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CanWEA stands behind ‘their’ health studies, in light of Dr. Lynn and Arra’s report

Rob Gowan — Lucknow Sentinel — February 26, 2013

While the trade association that promotes wind energy in Canada is welcoming Dr. Hazel Lynn’s research into the effects of wind turbines on human health, it is standing behind the technology as a safe energy source.

“We welcome new research, we will review it and consider it but we are still quite confident that the balance of evidence to date shows that wind turbines do not have an impact on human health,” Robert Hornung, president of the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA), said in a telephone interview on Monday.

Lynn, the Grey-Bruce medical officer of health, and research assistant Dr. Ian Arra presented the Grey Bruce Board of Health with a report on Friday that concluded wind turbines cause distress among people who live near them. The report was the culmination of a comprehensive review of the most current and credible studies around the world on the effects of wind turbines.

Hornung said Monday he was familiar with the work done by Lynn and Arra, but hasn’t yet been able to fully review it.

“We welcome new research and we continue to monitor ongoing research in this area, so we do look forward to reviewing it in more detail,” he said. “This type of literature review is important because there is a lot of research going on and research is continually evolving.”

Arra, a medical doctor with a master’s degree in clinical epidemiology, spent the last few months conducting the review. He focused on 18 peer-reviewed studies that concentrated on noise issues related to the turbines.

Not one of the studies didn’t find an effect of distress and three of the studies showed the closer the person to the turbine, the more distress there is. Arra cautioned the board that associating wind turbines to distress is not the same as hard evidence of cause and effect.

Hornung said a summary of the study that he saw indicated the conclusion was that there was an association between turbines and distress, but from an evidence basis that association was weak. He added the report also concluded there was no causal linkage found.

“Again, from our perspective the balance of evidence remains clear,” said Hornung. “Wind turbines do not have an impact on human health.”

The Grey-Bruce board requested the review last fall after an appeal from local residents who said they were suffering ill health from the massive turbines and wanted help.

On Friday, Arra and Lynn said there was at least enough evidence to suggest larger setbacks than the current 550 metres in Ontario are needed. But Hornung said the setbacks Ontario has established are consistent with setbacks around the world. The Ontario government was actually taken to court on the 550-m setback and it was determined the government had done a good job at reviewing the science-based evidence that was available when establishing its guidelines, Hornung said.

“We think there is no reason to adjust the setback,” he said.

The effect of turbines on human health continues to be studied. Starting in May, Health Canada will be conducting a study to help understand the impact of low-frequency noise and vibrations from wind turbines. The University of Waterloo is also studying wind turbine effects. Hornung said his association will look closely at those reports as well.

“We will continue to ensure that our work reflects the best available science,” said Hornung.

(To continue reading, click here)

Related article in the Owen Sound Sun Times

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