Modern wind turbine projects typically include large numbers of industrial scale wind turbines which stand nearly 400 feet tall and produce some megawatts of electricity. In addition to the turbines themselves there is an accompanying infrastructure of sprawling high voltage transformer stations and miles of transmission lines. In Ontario some of these industrial machines have been built within 350 metres from family homes. It is now emerging that whenever industrial wind turbines have been located near peoples' homes, family members are reporting adverse health effects. Some of these families have been forced to abandon their homes in order to protect their health. This phenomenon is occurring world wide, not just in
Electrical generation from industrial wind turbines is a relatively new phenomena globally and particularly in Ontario. Over a number of years, international media have reported adverse human health effects attributed to wind turbine complexes.
Researchers and victims have reported altered living conditions, loss of enjoyment of homes and property, and ill health as a result of industrial wind turbines. The adverse health reports are consistent globally and across 3 continents.
Major wind turbine projects were launched in 2006 in Ontario and within a short time, reports about ill health started to appear. In January, 2009, Wind Concerns Ontario solicited volunteers to conduct a health survey. Distribution of the community-based self reporting health survey started in March 2009.
The findings of the health survey were presented on April 22, by Dr. Robert McMurtry, former Dean of Medicine at the University of Western Ontario, to the Ontario Government's Standing Committee while it was examining Bill 150, the Green Energy Act. With the efforts of volunteers and a nominal budget from donations, the health survey revealed that out of 76 respondents, 53 reported at least one adverse health effect they suspect is related to industrial wind turbine exposure. The average number of symptoms per individual reported was 5.
The health survey is ongoing and as result the number of 53 victims has since risen to 86 as responses continue to be submitted.
Sleep disturbance was the most common complaint. Other health complaints include inner ear problems, mood disturbances, cardiac arrhythmias, and headaches. Several suffered acute hypertensive episodes which are most serious and worrisome.
Comments provided by respondents are both revealing and disturbing. No authority or compassionate member of our society can ignore the moving descriptions of the victims' experiences. They describe disturbed living conditions, loss of quality of life and enjoyment of their home and property, financial loss and the negative impact to the health of their families, including children. These comments are included in this report.
This community-based self reporting survey fills a void regarding the lack of a Canadian vigilance and surveillance program for industrial wind turbines. The willingness of the victims to participate in the survey serves to reinforce the critical need for a robust vigilance program which encourages victims to self report suspected adverse health effects from these industrial wind turbines. In addition, long term surveillance is required. There are unanswered questions about infants, children, and the unborn whose mothers are exposed, family members and workers such as farmers and technicians who live and work in close proximity to the wind turbines.
When uncertainty exists and the health and well-being of people are potentially at risk, it is appropriate to invoke the precautionary principle. Until these authoritative guidelines are put in place based on the best available evidence, the Province of Ontario ought not to proceed with any further development of industrial wind turbines.
The development of these guidelines must be based on a rigorous epidemiological evaluation of the adverse health effects of industrial wind turbines.