferin Wind Power Inc. (DWPI) “unequivocally” states its transmission line meets all regulations, Melancthon Mayor Darren White wants the county to conduct its own electromagnetic field (EMF) tests.
At county council’s meeting this Thursday (Jan. 8), White plans to urge politicians hire an electrical engineering consultant to determine whether the amount of stray energy being emitted from Dufferin Wind’s 230 kV transmission line is safe or not.
“It’s in the best interest of us to at least know what the levels are that we’re dealing with,” White said. “To have somebody, who is professional in the field, explain to us that this is safe, this is not safe, or under which conditions it is safe.”
Since Health Canada doesn’t consider EMF a hazard, there are no precautionary measures required when it relates to daily exposure. As such, Dufferin Wind spokesperson Connie Roberts noted the company has no testing guidelines to follow.
“We state unequivocally that all protocol has been followed in the construction of this line,” Roberts explained in an email, claiming opponents to her company’s project are requesting EMF measurements that aren’t mandated in Canada.
“DWPI has installed a safe power line,” Roberts added. “It has been built to the latest industry standards; and it is consistently operating at well under capacity.”
Health Canada study: Ontario wind turbine rules not protecting citizens
The results of a Health Canada study released November 6 show that Ontario is not protecting the health of residents living near wind turbines, and that longer setbacks between the wind turbines and homes are required.
Health Canada’s summary of its Wind Turbine Noise and Health study results included the fact that responses to the study’s questionnaire show participants reporting experiencing distress or annoyance when wind turbine noise was at 35 decibels/dBA. Current Ontario regulations are based on the World Health Organization Night Noise limit of 40 dBA but that limit was designed solely for traffic and airport noise. Continue reading Health Canada study: Ontario wind turbine rules not protecting citizens→
Please donate to the Legal Fund, we can fight only as far as the money takes us.
Wind turbine appeal to be heard in Smithville Wellandport
As they said they would, an advocacy group has appealed the decision to allow a 77-turbine wind farm to be built in west Niagara, but they have no disillusions of their chances of winning.
A preliminary hearing for a tribunal that could overturn the wind farm approval has now been scheduled for Dec. 19 at the Wellandport Community Centre.
That building, on Canborough Rd. in Smithville, has become a key site in the wind turbine debate, with numerous public meetings held there as progress on the massive development has slowly moved forward.
Niagara Region Wind Corp. was given the green light to move forward with its industrial wind turbine project in early November when the Ministry of the Environment issued its Renewable Energy Approval.
WEST LINCOLN — Despite government approval, a group of West Lincoln resident continues to fight impending industrial wind turbines.
Earlier this month the provincial government gave the green light to a wind farm planned by Niagara Region Wind Corp. The company plans to erect 77 wind turbines with the majority located in the township. Mothers Against Wind Turbines Inc. is doing anything but accepting the approval and has filed an appeal the project.
The appellants allege they have several grounds to prove the proposed project will cause “serious and irreversible harm to plants, animals and the natural environment” — which is what the tribunal can make decisions based on. MAWT alleges the project could harm butterflies and an endangered tree species within the project study area. They say that studies on both by the proponent are incomplete and that site surveys for several natural features were not conducted.
The group also alleges the project will harm human health, alleging that more than 600 people will be experience negative health effects from the turbines and that the project is a violation of rights granted to all Canadians under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The Canadian Charter of Rights Constitutional court case re industrial wind turbines was heard in London Divisional Court last week from Monday – Thursday. (was extended into Thursday) A panel of 3 judges heard the case and indicated they need to take enough time on the decision to ensure due diligence. There were no references to decision timelines on the appeal. The decision on the “stay” request of stopping the projects until a decision is made might possibly be sooner as the judge asked when the turbine blades would start turning and the answer was that turbine testing would begin in January.
The Coalition Against Industrial Wind Turbines (CAIWT) lawyer, Richard Macklin, was allowed 15 minutes for his oral presentation in support of the appeal on Monday but no decision was made on whether the coalition would be allowed as intervenors so that decision will come out with the final decision.The coalition argued that various procedures in the Renewable Energy Approvals and the Environmental Review Tribunal appeal process are unconstitutional because they do not protect the health of the community. Some issues presented were: the Director issues wind project approvals without considering health; appeals must be heard and the decision out in 6 months which is a very short a time to hear all the evidence on a serious issue; adjournments are sparingly granted (none granted here); the bar is set too high when we have to prove that the project will cause serious harm to human health; the onus is on those appealing that the project will cause serious harm; and community groups do not have the resources for these appeals whereas the opponents are well resourced. Despite the importance of the issues in these appeals, no group in the coalition can afford to hire counsel on its own, hence the coalition. The coalition also shows that not just people living in the project areas of this appeal are affected but communities all over rural Ontario are being affected.
So in the meantime, we wait for the decision. Whoever wins, there will likely be an appeal to the Supreme Court.
This article, the final of three installments, discusses the relationship between various health effects and our current understanding of the processing of infrasound by the ear and brain. [Part 1: Some Background; Part 2: The Evidence.]
As noted in the second installment of this series, Dr. Geoff Leventhall, a co-author of the 2009 AWEA/CanWEA report, attributes the health complaints of people who live near industrial wind turbines (IWTs) to psychological stress, but does not acknowledge that IWTs can be detrimental to health because infrasound and low-frequency noise (ILFN) emitted by wind turbines are largely inaudible to humans. He stands on the argument, therefore, that what we can’t hear can’t hurt us.
We know that things we cannot see, touch, taste, or smell can hurtus, so why is it unreasonable also to believe that what we can’t hear might also hurt us?
Dr. Nina Pierpont, in describing Wind Turbine Syndrome (WTS), has expressed her belief that many of the symptoms comprising WTS are mediated by overstimulation of the vestibular system of the inner ear by ILFN. Recent evidence supports the general view that the functioning of both the vestibular and cochlear components of the inner ear, and their interconnections with the brain, mediate the type of symptoms that Pierpont and others have described.
INFRASOUND: MORE OF A PROBLEM THAN WE THOUGHT?
Industrial-scale wind turbines generate peak sound pressure levels at infrasonic frequencies, especially between 0.25 and 3 Hz, as the blades pass in front of the tower. Most of us do not experience the energy in this lowest of low-frequency regions as sound; instead, we perceive a variety of other sensations. When present, infrasound can be more of a problem than audible sound.
Recent basic research on the inner ear conducted by Dr. Alec Salt and colleagues at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis has provided a feasible and coherent explanation of how sound that is normally not audible can result in the kinds of negative reactions reported by people who are exposed to wind turbine noise. That research has shown that extremely low-frequency sound is largely inaudible to humans because the outer hair cells (OHCs) in the inner ear detect and effectively cancel it before it reaches the inner hair cells (IHCs). The IHC stereocilia, which do not contact the tectorial membrane, are fluid-coupled and sensitive to stimulus velocity, while the OHC stereocilia are sensitive to displacement. IHCs rapidly become less sensitive as stimulus frequency is lowered.
Readers familiar with the anatomy of the ear know that approximately 95% of the fibers innervating the IHCs lead to the brain as afferent fibers, while only about 5% of the fibers innervating the OHCs are afferent fibers. Thus, we hear through our IHCs, and our hearing sensitivity is comparable to the calculated IHC sensitivity. The OHCs, which respond physiologically to infrasound, serve as a pathway for infrasound to reach the brain. Infrasonic signals that reach the brain are normally not perceived as sound, but are believed to stimulate centers other than auditory centers, resulting in perceptions that may be unfamiliar and disturbing.
Similar pathways to various centers of the brain also exist through the vestibular, or balance, mechanisms of the inner ear, meaning that it is biologically plausible for infrasound to produce the variety of sensations described by Pierpont, sensations such as pulsation, annoyance, stress, panic, ear pressure or fullness, unsteadiness, vertigo, nausea, tinnitus, general discomfort, memory loss, and disturbed sleep.
Salt and colleagues have also found that when higher-pitched sounds (150-1500 Hz) are present, they can suppress infrasound. This means that the ear is most sensitive to infrasound when higher-frequency sounds are absent. This occurs at night when wind turbine noise is present, ambient sound levels are low, and higher-pitched sounds are attenuated by walls and other physical structures.
Another relatively recent discovery is that there is likely a cause-effect relationship between AHEs and ILFN that mirrors that occurring in motion sickness. An experiment in the late 1980s, conducted using training-mission scenarios with Navy pilots, showed that motion sickness was associated with significant amounts of acoustic energy inside the flight cabin over the frequency range from just under 1 Hz to as low as 0.05 Hz (the nauseogenic range). Maximum sensitivity occurred at approximately 0.2 Hz. That experiment resulted in the conclusion that flight simulator sickness may be, to a significant extent, a function of exposure to infrasonic frequencies. This phenomenon is akin to seasickness, except that the acoustic energy causes nausea without body movement or visual stimulation.
Dr. Paul Schomer, nationally and internationally known for his work in acoustics and acoustic-standards development, has suggested that because the Navy test subjects responded to acoustical/vibratory energy with symptoms similar to motion sickness, many of the similar symptoms reported by people living near IWTs can be explained by exposure to infrasound from wind turbines at frequencies similar to those observed in the Navy’s test environment. Persons affected by wind turbine noise appear to be responding directly to acoustic stimulation of the same nerves and organs affected in that experimental environment.
DATA SUPPORT REPORTED SYMPTOMS AS BIOLOGICALLY PLAUSIBLE
These research efforts of Salt and colleagues, Schomer, and others are leading the way in establishing the biological plausibility of the harmful effects of ILFN generated by wind turbines.
Dr. Salt dismisses the common perception that what we can’t hear can’t hurt us and has stated unequivocally that “Wind turbines can be hazardous to human health.”
Decisions regarding the siting of industrial wind turbines deserve careful attention to limiting noise exposure levels in community residents through specified restrictions on either distance or noise levels, or both. The right of the public to enjoy health and well-being should be paramount to the economic and political interests of the wind industry and governmental bodies. These rights need to be protected on a proactive, and not just on a retroactive, basis. Industrial-scale wind turbines should be sited only at distances from residents that are sufficient to minimize sleep disturbance and that do not put them at risk for a variety of other serious health problems.
Jerry Punch is an audiologist and professor emeritus at Michigan State University in the Department of Communicative Sciences and Disorders. Since his retirement in 2011, he has become actively involved as a private audiological consultant in areas related to his long-standing interest in community noise.
Richard James is an acoustical consultant with over 40 years of experience in industrial noise measurement and control. He served as an adjunct instructor in Michigan State University’s Department of Communicative Sciences and Disorders from 1985-2013 and currently serves as an adjunct professor in Central Michigan University’s Department of Communication Disorders.