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An ill wind for McGuinty

Lorrie Goldstein — Toronto Sun — November 3, 2012

One of the worst things the Dalton McGuinty government did in its disastrous dash into green energy was to ride roughshod over the health complaints of rural Ontarians regarding industrial wind turbines.

Basically McGuinty dismissed them as NIMBYS.

That is, people who weren’t really suffering any ill health effects from wind turbines other than “Not In My Back Yard Syndrome” — NIMBYism for short.

The Liberal government cited studies — many from the wind industry itself — claiming no adverse health effects from wind turbines, and a report by Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Arlene King, concluding there were no “direct links” between wind turbines and ill health.

But wind farm opponents are now armed with a new weapon — a controlled, peer-reviewed, scientific study published in the current issue of the periodical Noise and Health which for the first time links industrial wind turbine noise and vibration to serious health problems.

The study — “Effects of industrial wind turbine noise on sleep and health” — assessed two wind farm communities in Maine and was first reported by my Sun Media colleague Jonathan Sher of the London Free Press.

Its authors, Michael Nissenbaum of the Northern Maine Medical Centre, Jeffery Aramini of Intelligent Health Solutions in Guelph, Ont. and Christopher Hanning of the University Hospitals of Leicester in the UK, made the following findings:

“We conclude that the noise emissions of IWTs (industrial wind turbines) disturbed the sleep and caused daytime sleepiness and impaired mental health in residents living within 1.4 km of the two IWT installations studied. Industrial wind turbine noise is a further source of environmental noise, with the potential to harm human health. Current regulations seem to be insufficient to adequately protect the human population living close to IWTs. Our research suggests that adverse effects are observed at distances even beyond 1 km. Further research is needed to determine at what distances risks become negligible, as well as to better estimate the portion of the population suffering from adverse effects at a given distance.” Meanwhile, the McGuinty government has been assuring us that its minimum 550-metre setback for industrial wind turbines reduces noise levels to the equivalent of “a quiet library.”

Then again, we also know, thanks to reporting by the CBC during last year’s Ontario election, that the McGuinty government received hundreds of health complaints from people across the province living near wind turbines and suppressed them.

(To continue reading, click here)

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