“Speaking on RTÉ’s This Week, Mr White said “the whole world needs to de-carbonise” and renewable energy was part of that. Onshore wind energy was the most cost-effective renewable energy currently available for Ireland.
Mr White said there was no evidence for the claim that wind turbines were a threat to people’s health, though it was the case that they could cause irritation and annoyance. He said he thought improvements could be made on the issues of noise and shadow flickering.”
To back up this preposterous statement, which was so glibly delivered to the Irish public on national radio; but which is wholly contrary to a wealth of peer-reviewed research, Mr White relied on a “robust” Canadian study.
Unfortunately, the study on which the Minister relied has been described as “fraudulent” and “deliberately misleading”.
The study was by “Health Canada”, a government-funded ‘think-tank’ with close ties to the wind industry.
The methodology of this research (which was never peer-reviewed before publication) was described as follows:
“The study was undertaken in two Canadian provinces, Ontario (ON) and Prince Edward Island (PEI), where there were a sufficient number of homes within the vicinity of wind turbine installations. The study consisted of three primary components: an in-person questionnaire, administered by Statistics Canada to randomly selected participants living at varying distances from wind turbine installations; collection of objectively measured outcomes that assess hair cortisol, blood pressure and sleep quality; and, more than 4000 hours of WTN measurements conducted by Health Canada to support the calculation of WTN levels at residences captured in the study scope. To support the assessment and reporting of data, and permit comparisons to other studies, residences were grouped into different categories of calculated outdoor A-weighted WTN levels as follows: less than 25 dB; 25-<30dB; 30-<35dB; 35-<40dB; and greater than or equal to 40 dB”.
The report has been savaged by a number of prominent researchers.
Sarah Laurie has a Bachelor of Medicine and a Bachelor of Surgery from Flinders University (1995) and is CEO of the WAUBRA Foundation (http://waubrafoundation.org.au/), a medical research organisation conducting research into the health effects of wind turbines. Dr Laurie is regarded as one of the leading medical experts in the world for her research into the health effects of wind turbines. She had the following to say:
“For too long vested interests have got away with labelling these courageous professionals as “anti – wind” and ignored the message that there is a very real problem. Far too often the interests of the wind industry, and governments and bureaucracies promoting wind technology have had far too much influence in ignoring the evident problems. Some of the comments in the information provided about the Health Canada study, together with the lack of participation of those researchers with the most knowledge of the situation at existing IWD in Canada such as Dr Robert McMurtry and Ms Carmen Krogh, give me cause for grave concern about the true intentions and motivations of those conducting this research. This will inevitably result in an outcome which is not trusted, and which may be less than useful in truly understanding the depth and extent of the problems, which would seem to be a waste of precious research resources, time and effort. I would urge the committee to consider these comments and make appropriate changes, to improve the design of the study, broaden the range of personnel involved, and thereby improve the usefulness of the research.”
“It appears that this vitally important existing knowledge about what happens to people who are exposed to LFN, has somehow been “forgotten”, or never “discovered” by almost all medical practitioners, public health experts, and seemingly most acousticians working for the wind industry.
It is worth highlighting that for those sensitized to wind turbine LFN, it would appear the only solution currently for these sick people in Canada, as in other parts of the world, is to abandon their homes. This is currently happening, with “wind turbine refugees” being reported in many countries. Until relatively recently, their plight and their suffering has been largely hidden from public view.”
To comment on portions of the Health Canada study itself (portion first in bold, Dr Laurie’s comment after):
“Health Canada, in collaboration with Statistics Canada, will undertake a cross-‐sectional field study to evaluate these self-‐reported health impacts and symptoms of illness against objective biomarkers of stress and the sound levels generated by wind turbines, including low frequency noise. This data will be correlated with calculated wind turbine noise so that any potential relationship to reported health symptoms can be reliably determined”
Dr Laurie commented:
“I am concerned that this process is too far removed from the actual measurement of acoustic emissions inside homes and the direct human physiological responses to be of any use whatsoever. It ignores both the individual variability of response (some people being more susceptible than others) and it is ignoring that over time people’s responses will change. So the responses when people are relatively wind turbine “naïve” which may be normal initially, will be likely to be substantially different if remeasured some time later (months – years).”
“The research design includes a computer-‐assisted personal interview using a questionnaire consisting of modules that probe endpoints such as noise annoyance, quality of life, sleep quality, stress, chronic illnesses and perceived impacts on health”
Dr Laurie commented:
“This process and the materials used needs much more transparency. The questionnaire itself is unknown, and the clinical training of those administering the questionnaire is also not clear. For too long, trained skilled experienced general physicians have not been involved in collecting the front line clinical data – and the results of those who have done so on their own initiative (eg Dr Amanda Harry (UK), Dr David Iser, (Australia), Dr Nina Pierpont, (USA), Dr Robert McMurtry, (Canada) and myself (Australia) have been universally ignored by the health authorities, particularly those in public health departments. Good clinical skills are essential in order to properly detect these problems with appropriate questioning, and there is no evidence that this crucial ingredient has been taken into account.”
“Sampling will be conducted on volunteers that are at least 18 years of age”
Dr Laurie comments:
“This excludes children, who are one of the most vulnerable groups in our society with respect to their exposure to operating wind turbines. This was identified in the previous section and highlighted in red by me – “the most vulnerable groups such as children, the chronically ill, and the elderly”. Indeed they are the most vulnerable to the effects of chronic exposure to operating wind turbines, and therefore I suggest they need to be a priority in the study design, and it is not clear to me that the chronically ill and the elderly have been identified as a priority.
Young children and teenagers are already reported to be suffering from sleep deprivation, cognitive problems, behavioural problems, and inner ear problems, and this is being reported by their parents, their teachers, and in some instances their treating doctors. Dr Pierpont’s case data contains multiple examples, and affidavits and witness statements lodged for court actions in Ontario alone contain others.
Any health study purporting to investigate adverse health effects of operating wind turbines must not exclude the most vulnerable members of our society.”
Other quotable comments by Dr Laurie on the Health Canada study speak for themselves:
“The proposed method in this study for determining whether or not there is a change in blood pressure resulting from exposure to operating wind turbines is useless.”
“The hair cortisol measure could well be very useful as an indicator of chronic stress if reliable normative values have been established, and if it is possible to get a reasonably reliable estimate of likely individual exposure to the full spectrum of acoustic frequencies by gathering representative sample data of actual measurements inside homes, NOT estimates or calculations. It is not clear if this is contemplated with this study from the limited information provided.”
“Experienced sleep physician colleagues advise that actigraphy is a very crude measure of sleep disturbance, because it measures body movement, which can misrepresent the true sleep experience, and true arousals. They have suggested that much more useful information would come from using in home sleep studies “in the field” combined with concurrent full spectrum acoustic monitoring, and usage of a pulse transit time (PTT) device as an estimate of blood pressure which is non invasive and will not cause disturbance of its own.”
Dr Laurie concludes her report thus:
The study design proposed by Health Canada has numerous serious flaws.
The selection of personnel would appear to specifically exclude those with direct independent clinical and acoustic field research experience in this area, and include those who have vested interests to protect or ideologies to promote. It does not appear that experienced clinicians have been extensively consulted with respect to the study design.
The choice of less than gold standard techniques for collecting the clinical / physiological data will not yield the most useful results, if indeed the aim is to investigate why these reported effects are occurring and what is directly causing them.
Significant changes, as suggested, would need to be made to make the most of this important opportunity to objectively investigate the serious health problems being reported. If these changes are not adopted, the information obtained could well be less than useful, and at worst could be misleading..
This outcome is in no one’s interests, least of all the wind industry itself.
Dr Sarah Laurie, Chief Executive Officer, Waubra Foundation”
Dr Laurie later told reporters:
“The Canadian studies by Health Canada are fraudulent in my view, and were never designed to investigate the problem – that was obvious from the study design. I critiqued it in detail but of course they took no notice: because the intention was always to manufacture propaganda to allow the party to continue. An absolute disgrace…”.
The report by Dr. Laurie is too extensive to fully reproduce, but the full report and critique of the Health Canada study can be found here: http://waubrafoundation.org.au/resources/laurie-s-comments-proposed-health-canada-study/
The Health Canada study was similarly savaged by many other leading researchers. These reviews can be found here: http://waubrafoundation.org.au/library/responses-health-canada/
And the Minister is basing his national policy on this “robust study”?
Oh no, Alex!