The greatest debate for the wind industry remains to be the implications of wind energy on human health. As someone in the industry, it can be incredibly frustrating to hear anti-wind lobbyists spread outrageous claims, especially when we know that thousands of deaths each year are caused by pollutants from other forms of energy generation.
Health Canada along with Statistics Canada have decided to join forces on a study that will measure the health of people located within 10 kilometres of wind turbines. The study has already started in May and will continue on until November.
Here’s how the study will work: Scientists will use hair samples to measure cortisol levels, in addition to heart rates, blood pressure, and sleeping patterns.
According to the contract notice, “The objective of the contract is to analyse hair cortisol concentrations from hair samples collected during the community noise and health study. The hair cortisol concentrations will be added to the data file for this survey and analysed in relationship to other measures of health and respondent demographics. Specifically, the hair cortisol results will be used to assess if there is a relationship between levels of systemic stress and distance from wind turbines.”
David Michaud, who will be leading the study, stated, “We cannot say that, no matter what the cortisol value looks like, that it’s being caused by the wind turbine noise…What we can say is that when we look at the average values in people that live, say, in the higher areas versus the lower areas, there is or there is not an association in terms of the concentrations. So we can draw a line through those averages and apply statistical modelling and see whether or not the association is there. But at this point, it’s only an association. You haven’t established causality.”
As you can imagine, CANWEA (Canadian Wind Energy Association) has started a review of this study and President, Robert Hornung commented, “Based on our initial review, it appears that while some modifications have been made to the study design, many elements of the fundamental approach proposed have not changed… CANWEA will be taking more time to review the revised Health Canada study design in more detail before coming to any formal conclusions on its ability to contribute to a greater scientific understanding of these issues.”
Do you think this study will help to draw better conclusions about the implications of wind energy on human health or just create more confusion?
Earlier, we wrote about the health implications of other energy sources. Which energy generation method looks most appealing? My vote is still on wind energy!