17 Health Studies (1 of 3)

Several months ago I started noticing references among wind energy proponents to 17 reviews of the evidence relating to health effects, all of which concluded there were no problems.  The 17 reviews apparently originated with Simon Chapman, a professor in Australia.   Initially I didn’t pay much attention to them – proponents are always claiming to have a mass of evidence that shows that wind turbines are safe, which is always contraindicated by actual neighbors.  But when I saw that OSEA (the Ontario Sustainable Energy Association) mentioned the 17 reviews in a formal submission to Health Canada I thought I ought to take a look at them.   To go through all 17 takes longer than one post, so I’ve split this one into 3 parts: (a) an overview and listing of the 17, (b) more detail on the 17, and (c) a look at their underlying source material.

Part 2                     Part 3

I cannot image anyone reading through all 3 parts, but I wanted to make sure I gave the 17 every chance to show me that wind turbines are not a health hazard.  In this, they failed.  I came away with 3 major conclusions:

  1. the jury is still out on health impacts (but the jury is filing in);
  2. turbines disrupt sleep and create annoyance (enough to become a health issue);
  3. Chapman is a skilled cherry picker.

In every-day English a “review” could also be referred to as a “study” but this is deceptive: most people think of a study as going out and studying something, not sitting in a cubicle and Googling around.  These 17 reviews were largely Googling exercises – they read other studies and summarized the results.  The important point is that whatever conclusion these reviews came to necessarily depends upon what the authors read and how they interpreted it.  None of the reviews relates actual research, like going out into the field to see what is really going on.  As far as I can tell not one of the 17’s contributors has ever interviewed (let alone diagnosed) any victims or visited their homes.

Chapman introduced the 17 reviews in a submission to New South Wales [backup link] dated March 8, 2012.   It is interesting to see how both he and others have referred to them.  Initially, it was: “There are now 17 published reviews of the available evidence about whether exposure to wind turbines causes health problems and about whether infrasound can harm human health.”  Note that there are really two topics here, health and infrasound, and “reviews” is fairly prominent.  Down in Appendix 1 it becomes: “Summary of main conclusions reached in 17 reviews of the research literature on wind farms and health.”  By September 7 OSEA claims: “OSEA is aware of at least seventeen reviews of the literature on this topic, in which the overwhelming conclusion is that wind turbines have little or no direct impact on human health…“.  On Quora, Mike Barnard (A prominent wind energy proponent and commenter.  Previously I stated that he had a financial interest in the wind industry.  If he does, it seems small enough to be insignificant.  Note his comments below.  I’m sorry if I maligned him in error.) stated: “17 major independent health studies all clear wind turbines of negative health impacts“.  Finally, in the Australian Senate hearings on wind turbines and health, it became: “Yes. And there have been 17 international studies of the health effects on wind turbines; are you aware of those studies?” I suspect the substitution of the word “studies” for “reviews” is intentionally misleading, in an effort to make them sound more authoritative than they really are.

What you quickly find out that of these reviews, at least those that actually consider wind turbines and health, almost all of them come down to either 3 or (more recently) 4 actual studies: Pedersen 2004, Pedersen 2007, van den Berg 2008 and Shepherd 2011.  In part 2 of this series I’ll look at the 17 in more details and in part 3 I’ll cover what the 4 studies actually said and how that has been warped by proponents, including many of these 17 reviews.

The Reviews, all 17 of them

The first line is how I’ll refer to them.  Then Chapman’s title, followed by the actual title (sometimes they aren’t exactly the same) to lessen any confusion, his link (with a few corrections, these all worked in November 2012) and finally a backup link.

1) Massachusetts
2012: Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection.
Wind Turbine Health Impact Study: Report of Independent Expert Panel

2) Oregon
2012: Oregon Wind Energy Health Impact Assessment
http://public.health.oregon.gov/HealthyEnvironments/TrackingAssessment/HealthImpactAssessment/Documents/Oregon Wind Energy HIA Public comment.pdf

3) Fiumicelli
2011: Fiumicelli D. Windfarm noise dose-response: a literature review. Acoustics Bulletin 2011; Nov/Dec:26-34
Wind Farm Noise Dose Response: A literature review.
none supplied, you can email Chapman at Simon.chapman@sydney.edu.au

4) Bolin
2011: Bolin K et al. Infrasound and low frequency noise from wind turbines: exposure and health effects. Environmental Res Let 2011;
Infrasound and low frequency noise from wind turbines: exposure and health effects

5) Knopper
2010: Knopper LD, Ollsen CA. Health effects and wind turbines: a review of the literature. Environmental Health 2010; 10:78
Health effects and wind turbines: A review of the literature

6) UK Infrasound
2010: UK Health Protection Agency Report on the health effects of infrasound
Health Effects of Exposure to Ultrasound and Infrasound

2010: NHMRC Rapid Review of the evidence
Wind Turbines and Health A Rapid Review of the Evidence

8 ) King
2010: Chief Medical Officer of Health in Ontario
The Potential Health Impact of Wind Turbines
use http://www.health.gov.on.ca/en/common/ministry/publications/reports/wind_turbine/wind_turbine.pdf

9) UK Noise
2010: UK Health Protection Agency. Environmental noise and health in the UK.
Environmental noise and health in the UK

10) Minnesota
2009: Minnesota Department of Health. Environmental Health Division. Public Health Impacts of Wind Turbines.
Public Health Impacts of Wind Turbines

2009: Canadian Wind Energy Association. Addressing Concerns with Wind Turbines and Human Health. CanWEA, Ottawa.
Addressing Concerns with Wind Turbines and Human Health
http://www.canwea.ca/pdf/CanWEA – Addressing concerns with wind turbines and human health.pdf

12) Colby 2009
2009: Colby et al. Wind Turbine Sound and Health Effects: An Expert Panel Review.
Wind Turbine Sound and Health Effects: An Expert Panel Review

13) Colby 2008
2008: Chatham-Kent Public Health Unit.
The Health Impact of Wind Turbines: A Review of the Current White, Grey and Published Literature

14) NRC
2007: National Research Council (USA): Impact of wind energy development on humans
Environmental Impacts of Wind-Energy Projects

15) Jakobsen
2005: Jakobsen J. Infrasound emission from wind turbines. J Low Frequency Noise, Vibration and Active Control 2005; 24(3):145-155
Infrasound emission from wind turbines
none supplied, use http://windland.ch/doku_wind/noise/Infrasound_Emission_Wind_Turbines.pdf

16) Leventhall
2004: Leventhall G. Low frequency noise and annoyance. Noise & Health 2004;.6(23):59-72
Low frequency noise and annoyance

17) Pedersen 2003
2003: Eja Pedersen’s Review for the Swedish EPA
Noise annoyance from wind turbines: a review



49 thoughts on “17 Health Studies (1 of 3)”

  1. I see that you are one of the anti-wind brigade who are spreading the frequently corrected misstatement that I have a financial interest in the wind industry.

    I will assume that you aren’t any of the numerous people who I have corrected directly — Laura Griffin, Dan Wrightman, Elizabeth Wrightman, Collette McLean, MA of WCO — and that you are not spreading this falsehood knowingly but have been informed by one of the ones who is spreading it knowingly. It’s impossible for me to tell as you maintain this blog anonymously.

    I work for IBM which employs 434,000 people world wide doing work and selling software and hardware in every industry and in pretty much every country. IBM has done one joint effort in big data analysis with Vestas, a wind turbine manufacturer. I wasn’t involved with it in any way.

    IBM does Smart Grid projects which are modernizing the electrical grids in countries world wide so that they can be more resilient and so that they can be better managed centrally with more accurate and timely information. This is of value to large-scale renewables penetration, but would occur in any event as it’s necessary for 21st century efficiency demands. I was involved for about a week in one proposal for one smart grid project in Ontario.

    IBM does Smart Metering projects which have absolutely nothing to do with renewables. I was involved in a couple of smart metering projects for perhaps four weeks in total.

    So that’s five weeks of my career which spans well over 20 years.

    I also hold GE stock. GE makes wind turbines, but it also makes nuclear reactors, coal generation units, natural gas generation units, diesel electric locomotives and about a thousand other big things.

    In other words, I don’t have a financial interest in the wind industry. That anti-wind campaigners and lobbyists keep asserting this is due to their inability to counter the factual, evidence-based, referenced material that I provide when confronted with a-scientific, a-factual, zero-evidence myths about wind energy.

    If you really are ‘going where the evidence takes’ you, you’ll correct your post and accept that there are volunteers who are strongly for wind energy as a safe, clean, CO2e-neutral form of electrical generation who disagree with you. I’ve read all of the same things you have (and likely a lot more) and disagree with your positions on wind energy.

    If you choose to maintain the falsehood and deny the possibility that intelligent and informed people can weigh the evidence and not only disagree with you, but actively argue for wind energy solely as a voluntary activity — once again I give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that your blog is purely voluntary –, then you are choosing to live in a blinkered world and you are not going where the evidence takes you, but where your bias takes you.

  2. Thanks, Wayne. I might look through a few of these myself, but am still waiting for someone to notice that since there is a body of information on the physiological and psychological effects of low frequency sound, independent of wind turbines, and that the response is very individualistic, that perhaps the research, presumably, might have better focus if one simply measured the sound field rather than hoping that individual receptors might be sensitive. Keep up the good work.

  3. My my, Mike, that was quick. As usual you’re just a little off on your assumptions. First, my anonymity – in the right hand column there’s a “who am I” link that apparently you’ve never noticed. The claim that I’m anonymous is would be news to a large number of my readers. Second, your financial interest – I’m not in contact with any of the folks you mentioned. I got your resume from linkedin (of which I’m a member also). You’re an IBM Global Services partner. As a partner, you participate in the profits of Global Services, and GS sees the smart grid as a large potential source of profits. To claim it has nothing to do with renewables is disingenuous. I’ll let my readers decide if you have an interest or not. Third, you question my ability to imagine there are “volunteers” who can disagree with me purely on the evidence. Here, you are correct. I have yet to meet anyone who has studied the industry and comes away thinking better of it for having done so. As an example of your bias, by any standards I’m aware of the Nissenbaum study is the most rigorous health study yet published and yet you immediately disparage it. Yet you accept Chapman’s 17 reviews, which in turn are largely based on the work of Pedersen et al, which is quite a bit less rigorous than Nissenbaum’s.

    Sorry, Mike, I’m not buying the intelligent and informed argument.

  4. Hi Greg. I’d agree that getting out into the field (in this case, someone’s home) and doing some measurements with equipment good enough to really capture the low frequencies would be an important activity. Which is why I regard McPherson as so important. The fact that the industry resists this most obvious of actions tells me that the it has something to hide, and knows it.

  5. Wayne,

    Now that you’ve reviewed the “17 studies”, you must realize that Chapman and (and his acolyte (minion? apologist? sycophant?) Barnard will have to update the number of “reviews” to 18. I’m sure they will find a way to 1) disparage you personally, 2) completely disregard your conclusions if they don’t fit into the wind industry’s plans, and 3) ignore anything you write that threatens their faith-based view of this issue.

    Thanks for review #18 and looking forward to part 3.

    Highest regards.

  6. Hi, I’d just like to say that a well done and fair review is usually something very useful, that can even go further than a field experiment, confronting diverging results and extracting the most useful and solid results from it.

    OTOH a review is also a great way for a dishonest reviewer to selectively report only the field studies that gave the results he wants, to add a lot of really poor studies to a few good ones in order to falsely claim a very large number of convergent results, and to hide any result he didn’t like in the original studies. But the more important is that there should many field studies and a few review. To do 17 reviews from only 4 original studies, and next let everyone believe those 17 are independent from each other !, is disturbing to say the least !

  7. @wayne: I stand corrected on the anonymous part. I didn’t see the Who Am I link under as it is off the bottom of the screen.

    Your continued assertion that I have a financial interest is asinine given all. You betray yourself. I don’t gain financial benefit from the wind industry. Your continued assertion of it is a lie and in your mind designed to somehow taint me. Good luck with that.

    We’ve discussed the topic of wind energy before. If memory serves, we ‘met’ first on Margaret Atwood’s blog, where you were peddling nonsense regarding wind and I was disagreeing with referenced, clear and coherent posts.

    Have fun in your echo chamber. I’ll stay in the real world.

  8. I find it curious that Mike Barnard takes such issue with the fact that these researchers are “connected” to anti-wind groups and thus, their study should be discounted, when for years, previous health studies have been done by the wind industry or with someone who works in the industry on the panel and yet he considers those to be fair and unbiased reports.

    The Massachusetts study done earlier this year is one that I’m very familiar with and it is a joke. That it is even included in the 17 supposed “reputable” studies is astounding. For CANwea and AWEA to cite that report as proof of no ill health effects, indicates to me just how despicable and unethical they are. And since Mike Barnard apparently is equally enamoured of reports of that calibre, I’ve got a pretty good read on just how high his standards are as well.

  9. I found this little remark online about CANwea and AWEA’s response to this study. (by the way, this remark was directed at Mike by Jim Cummings with the Acoustic Ecology Society)

    “At risk of being a little snarky, here’s a final thought on this rapid response from CanWEA/AWEA:
    After years of stressing that there’s no data to suggest a relationship between wind farms and sleep or health effects, it seems important to the industry to shoot down the under-funded research that is taking place among people who are actually reporting impacts. While it’s certainly valid to point out shortcomings in any research that’s out there, the same degree of diligence is rarely applied toward pointing out the limitations in the studies being cited as indications that health effects are no great concern. This rapid critique is an example of the current internet-driven trend toward waging science by press release (not without some justification, since this study is being widely touted as “proof” by anti-wind activists). More useful would be the funding of solid epidemiological studies of health and sleep around operating wind farms, including some where complaints are common and some where complaints are rare.”


  10. Bringing Nissenbaum into the mix is interesting. Not only has his shoddy work been reviewed in Ontario and Saskatchewan, and in Massachusets, but recently by Intrinsik….all found that the statements he was putting forth could not be supported by any of the evidence he presented. His statistical analysis was about as good as my six year old daughters would be – failing to even provide a correlation based on the lack of an r squared value….the splatter of data points looked something like a shotgun blast….how anyone can see a relationship there is beyond me. Beyond this, he failed to obtain sound data, rather, chose to estimate it off a graph! My goodness. If that is what you call research, then we are going to hell in a hand basket…..I guess the Australian Senate Committee are all bought and paid for too?

  11. Thank you Wayne for continuing to sort through the evidence and shed light on these matters.

    As you know, I am somebody who has experienced first hand the kinds of impacts widely-reported around the world by people who’ve had wind turbines operated too close to homes. This pain is exacerbated when people either ignorantly or intentionally mispresent the facts.

    People who recklessly promote dangerous policies are themselves “dangerous people”. We hope that some day police authorities and others will prosecute these dangerous people for their reckless, (negligent) behaviour. I find it suprising that people claiming to have a “big-picture” understanding of these matters fail to recognize that misrepresentation is a CRIME.

  12. Jim Cummings is a nice guy and a bit of a long-winded flake. He positions himself as an honest broker between the tiny percentage of acousticians who think that wind farms are insidious sources of damaging infrasound, and the vast majority of acousticians who actually know anything about sound.

    On a scale of 1 to ten, with 1 being anti-wind acousticians such as Cooper and 10 being mainstream acousticians such as Leventhall (who is misquoted yet again by Wayne above), the non-accredited amateur Cummings is a 2. He’s interested in sound as a hobby and shows up at events, but his lack of understanding of the basics leads him to try to bridge the gap based on relationships instead of science.

    With a good heart but a soft mind, Jim ends up giving the anti-wind folks way too much credit, and the mainstream far too little.

  13. Oh, and Wayne, thanks for doubling down on your idiocy. Having been told at length exactly what my financial connection to the wind industry is — zero — you modified your post to the following:
    “Mike Barnard (a prominent proponent and commenter who just happens to have a financial interest in the industry, although he claims he doesn’t – see the comments below)”

    As mentioned above, your capacity for intellectual honesty is clear.

  14. “He positions himself as an honest broker between the tiny percentage of acousticians who think that wind farms are insidious sources of damaging infrasound, and the vast majority of acousticians who actually know anything about sound.”

    Don’t you just love how Mike Barnard knows everyone and everything connected with anything? He’s now an expert on how many acousticians have an issue with damaging infrasound and “the majority”.

    You’re just amazing Mike. Of course, your bias on this issue would never cloud your judgement or ability to ever admit that you might be wrong on something. I bet you’ve still never gone and lived for a month with a family that is suffering from living next to a wind farm, have you? Have you even spoken with people who have had their lives turned upside down from these monstrosities that you love so much?

    Until you’ve done that, your opinions on this matter will continue to be scorned by those of us who have actual experience with this issue. You’re just another typically ignorant individual who thinks he knows everything, but actually knows very little.

  15. Why do those who oppose wind energy always assume that supporters of wind energy have no experience being around wind energy? And McMurtry does? He is in PEC and doesn’t live around wind turbines…and yet you believe him without question….

    You are so affirmed on your beliefs…never once are you providing alternatives to anything either…all negative, nothing positive, and no solutions proposed….

  16. My my solarrige, you’ve certainly made a lot of assumptions. As is typical of wind proponents, they are mostly wrong. I make no assumptions about who has been around wind energy. I do assume that people who are relating their experiences living around wind energy are basically honest, but perhaps mistaken about cause and effect. But after enough stories the cause and effect become tighter, don’t they?

    I don’t recall being influenced by McMurtry one way or another. I’ve met him and I’m glad he’s on our side. I believe in the evidence. I do not believe in revealed truth, no matter who the teller is, even him. I’ve been studying this stuff for 5+ years and I’d be willing to change my mind if any reasonable evidence was presented. So far I haven’t come across any that stands up to even my layman’s scrutiny. If you have some actual evidence to counteract my findings I’d like to know of it.

    When you’re in a hole, the first priority is to quit digging, and wind turbines are a massive hole. My solution? Education for women, so we can voluntarily get our population under control. Short of that, nothing pleasant will fix our current situation. The only energy solution is nuclear, and I’m not very happy about that. I just don’t see a workable alternative.

  17. It is sad that you think nuclear is the only answer. To assume that a technology whose costs are unknown, that cannot resolve issues related to:

    – massive consumption of water
    – massive disruption of the environment through mining, refining, AMD, etc….
    – cannot yet resolve long term waste issues
    – cannot build one project anywhere in the world on time or on budget
    – cannot be insured due to risks associated with the technology

    The nuclear industry, on top of all this is a “must run” source of power – there is no flexibility whatsoever. We pay debt retirement in Ontario due to historical overruns and stranded debt. While other counties are abandoning this failed source of electricity, your “alternative” is nuclear power?? Way to think outside of the box. Don’t fall for the fallacy that is the nuclear industry. It is expensive, opaque in costing, dangerous for the environment and a miserable source of power on the grid with NO flexibility at all.

    As for education of women, what are you stuck in the 1920’s? If we are talking about Pakistan, OK, but here at home, last I checked, women were entitled to receiving an eductation…not sure what that has to do with anything,mind you. I think you are mixing up education with family planning. I assume you have traveled the world and spoken with folks in developing countries on this issue? Absent of a standard of living, children are their retirement savings plan….i say, Let’s focus on our own backyard….there are a few remote communities in this country that can do with getting off diesel….

  18. By the way, my post #15 was responding to Laura Griffin. I would also like to offer you credit and thanks for willing to post comments that reflect positions that are different from yours. I have tried repeatedly to post on “wind turbine syndrome” and wind concerns Ontario, and not once have they posted one of my comments. And they have the gaul to speak about some make belief “conspiracy theory”! Cheers to the site admin.

  19. @solarridge – I didn’t say I was happy with nuclear, it is simply the least worst option. Wind and solar, without storage, are not feasible. And so far storage isn’t feasible on the scale needed.

    I do have to comment on the “massive consumption of water”. You do know, I assume, that no water is consumed by any type of thermal plant. It gets heated then returned relatively untouched to the environment. The heating may cause environmental problems to be sure, but calling that “consumption” is misleading. Aside from electrolysis, water gets consumed (made permanently unavailable to us) in just two ways: pollution and pumped somewhere so that it is no longer accessible. Fracking, the most popular compliment to wind energy, does both.

    As for the women, I am talking mostly about overseas. Most developed nations have already stabilized their populations, and some are already below replacement births which causes its own set of problems. If the developing countries don’t follow that trend we will all be in trouble – I don’t care where your backyard is. Luckily the trend for fewer births per woman is fairly strong in most parts of the world. And yes, economic security is part of why women’s education (and being able to join the labor force) is important. We have to do what we can until that trend becomes universal and continues.

  20. @solarridge – Don’t take the posting problems personally, I can’t seem to post there either, at least not reliably.

  21. @ solarridge — My comments to Mike Barnard are based on many confrontations with him many many times over the past few months. He is forever making disparaging comments about people who live near wind turbines and are suffering. “It’s all in their head. It’s psychosomatic. It’s merely suggestive ill health effects. Only English speaking people are complaining.”

    I’ve asked him repeatedly if he has ever spoken to anyone whose family is suffering or who has been bought out by a wind company or who has abandoned their home because they needed to escape from the problems associated with living so close to these industrial machines. He’s never answered that question. We already know that he does not live anywhere near a wind turbine installation.

    And yet he feels perfectly at ease, sitting behind his little desk, scoffing and ridiculing the people around the world who have genuine concerns. His lack of compassion and empathy is appalling. But he professes to be an expert on everything.

    I’m absolutely 100% for individual home wind turbines and solar systems. I think that is the way we need to go. Everyone should be somewhat self-reliant when it comes to power. But imposing giant industrial complexes into residential areas is wrong. You wouldn’t be allowed to build a new house right in the midst of an industrial basin in a city, so why can the government build an industrial area around pre-existing homes?

  22. Wow, there seem to be a lot of words to obfuscate about these matters and avoid the facts.

    For example, I see no response to your point that 17 reviews based on misinterpretations and misrepresentations of 4 original studies undermines the argument that the science is settled.???

    Also I notice that proponents of wind turbine schemes love to take us into conversations about the tradeoffs of various types of power production, when the fact is, coal, nuclear, etc, have NOTHING to do with the safe siting of wind turbines. There is no GOOD reason we cannot make sure that we are SAFELY developing wind turbine facilities.

    Is this tactic really just a defense for claims of negligence? In other words, they perceive their best defense to be: “wind turbines are so important that if there a few casualties, it’s okay for the greater good. That is, it is “reasonable” to go forward because the tradeoff between what we “know” and what we don’t know compels us to”???

    If so, this seems inconsistent with the position that wind turbines are absolutely safe… This may otherwise be described as “misrepresentation”.

  23. @ admin, re. Water consumption. You are incorrect. The IEA reported that in 2010, 66 billion cubic meters of water is consumed by thermal industries. This is not water that is returned – heavy water, for example, is not to be confused with heated water. Moreover, fossil based thermals are largely not permitted to return “contact” water to natural reservoirs, as it is largely contaminated with PAHs and other residual fossil nasties….this water is permanently removed, and often requires complicated, expensive, and energy intense treatment if it can even be returned. As for gas being the dance partner to wind – that is being pushed by gas. I would argue that flexible hydro, geothermal and other,much more benign techs are better dance partners….

    On the family planning front – agreed.

    @ Laurie – I don’t even know where to begin. Let me just say this – the reason why we can’t build “industrial facilities”, like a smelter or nuclear plant in residential areas is because they are dangerous for our health, due to primarily from air emissions, water contamination, odor etc. the reason why wind is permitted in most countries around the world is because it is benign. Annoyance to a few, who are largely driven to fear due to the hysterics by the like of Pierpont, is mangeable through setbacks, community investment plans, and good community engagement. why not think logically? You may be surprised at what you find. Do you not find it strange that the symptoms that chapman and Barnard are describing are IDENTICAL to the historical hysteria related to microwaves,telephones,EMF and smart meters? Coincidence?

  24. 2 years ago commenting on Margaret Atwood’s blog, I asked Mr. Barnard :” how does the nocebo effect theory apply to children Mike? Are children actually getting sick because of anticapatory fear?” http://marg09.wordpress.com/2010/04/13/anti-industrial-wind-turbines-march-april-28-queens-park/
    He responded by sending me to among other links a wikipedia article http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Day_care_sex_abuse_hysteria#False_allegations_when_interviewing_children
    After that I realized that Mr. Barnard was a hack and I rarely waste time engaging him.

  25. As Dan Wrightman knows, the analysis I did when researching his question found that there was zero evidence that children were being harmed. Instead, parents were interpreting — over their doctors’ clear statements to the contrary — standard childhood complaints as being caused by wind farms. In all of the Ontario database of complaints there was one (1) complaint of nosebleeds by a child, and the person entering the issue clearly stated that her doctor told her it was common for kids and the likely reasons, none of which had anything to do with wind energy. She blamed wind farms anyway. I remember that as part of that thread the woman from England who had done extensive work with Chernobyl survivors being aghast at the health hysteria and the absolute lack of evidence.

    Pierpont’s work was once again mediated by biased parents, interpreting very common childhood concerns into something they weren’t.

    That he chooses to misremember this, and that he chooses to continue to spread the lie that I am financially biased toward the wind industry despite numerous corrections, speaks volumes to his intellectual honesty as well. Apparently no tactic is unacceptable in his fight against wind farms, and since he can’t counter anything I say with any facts, evidence or studies, he is quite willing to malign me personally instead.

  26. @solarridge – It appears that most agencies considered water to be “consumed” if it is evaporated. I do not consider evaporated water to be consumed – it will eventually fall as rain somewhere. I am more concerned with fresh water that is permanently removed from us. I’ll agree that mining and drilling operations of all types remove water from our use permanently (or at least for geological time periods).

  27. Mr. Barnard complains about being personaly maligned yet in a comment above he calls Jim Cummings a flake. One wonders if he understands the meaning of the word hypocrite. Perhaps Mr. Barnard might want to explain why he thinks a wikipedia page about children and allegedly false child abuse allegations is good analysis? Could he really be suggesting that child testimonys are untrustworthy and should be ignored or is this just another example of Mr. Barnard grasping at anything to defend his belief in wind turbines, no matter how odious.

  28. @wayne: regarding your odd view of water usage in the generation industry, here’s a solid report by an independent organization to the US Senate.


    Here’s a little article pointing out that global warming accelerated drought — expected to become more widespread over the coming decades and centuries — is causing significant challenges for many thermal generation plants and hydroelectric plants.


    Wind energy uses virtually no water during operation. Thermal plants withdraw enormous amounts of fresh water and require that water to be cold enough to provide cooling; both the quantity and temperature of water are changing due to global warming, as predicted. Near shore, shallow lake water and river water are all increasing in temperature.

    Wind energy’s full lifecycle CO2e emissions are 8 grams per KWh vs 11 grams per KWh for nuclear (nuclear does pretty good on that count), 500 grams per KWh for natural gas (more than 50 times worse) and over 1000 grams per KWh for coal. And wind energy does displace fossil fuel CO2e emissions pretty much one for one on a KWh generated basis. So wind energy is part of the solution for global warming as opposed to being both a casualty of it and a contributor to it.


  29. Sorry Mike, I no longer chase your links – I’ve wasted too much of my time doing so in the past, only to find out they add nothing useful to whatever we were discussing. A quick look at these indicates more of the same.

  30. Evaporation is not what I am talking about. Not sure why you ignore a reference from Mike that includes, among others Sandia National Laboratory. If you want to hide your head in the sand, I guess that is your prerogative…

    But, I hope you look at this link….


    This is a very recent report on water use for the us energy system, by the Union of Concerned Scientists. A very credible organization. Please review, then come back and we can have a proper discussion on water use….

  31. @ solarridge and mike – we were discussing health, not water and I will not get dragged into a disruptive discussion about it. What is with you guys? Are you being disruptive for any particular reason? Besides which, on page 9 of the Sandia link, right column, bottom paragraph, restates what I’ve been saying. Enough of this!

  32. While I don’t follow this website, I was notified of some disparaging remarks about me here, and I have no direct contact with the author of them, so will reply here.

    Yup, I can be a bit long-winded in writing on these issues; I consider that an important antidote to the over-simplification on both sides of the debate. There are lots of subtleties and ambiguities in the data on both sides that need to be acknowledged and at times fleshed out in order to know how to interpret the conclusions being reached.

    If you read my assessments of many of the mainstream literature reviews of health effects, you’ll see that I generally agree with them about the lack of evidence of direct health effects, while encouraging these sorts of studies to consider indirect health effects caused by sleep disruption and stress (the Oregon study was the best at considering stress, both from dealing with turbine noise, and from disruption of social bonds in small towns). And my overview of health research by sympathetic researchers such as Nissenbaum, Shepherd, and others points out that even these folks nearly always focus on sleep and stress, rather than direct health effects; anti-wind groups and locals fearful of other impacts are the main voices speaking of direct effects. In fact, my reticence to buy as deeply into the health effects claims (or infrasound–I consider audible LF noise as much more important), as well as my strong support for more wind energy as part of our energy mix, puts me on the outs with many anti-wind activists. Still, I remain on good terms with many of the acousticians, both cautionary and very mainstream, as well as with researchers at the national labs.

    As for my amateur status, well, I wouldn’t be doing all this if AEI didn’t have funding that pays me a (modest) salary to do this work of putting out clear, unspun information on various sound-related environmental issues, including ocean noise, wind farm noise, and others. My expertise is as an editor and writer, creating a context for understanding complex topics.

    And, I take heart that I’m not all that weak-minded on the wind farm issue, by way of the larger entities that consider my perspective valuable, including the longtime leading trade magazine Renewable Energy World, which asked me to serve on the wind program committee for this year’s conference, where I’ll also be speaking, the DOE-funded New England Wind Energy Education Project, and two state wind information programs (MI and RI) that asked me to peer review their sound-related material. Not to mention my years of playing a similar role of framing contentious issues in ocean noise, including several invitations to serve on expert committees and attend invitation-only agency and oil and gas industry workshops. But I guess it stung a bit, since I am taking the time to lay all that out!

  33. Jim Cummings – why are you not “blowing the whistle” about the public health risk of building wind turbines near homes?!

    You acknowledge that wind turbines are widely believed to cause sleep disturbance. But your writing seems to suggest you don’t even understand what sleep disturbance is!

    Based on my experience having wind turbines built too close to my home (400 metres), ‘sleep disturbance caused by wind turbines’ means that all throughout the night, the constantly changing sounds coming from the wind turbines wakes you from sleep. Trying to get a “good night’s rest” turns into a series of short naps–if you’re lucky. Sometimes you can’t even get yourself to fall asleep at all because the acoustic impacts are so intrusive!

    Can you imagine trying to maintain a normal life if you can no longer depend on being able to rest in your home?

    Jim, you often write that “pro” and “anti” “wind activists” “over-simplify” these issues. From a public health perspective, these matters are very easy to understand: if there is plausibility that wind turbines built too close to homes cause sleep disturbance, then this is very dangerous situation! Failure to recognize this is negligent.

    Excuse us if we don’t have the time to wait for you to try and understand this…

  34. Funny how Wayne does a well thought out 3 part dissection/distruction of the so called 17 health studies yet none of the wind proponents commenting here have challenged his thesis. My guess is they’re lacking a good counter-arguemnt thus the nontopical postings on water etc.

  35. It’s a bit off thread but Wayne states (Post 16):

    “When you’re in a hole, the first priority is to quit digging, and wind turbines are a massive hole. My solution? Education for women, so we can voluntarily get our population under control. Short of that, nothing pleasant will fix our current situation. The only energy solution is nuclear, and I’m not very happy about that. I just don’t see a workable alternative.”

    I think you have that absolutely right.

    There are currently about 1300 coal fired power stations on the drawing boards around the globe.

    The average size of US Coal plants is about 240 Megawatts. In order to replace one average coal plant with IWTs you need about 720 MW of wind (which generally operates at less than a third of rated capacity). That’s 360 large (2 MW) IWTs – each sterilizing about a square kilometer (using Ontario‘s insufficient 550 m setbacks). And you still need to keep the coal station running for when the wind dies.

    To replace 1300 coal stations with IWTs will require nearly 500,000 square kilometers – the area of Spain. And we will still need to build most of the conventional stations as backup.

    Whatever the arguments about Health Impacts (and hopefully the Health Canada study will go some way towards sorting those out) the fact remains that Industrial Wind is ineffective in making any kind of a meaningful dent in carbon emissions. It’s a WOFTAM – we need to be building 4th generation Nukes as fast as we can.

  36. I’m surrounded by half a dozen 1.5 MW turbines, with the closest being about 800m away. I’m in the lee of at least one turbine no matter what the wind direction. I’m definitely in the lee of the closest turbine when the strong southwest winds occur.

    Because of the controversy surrounding wind, I find myself more sensitized to noise than I ever was before. For example. I’m near the outbound flight path from Pearson airport (about 200 km northwest of Toronto) and when I’m outside I now hear every outbound flight that never occurred to me before. Occasionally, with the right wind speed and direction, I can hear one or more turbines when I’m outside. I never hear them inside my home and my sleep is unaffected.

    I’m also struck by the fact that there doesn’t appear to be any level of complaint from host landowners. While not every host is co-located with a turbine, most are. The households would number in the hundreds and the number of people affected must be approaching a thousand. Most, if not all of them, live closer to a turbine than I do.

    Some will say that financial compensation or legal constraints keep these people from talking. I would think that if they were suffering we would have heard something by know.

    We frequently have guests who stay overnight while visiting. They might total 20 different individuals over a year including my young grand-daughter. Other than being able to see the turbines, they have to be “trained” to listen and yet none have experienced any effects.

    Full disclosure – I’m a retired engineer and, while I was retired, I was involved in two wind projects. Obviously, I’m in favour of wind turbines.

  37. I would like to thank Wayne for reviewing the evidence and agreeing that I am not biased in any way by financial ties to the wind industry. I accept his apology wholeheartedly.

  38. Thanks, Malcolm, for your perspective. I’m always glad to get first-hand evidence. I’m a little confused on your location. 200km NW of Toronto is out in Lake Huron, so the “about” is somewhere along the coast? I’m also confused about the outbound flight path from Pearson. I’d think all jets would be at cruising altitude by the time they are 200 km out.

  39. @ Mike Barnard… the manner in which you portray what has now become the politically infamous “17 reviews” is a bastardization of scientific method. Academically, reviews are meant to precede and give credence to hypothesis for further study. Reviews are not scientific studies in and of themselves, but a way to gather together related empirically derived inferences which appear to support and reflect convergent variables (factors). A review of quantitative empirical research simply suggests or validates the merits for further study and replication. An unfortunate aspect of this particular scientific premise is that linguistic sophistication and bluster in the populist narrative has become the criterion for the cultural institutionalization of mitigation strategies, such as IWTs, based on seemingly related linear inferences. With the actual empirically based research in this respect, the linear relationships between variables (factors) is a necessary precursor to multivariate (multidimensional) factor analysis. The problem is, in this respect, that these linear relationships, correlations of measured variables, are being used without appropriate empirical factor analysis validation to regulate public health policy… this is a presumptuous and inappropriate representation of scientific method. Take for example the linear graphic representations of anthropogenic climate change in the recently leaked IPCC (in construction) 2014 report. The authors (creators) of these graphs have altered and selectively varied the x axis’, y axis’ or both, to attempt to illustrate convergent relationships over time and space. This allows them to overlay these graphics for dramatic visual effect and confirmation. This is a particularly disingenuous technique since it does not truly represent any actual empirically derived dimensional relationships of these factors. Don’t get me wrong here, I’m not a denier… common sense tells me that when we increasingly pollute the biosphere with technology derived and produced particulate chemical isolates, it is going to alter the “balance”, the magic of Gaia so to speak, which is likely to have unfortunate consequences, in our human perception.

  40. Malcolm Hamilton – how fortunate you are that there isn’t a wind turbine 550 metres away (or less) from your home! And that the wind turbines near your home are significantly smaller (less intrusive) than most wind turbines that are being built today! Also how fortunate you are that you perceive you’re not being affected by the wind turbines. Too bad everyone isn’t as fortunate as you!

    Say, would an engineer who was involved in a wind turbing project have liability for negligence if the wind turbine project was found to be causing harm to people? Would this be considered a “bias”?

  41. And @ Mike Barnard… presenting your views as unbiased on the basis of any “industry” connection you may or may not have is an irrelevant distraction at best. The belief you present that scientists like Simon Chapman, with a long list of credentials behind his name are somehow above suspicion is daft. Scientists, being as subject to human nature as the rest of us, can be and are at times corrupted or biased just like in any other profession. This indictment also applies to “peer review”. In addition, of the only four actual empirical quantitative research studies that correlate IWT noise with a qualitative aspect of health, two of which simply rework the data from the other two where the data was collected, none of these studies has as of yet been deconstructed for efficacy and replication. And, given the enormous global financial implications, academic honors, research funding and media adulation procured by well financed IWT lobbyist organizations, this would necessarily skew the populist narrative towards those scientists who support the status quo of the wind industry. Skepticism is a necessary prerequisite to rigorous scientific investigation and is the only way we have to identify corruption or an egotistical inability on a scientist’s part to admit they’re wrong. I immediately become suspicious when a scientist uses ascientific references such as “NIMBY” and a loaded pejorative narrative related to other health issues such as cigarette smoking caused cancer. In my view, any scientist that uses the media to belittle or suppress skepticism and competing theories and evidence is hopelessly corrupt having abandoned the scientific method that requires allowing replication of one’s work by critics to see whether it can remain standing. In Chapman’s case, he has yet to produce any empirical research on wind turbine noise and health, to validate his “nocebo” contention in this respect.

  42. Wayne, I live in what is called the Dundalk Highlands. It’s 200km NW of Toronto based on my odometer. There is an outbound flight path from YYZ to points west, like Edmonton, Winnipeg, etc. The flight path parallels Hwy 10 until altitude is reached over Lake Huron. In other words, the aircraft are still climbing when they over-fly my area. I’m also nearby the inbound flight path but those aircraft are basically gliding and can’t be heard.

    NIABY, the sound limits at a residence are independent of the size of the nearby turbine. They are still 40 dbA and the setbacks are determined from that test. If the test is met at less than 550m, the 550m setback is still applied. In my experience, and you can read the sound studies in the environmental submissions, 550m is usually the limiting number and the sound levels at residences are less than 40dbA.

    You didn’t comment on the fact that hundreds of host landowners aren’t exhibiting any adverse effects.

    While I didn’t actually perform the designs, if I did I would fully expect to be held responsible. I’ve designed many other projects involving large electrical equipment and placed my personal P.Eng. stamp on the documents. It’s something that’s not done lightly.

  43. Malcolm Hamilton — are you intentionally misrepresenting the facts?

    Your statement “If the test is met at less than 550m, the 550m setback is still applied.” is incorrect.

    You ought to know that all around Ontario wind turbines have been built much closer than 550 metres from homes. These projects were approved under the regulations that preceded the Green Energy Act, which actually INCREASED the minimum separation to 550 metres.

    Good thing you’re not working as a P.Eng! Sloppy misrepresentations like this can have material effects on people!

    Also, you ought to understand that a lot of concern about wind turbine sound emissions relates to the effects of living within the turbulence created by the blades. Obviously the turbulence created depends on the size, etc, of the blades. You ought to know that concerns about wind turbine sound emissions extend far beyond “dba” “calculations,” contrary to what government and industry would have us believe. So I disagree with you that “sound limits at a residence are independent of the size of the nearby wind turbine.”

    To your point that not all landowners “hosting” wind turbines are complaining… all I can say is that everybody’s different. And that it would be very naive to think that all people reporting adverse health effects are lying, delusional or psychosomatically producing these symptoms.

    You also ought to be aware that the case for negligence has been building over the last many years. If landowners “hosting” wind turbines don’t understand their liabilities should the wind turbines be found to be causing damage, then you may be in for a rude awakening. I have no doubt that some “hosts” are denying or exaggerating the actual impacts of wind turbines, so as not to ‘lose the farm’ should the facts become known.

    Perhaps the only thing we agree about is that a Professional Engineer has great responsibilities. I look forward to the day that Ontario P.Eng’s who’ve acted negligently have their licenses taken away. These are very dangerous people!

  44. NIABY, you are correct that there are two classes of setbacks based on pre and post GEA. However, all installations have used 40 dbA and/or 550m as the limiting criteria. My point was that the introduction of the 550m criterion under the GEA has essentially reduced the 40 dbA limit. No misrepresentation implied.

    You assert that host landowners are “denying or exaggerating the actual impacts of wind turbines”. I personally know well over fifty host landowners and have never heard a single complaint about health concerns. In fact, they express bewilderment about the complaints by their neighbours. And they like their neighbours. Of those fifty, forty are from pre-GEA projects. While you “have no doubt”, I suggest that readers of this blog would appreciate some evidence behind your assertions.

    I believe that all posters on blogs should use their full names, as verified by the administrator of the blog. There have been cases of organizations using avatars to promote their causes, although I’m not suggesting that you fit that description. I just believe, as policy, we should all sign our public statements with our real names. In the future, I will not respond to NIABY, but I’d be pleased to respond to whoever he/she is.

    Finally, since we agree that Professional Engineers have great responsibilities, let me suggest that they also have the right to due process when their reputation is challenged. There is a well defined process for the public to bring a complaint before the registering body. I suggest that you take a look at the Professional Engineers Ontario website (http://www.peo.on.ca), specifically the document “Making a Complaint”. The process is not swift but it is thorough. You’ll need to use your real name, though :)

  45. @ Malcolm Hamilton… you state “I personally know well over fifty host landowners and have never heard a single complaint about health concerns. In fact, they express bewilderment about the complaints by their neighbours. And they like their neighbours. Of those fifty, forty are from pre-GEA projects.”
    This assertion is an unverifiable narrative contrivance which forms the basis of your rebuttal to NIABY. Your comment also includes two suggestive inferences of malfeasance. To give a notion of virtue to these unsubstantiated assertions you then conclude with an ad hominem criticism of the pseudonymous character of NIABY.
    Simply not clever… although I’m sure you perceive it to be so.

  46. Malcolm – I happen to know who NIABY is. He is legitimate. You mention “cases of organizations using avatars…”. That may be true, but in my 5-year+ experience in the anti-wind movement I’m not aware of any significant industrial activity in it. Proponents can’t seem to accept that a bunch of us have researched this to death and have decided on our own that it needs to be fought.

  47. Wayne – thanks for certifying that I exist! Now that that’s out of the way..

    Malcolm, if I felt that Professional Engineers of Ontario were behaving reasonably about the health and safety risks of wind turbines across the province, I wouldn’t be posting on this website in the first place.

    I will remember your name, Malcolm Hamilton, when I consider the list of Ontario P. Eng.’s who’ve offered opinions about matters that people like you obviously fail to understand. I wholeheartedly believe that wind turbine tragedies across the world are the result of too many unqualified people feeling entitled to offer opinions. This has caused real damage for victims.

    This is obviously not the forum for me to explain to you why I have “no doubt” that some hosts are denying or exaggerating the true impacts of wind turbines.

    I can say that I have perceived the low frequency “sensation” that is widely reported by people around the world in close proximity to wind turbines, (including by Officers within Ontario’s MOE.)

    If you can come to respect the reasons why witnesses like me would use “nicknames” when posting online like this, I would be interested in your comments about the Shirley, Wisconsin report that came out a couple of weeks ago. Would you say that this report is evidence that there is NOT a problem caused by wind turbines there?

    Also, since you demonstrate understanding of the Ontario government’s “official positions” about wind turbines, what would you say about the fact that Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Arlene King, testified to the Standing Committee on July 23, 2012, stating: “I think, first and foremost, I just want to say that I stand by the conclusions I made in my study of 2010. The weight of the evidence does not support any direct health effects associated with wind turbines if they are appropriately placed, and that is within a 550-metre setback.”

    Notice how Dr. King intentionally didn’t say that it’s her opinion that setbacks less than 550 metres are considered “appropriately placed”? It’s seems inappropriate that a professional engineer would be willing to certify the health risks of separations less than 550 metres, when Ontario’s CMOH will not.

    It’s not considered to be “reasonable” — in fact I consider it to be “reckless”– when professional engineers remain silent about ‘ought to be known’ health and safety risks.

    So, what do you think should be done to address health-related complaints being made by Ontarians whose homes are located less than 550 metres from the closest wind turbines?

  48. There are now 19 reviews, excluding the CanWea page in point 11 which you call out so unflatteringly.

    They all continue to find no reason to suspect wind turbines are causes of human health issues.

    And of course every Environmental Tribunal in Ontario that has assessed wind energy and health risks has found no reason to believe that wind farms will cause health concerns. Ostrander Points ERT dismissed health concerns after careful consideration, including assessing the medical records of those complaining and finding that for the most part they had serious pre-existing medical conditions which much more credibly explained their symptoms than wind farms; they reasonably found that additional mitigations at least were required for an endangered species. http://envirolaw.com/ostrander-wind-farm-access-road-bad-turtles/

    The Dufferin Wind Power project in Melancthon dismissed health concerns as well, while dismissing Sarah Laurie in her entirety and almost all pieces of evidence she attempted to introduce. It also dismissed Dr. McMurtry’s evidence as being of low credibility and no additional value compared to direct testimony by those claiming health impacts. And the people who claimed health impacts once again had medical records which showed clearly that wind farms weren’t the cause of their health complaints. And it dismissed environmental concerns and the foolish human rights complaint. http://barnardonwind.com/2014/01/08/ontario-tribunal-dismisses-health-scares-and-health-scarers/

    The Armow Wind development in Kincardine ERT is going to find the same thing, of course. http://www.saugeentimes.com/38%20y/Schmidt%20at%20Armow%20Wind%20hearing%20dec%2029,%202013/Template.htm

    So your post is continuing to fall further and further away from reality.

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