Critique of Ontario Chief Medical Officer report “The Potential Health Impacts of Wind Turbines May 2010”

In the fall of 2009 Dr. Arlene King, Chief Medical Officer of Health for Ontario (CMOH), took on the task of investigating the issue of industrial wind turbines and potential adverse health effects. On May 20, 2010, the Chief Medical Officer of Health of Ontario (CMOH) issued “The Potential Health Impacts of Wind Turbines May 2010” (CMOH Review). In response, an analysis was conducted by The Society for Wind Vigilance of the CMOH Review. The executive summary of the report is provided below. The full report prepared by Society for Wind Vigilance can be accessed via the links below.


"The Potential Health Impacts of Wind Turbines May 2010" (CMOH Review) is a literature review and contains no original research. As a consequence the report has little relevance to addressing the issues of adverse health effects of an emerging technology. The report does acknowledge the relative paucity of existing medical evidence but paradoxically declines to offer any remedial action - to wit further research.

In addition the conclusions of the CMOH Review are not supported by the content of the references cited and other relevant authoritative references.

Studies of European wind turbine facilities have consistently concluded that wind turbine noise is more annoying than other commonly experienced noise sources such as traffic, aircraft and rail.

Current research demonstrates that annoyance must not be trivialized. Annoyance is acknowledged to be an adverse health effect which contributes to stress, sleep disturbance and an increased risk of regulation diseases.

"Annoyance with wind turbine noise was associated with psychological distress, stress, difficulties to fall asleep and sleep interruption."

Instead the CMOH Review misleadingly asserts "40 dB... limit is consistent with limits used to control noise from other commonly experienced environmental sources."

Unfortunately current Ontario noise guidelines for industrial wind turbines permit, in principle, levels up to 51 dBA at a family home 24 hours a day. These noise levels are significant as an increase of 10 dBA is a 10-fold increase in acoustic energy.

The CMOH Review acknowledges that Ontario does not have a protocol to verify compliance with these wind turbine noise limits nor has Ontario determined appropriate guidelines for wind turbine low frequency noise.

The CMOH Report appears to be a government-convened attempt to justify unsound practices of wind turbine development while denying the adverse health effects being reported by Ontario families.

The Society for Wind Vigilance does concur with the CMOH Review on one point. World Health Organization guidance on noise and health is authoritative and must be adhered to in order to protect human health. In view of this accord many of the references contained in this analysis are direct citations from the World Health Organization.

This acknowledgement by the CMOH Review puts to rest the wind energy industry's position that World Health Organization standards regarding community noise are irrelevant to industrial wind turbine regulations.

World Health Organization endorses the precautionary principle to protect human health and well-being in the presence of potential health threats.

However the CMOH Report does not reference the precautionary principle. In addition the report ignores authoritative recommendations such as "The need for guidelines for maximum exposure to wind turbine noise is urgent..." 

It is imperative that development of authoritative setbacks and noise guideline be based on independent third party clinical research. It is remarkable that a public health authority denies the need for evidence-based regulations.

Cmoh Analysis June 03 2010 1

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JUN 3 2010
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