Health Issues

It has been a long time coming: a peer-reviewed study demonstrating that public health is indeed impacted by wind turbine noise. Read it here:

Effects of industrial wind turbine noise on sleep and health: Nissenbaum et al.

LONDON, Ontario, Nov. 2 (UPI) — Opponents to wind farms who allege health risks have their first scientific support in a peer-reviewed study linking proximity to turbines to illness. An article, published in the “Noise and Health” journal, gave optimism to some people in rural and agricultural southwestern Ontario, where wind farms are proliferating despite resistance from residents, the London (Ontario) Free Press reported.

The scientific journal addressed a study done in Maine by Canadian epidemiologist Jeffery Aramini that suggested people living within a mile of wind turbines experienced more sleep deprivation and mental health issues than those further away. “The reality is that some people are getting sick,” Aramini said. “As a public health person, I can’t wrap my head around [government inaction].”

Opponents in Ontario have been rebuffed for several years by the provincial government and health officials, who said there was no scientific basis for health concerns. Esther Wrightman, who leads one local opposition group near Strathroy, Ontario, called the report a breakthrough. “I view it as a huge step forward. It definitely gives credibility to our case,” she said.

Read more:


The Acoustics Ecology Institute

Jan 14, 2013

In December, four acoustic consulting firms collaborated to study wind turbine noise at three Brown County, Wisconsin homes that had been abandoned by their owners after the nearby Shirley Wind Project began operations. The study, organized by regional environmental group Clean Wisconsin and paid for by the state Public Regulatory Commission, will help inform the PRC’s consideration of a proposed new wind farm in the area.

Two things stand out about this new study. The first is the choice to bring together several acousticians who have previously been widely cited by opposite sides of the turbine siting debate. The study team included one firm (Hessler and Associates) commonly hired to do sound assessments for wind developers, another (Rand Acoustics) that has become widely championed by concerned citizens groups because of its much more cautionary assessment of turbine noise, and a third (Schomer and Associates) whose work has often been in the middle ground, with particular papers being seized on by each side in the siting debate; the fourth firm (Channel Islands Acoustics) has worked much less on wind farm issues than the other three. This diverse group of acousticians produced a 13-page consensus report (edited to 12 pages in the final version submitted to the PSC), along with an appendix report from each team, all of which focus on different aspects of the study that they found most compelling.

The second virtue of this study is that it clearly documented, for the first time, specific sources of infrasound (sound at frequencies below 20Hz) and low-frequency noise (audible sound above about 20Hz) from turbines that are consistently measurable inside homes…

10th International Congress on Noise as a Public Health Problem, 2011, London UK
Nissenbaum et al ICBEN2011_0158_final
Participant selection

The Mars Hill (ME) site is a linear arrangement of 28 General Electric 1.5 megawatt turbines, sited on a ridgeline. The Vinalhaven site is a cluster of three similar turbines, sited on a flat tree covered island. All residents living within 1.5 km of an IWT at each site were identified via tax maps, and approached either door to door or via telephone and asked to participate in the study. Homes were visited up to three times or until contact was made. Those below the age of 18 or with a diagnosed cognitive disorder were excluded. A random sample of households in a similar socioeconomic area 3 to 7 km away from IWTs at each site was chosen to participate in the study as a control group. Households were approached door-to-door until a similar number of participants were enrolled.

… We conclude that IWT noise at these two sites disrupts the sleep and adversely affects the health of those living nearby. The current ordinances determining setback are in- adequate to protect the residents and setbacks of less than 1.5 km must be regarded as unsafe. Further research is needed to determine a safe setback distance and to investi- gate the mechanisms of causation.”


Wind Turbines can be Hazardous to Human Health

Alec N. Salt, Ph.D., Cochlear Fluids Research Laboratory, Washington University in St. Louis.
Updated 8/15/2012

Large wind turbines generate very low frequency sounds and infrasound (below 20 Hz) when the wind driving them is turbulent. The amount of infrasound depends on many factors, including the turbine manufacturer, wind speed, power output, local topography, and the presence of nearby turbines (increasing when the wake from one turbine enters the blades of another). The infrasound cannot be heard and is unrelated to the loudness of the sound that you hear. Infrasound can only be measured with a sound level meter capable of detecting it (and not using the A-weighted scale). Video cameras and other recording devices are not sensitive to infrasound and do not reproduce it.

We have updated our website to include our recent data on a number of topics. It includes both our paper and presentation given this week at InterNoise 2012 in New York. “sound bites”:

1) The ear’s responses to infrasound can be enormous – over 4 times larger than to sounds you can hear presented at even the loudest levels.

2) The ear’s response to low frequency noise at 45 dBA is larger than to wide band noise presented at even the loudest levels.

The ear is getting “overstimulated” by low frequency noises at low dBA levels and by infrasound.

3) There are at least 4 scientifically-supported mechanisms by which low frequency sounds that you can’t hear can indeed affect you.

And we have more on the way! I have never been more convinced that long-term exposure to low frequency noise is really dangerous.

Alec Salt

Alec N. Salt, Professor
Department of Otolaryngology, Box 8115
Washington University School of Medicine
660 South Euclid
St. Louis, MO, 63110

Fairhaven Massachusetts
Your View: Let’s see Fairhaven Wind’s SCADA data
Curt Devlin lives in Fairhaven.
August 25, 2012 12:00 AM

In an article in The Standard-Times dated Aug. 14, Ariel Wittenberg reported on the recent noise compliance testing being conducted by the DEP on the turbines in Fairhaven (“State says turbine noise test safeguarded against tampering”). The testing is little more than a bit of performance art, designed to appease those who are ignorant about the ill health effects caused by these industrial monstrosities. The most these noise measurements can show is that turbines comply with a law crafted in 1962 for the purpose of measuring things like the noise created by cars rushing past a residential neighborhood on a new highway.

This law is completely obsolete and utterly irrelevant for turbines because it does not measure infrasound and low frequency noise, one of the principal causes of damaging health effects from turbines in humans and animals.

It is as though someone asked the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection to test for potential damaging health effects from sunlight and they tested only the visible light, ignoring ultraviolet light all together. It is a meaningless exercise designed only to fool people who don’t know about infrasound.

The article also notes concerns that the wind developer, Sumul Shah, was present during testing. This issue is especially concerning because it provides the opportunity for tampering. The Fairhaven turbines are variable pitch. This means they can be de-tuned by feathering the blades back to make them run quieter during testing. The idea of inviting the owner of the turbine to be present while measuring noise flies in the face of every principal of scientific measurement.

If a scientist submitted a paper for peer review describing a testing process where his measurements could be tampered with by an interested party, he or she would be laughed out of the profession. In clinical drug trials, for example, everyone involved in the testing process must provide an affidavit that they have no financial interest in the outcome. If the Food and Drug Administration learns that someone from the drug company was present during testing, the trials would be immediately declared invalid. End of story. Unlike the DEP, the FDA places public health and safety above the profits of private industry.

Putting this bit of theater aside for a moment, according to the article, the excuse given by DEP spokesman Edmund Colleta for this obvious breach of protocol is that CEO Sumul Shah must “coordinate turning the turbines on and off as needed.” This is a lame excuse. Turning the turbines on and off can be done by remote control; there is no reason that the DEP could not turn them on and off without help. Shah possesses no special engineering skills or credentials that make his presence required for this. One would think that the DEP would be more concerned about the appearance of collusion with the wind developer it pretends to regulate.

The article noted Shah’s protest of innocence: “If the turbine is on for testing, he said, its speed cannot be controlled.” This is equally lame, because nothing prevents him from changing the angle of the blades before turning them on. This is theater of the absurd.

Unfortunately, Wittenberg did not report the fact that Shah has access to information that might show that he did not rig the test. Every industrial turbine is controlled by a Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition system. This system records the position of the turbine blades, direction, speed and power output, to name only a few. If Shah were to release these data since the operation of the turbines began, he could prove he did not tamper. The blades would be in the same position they usually are under the test conditions of wind speed and direction. So why doesn’t he release it?

Several weeks ago, Shah submitted a report to the Fairhaven Board of Health stating that there is no discernible pattern between turbine operation and the avalanche of adverse health reports submitted to the board by residents living near them. Releasing the SCADA data to public scrutiny could also provide evidence that this claim is true as well. So why doesn’t Shah release it?

Of course, the SCADA data could also show there is, in fact, an obvious pattern between health complaints and turbine operation. If so, it would not only show that Shah’s report was false; it might also be construed as evidence of an attempt to defraud the Board of Health and the people of Fairhaven. That would place Mr. Shah in a very compromising situation indeed. He would rightfully be hoisted upon his own petard. If there truly is no pattern, and he truly did not rig the test; then he has nothing to fear and everything to gain. Is anyone taking bets?

North Adams Transcript

When I read Mr. Moreau’s letter (Aug. 11) calling industrial wind turbines (IWTs) majestic and not blight, he really gored my ox.

If by “majestic” he means big like the Grand Canyon, he may be correct. That they are man-made is certain. According to my Random House Dictionary of the English Language, “blight” is defined as “any cause of impairment, destruction, ruin or frustration Š .” “Blighter” is defined “as a contemptible, worthless man; a rascal.”

As energy producers, windpower machines just don’t work. They can’t make more that 25 percent in a good year of their megawatt ratings. They are weather dependent and intermittent in their operation. They never replace any fossil fuel or nuclear power generating stations, and as a matter of fact, they require the construction of new gas-fired plants to keep up grid voltage when they are not working. The gas-fired plants cannot run at peak efficiency, as they must quickly shut off when the wind blows. Le Pair, et al, Dutch physicists, studying this marriage of wind and natural gas power, concluded that more CO2 was created by the stop and go operation of the gas-fired plants, than if the windturbines were never there. And so, the windpower mantra of clean, sustainable power simply goes up the stack. Isn’t this a form of blight?

Yes, IWTs are good tax shelters, ask any developer or their investors.

Oh, and what about the stream of wind turbine refugees, all over the world, who are having to abandon their homes to escape the terrible hammering that they have taken from the IWTs located two to three miles from their residences?Do you mean to tell me that they are just imagining their medical problems that range from sleeplessness, to chronic anxiety, suicidal depression, to catastrophic hypertension, arrhythmias, heart failures, metabolic dysfunction like diabetes, cognitive dysfunction similar to attention deficit disorder (ADD), and even the loss of a second trimester fetus in Ontario, Canada?

Oh, and then we have the kids in Fairhaven coming home from their school — located about 2,000 feet from two 1.5 MW windturbines — with migraine headaches, earaches and tummy aches.

The most likely culprit for many of these physiologicalproblems are the ILFNs, (infra-sound and low frequency noise) that is inaudible and only measurable on the dbC and dbG scales, something the state never looks at. ILFNs exist in the 0-200 hertz range. They are propagated by the huge blades of the wind turbines as pressure waves, the same force that causes bats’ lungs to implode and smooth muscle organ systems in humans, like arterial blood vessels in brain, and gut linings, to malfunction.

If this isn’t blight, Mr. Moreau, what would you call it? If the proponents are not blighters, rascals and liars, what are they?

Mr. Moreau, I pity you. If you are indeed a resident of Clarksburg, you stand to receive the full pounding of the Hoosac Wind Project that is being erected next door to you in Florida-Monroe; 19, 1.5 MW windturbines, slated to begin operation this November.

Marshall Rosenthal
Aug. 21

Wind Turbine Acoustic Pollution Assessment Requirements This is an excellent summary of what regulators and public officials should do, to analyze noise impacts from industrial wind turbines. On Vinalhaven, local government eliminated a restrictive local noise ordinance in 2008 in order to put in place an ordinance that was less restrictive, thereby imposing excessive noise on nearby residents.


The Bruce McPherson Infrasound and Low Frequency Noise Study: Adverse Health Effects Produced By Large Industrial Wind Turbines Confirmed, Dec 14, 2011
Stephen E. Ambrose, Robert W. Rand
Green Bay Gazette, January 26 2012
Aid for wind turbine victims sought
Wisconsin should pay the medical bills of  Brown County residents who were made ill by industrial wind turbines, some county supervisors say.Saying the state allowed “irresponsible placement” of industrial wind turbines in the Glenmore area, the Brown County Human Services Committee has approved a  measure to ask the state to pay emergency aid to families living near the Shirley Wind Farm.The request, which seeks an unspecified amount until the “hardships are studied and resolved,” could come before the full County Board next month.It is the latest attempt by county supervisors and other officials to manage an issue in which some residents began experiencing conditions such as anxiety, depression, weight loss and increased cancer risks since the wind farm was erected in 2010.”There is a 70-year-old woman who lost 20 pounds from not being able to eat,” said Barbara Vanden Boogart, a member of the Brown County Citizens for Responsible Wind Energy, an advocacy group. “There are two adults who sleep an average of one and a half hours a night.”Shirley’s operators insist their facility has been built and operated safely.
Wind farms have been a topic of debate in Wisconsin in the past several years. Advocates say wind pollutes less than coal and is less expensive and less potentially dangerous than nuclear energy.Officials say the facilities’ record isn’t good enough. The County Board resolution says the state was irresponsible in allowing the Shirley Wind Farm to be built without consulting an expert on the medical consequences of living near wind turbines.Supervisors said they had no indication Wednesday of how the state would respond to their request. They said the answer would be up to officials in Madison to resolve this spring.Supervisor Patrick Evans said the government must do more to protect citizens until more is known about potential dangers, saying at least two local families living near wind farms have abandoned their homes and others lost thousands of dollars because livestock died mysteriously.
“This problem is very real,” he said. Being upstairs in a house near the Shirley facility, he said, “felt after 10 or 12 minutes like you were getting carbon-monoxide poisoning.”Lawmakers also are calling on the state to adopt turbine-siting guidelines approved by citizens groups.State Sen. Frank Lasee, R-Ledgeview, last week introduced a bill to allow cities, villages, towns and counties to establish the minimum distance between a wind turbine and a home — even if those rules are more restrictive than any the state enacts.Statewide wind-siting rules, more than a year in the making, were suspended last March. Lawmakers sent those rules, which dealt with farms of less than 100 megawatts, back to the state Public Service Commission, where they have stayed as officials worked to reach a compromise.Lack of regulatory agreement, particularly on the issue of how far a turbine must be from a property line, has tempered enthusiasm about wind farms. A corporation in 2011 scrapped plans for a 100-turbine development in the Morrison-Glenmore area.

(Jan 2, 2012) In April of this year Stephen E. Ambrose, an acoustical consultant from Windham, Maine, drove down to Falmouth in his Toyota Camry.

The license plate, which reads “BE QUIET,” was perhaps the first sign that he was sympathetic to the plight of abutters living next to the town-owned wind turbines at the Wastewater Treatment Facility.

But that is even more apparent in a study of a nearby turbine in Falmouth Technology Park owned by Notus Clean Energy that Mr. Ambrose released with Robert W. Rand, also of Maine, two weeks ago.

In that document the pair detail the same symptoms they experienced that have been reported by several of the neighbors of Wind 1, the 1.65-megawatt turbine that became operational in March of last year. “Within twenty minutes of being inside their house, while setting up our instruments, each of us started to lose our initial enthusiasm and actually started to feel less well. As time went on, we got progressively worse. We each experienced unpleasant symptoms of motion sickness, including ear pressure, headache, nausea, dizziness, vertigo, especially when moving about,” the report reads.

The two remained in Falmouth, at an undisclosed home of an abutter to the Notus turbine, for three days. Their goal was to investigate infrasonic and low-frequency noise emissions.

The study, titled “The Bruce McPherson Infrasound and Low Frequency Noise Study,” was privately funded by Mr. McPherson, a former Hyannis resident who died last March.

As to Mr. McPherson’s role in the study, attorney Christopher G. Senie of Westboro provided some additional background.

“Mr. McPherson approached me at a Cape Cod Commission meeting I guess about a year ago and indicated to me he was interested in trying to figure out why it was Falmouth residents were having such distress so he offered to finance a study to look further into it,” Mr. Senie said.

Mr. Senie currently represents six residents in a companion case to Neil P. and Elizabeth L. Andersen’s lawsuit against the Falmouth Zoning Board of Appeals’ decision that upheld Building Commissioner Eladio R. Gore’s ruling that the town did not need a special permit to build Wind 1.

He also has represented neighbors during the town’s study of the turbine’s noise impacts last year.

Mr. Senie stressed that “Mr. McPherson didn’t exercise any influence over the study. He passed away long before it was completed or a draft of it was available.”

“I think he spent time pondering the question of whether turbines could be designed differently to eliminate problems,” Mr. Senie continued. “He was certainly concerned about the Cape community, which he loved, and this study seemed important to him.”

The responsibility of conducting the study fell into the hands of Mr. Ambrose and Mr. Rand, who collectively have 66 years of experience working in the field of acoustics. For the last two years, Mr. Rand said, they have been investigating noise generated from wind turbines.

“We approach noise problems from the point of view of the neighbor.” Mr. Rand said. “It is the best way to understand complaints.”

Originally the goal was to study Wind 1, but after selectmen voted to curtail the operation of that turbine when wind speeds reach roughly 23 miles per hour, the choice was made to investigate the Notus machine. “It is an identical make and model to tbe Wind 1 and Wind 2 turbines owned by the town,” Mr. Rand pointed out.

The study focused on low-frequency noise, something the researchers noted in their report is overlooked because local and stale regulations focus on “A-weighted sound level measurements” which essentially eliminates acoustic signals below 20 Hertz where infrasound’ is located in the acoustic frequency spectrum.”

Additionally, the pair noted that the A-weighted sound level was not the best measurement for determining problems indoors where abutters were complainjng more about discomfort.

Results sbowed that “the house envelope blocked most of the frequency content above l0 Hz, and amplified the remaining low-frequency pulsations, much like a drum.”

While the study’s focus was on low frequency, much of it details the health impacts the two felt from being exposed to the turbine.

A chart, listing the daily wind speeds, also includes the symptoms the two experienced. On the first day. for example, when wind gusts were between 25 and 35 miles per hour. the researchers felt everything from nausea to dizziness to the inability to concentrate. It is noted that the two “felt miserable” and “performed tasks at a reduced pace.”

Mr. Rand said he and Mr. Ambrose felt those symptoms for several weeks after. “I did seek medical treatment for that,” he said. “I obtained an eyeglass prescription. I wear them all the time. I never wore eyeglasses before this study.”

Both he and Mr. Ambrose “were caught by surprise” with how severely they were impacted, Mr, Rand said. “We were unprepared and unable to take measurements,” he said, noting that “we were able to pull ourselves together after the wind subsided… This has never happened to me at any period of my career, but this is the first time we measured wind turbines indoors.”

The report does not claim the turbine caused the physiological symptoms the pair experienced, but does say “there were strong correlations established.”

As to how much weight this study will hold in the town’s ultimate decision on what to do with its wind turbines is unclear.

Nov. 22, 2010 – Measuring Wind Turbine Noise – Editors

Sept. 10, 2010 – Village Soup/Herald Gazette – Wind Turbine Noise, an independent assessment, by Stephen Ambrose and Robert Rand

Wind turbines larger than one megawatt of rated power have become an unexpected surprise for many nearby residents by being much louder than expected.

Noise Guidelines for Europe, World Heath Organization Regional Office for Europe, Sept. 2009
The WHO Regional Office for Europe launched these updated Night noise guidelines for Europe. The guidelines provide ground-breaking evidence on how exposure to night noise can damage people’s health, and recommends guideline levels to protect health. The new limit is an annual average night exposure not exceeding 40 decibels (dB)…

Recent research on the adverse health effects of industrial wind turbines is available.

This is courtesy of the Friends of the Highland Mountains.

Discussions on the long term effects of turbine noise and low frequency vibration.

Noise standard issues in New Zealand

The Northern Echo – Limits on wind turbines noise too high

Benefits of wind Power are Unproven, hypothetical by Monique Aniel

Dr. Michael Nissenbaum -Wind turbines, health, ridgelines and valleys

Health and safety issues from around the world

Hospital opens Balance (Vertigo) Center next door to windfarm (Watertown, NY)

Summary of Recent Research  on Adverse Health Effects of Wind Turbines

20 October, 2009

Revised and updated 24 November 2009 with Addendum including new updates 1 February 2010

July August 2010

Audiology Today, What Audiologists Should Know about Wind Turbine Noise

By Jerry Punch, Richard James, and Dan Pabst

View here: Wind-Turbine Noise – What Audiologists Should Know

June 14, 2010

Wind turbines in Lake Michigan

June 14, 2010

Dear Professor Wheatley,

You wrote to me, inquiring about infrasound and low frequency noise (ILFN) impacts from a large array of wind turbines proposed for Lake Michigan. Impacts, that is, on people living on shore four miles away, and impacts on fish.

Your concerns are well-founded. First, a crash course on “noise.” Noise propagation models are based on the spherical movement of sound waves and the dispersion of their power. In these models, sound loses its power rapidly.

Sound waves over water, however, present a special case. The issue over water is that instead of having an absorptive surface, the way trees and vegetation and houses might absorb sound—you now have a reflective surface. Basically, you’re dealing with half of a sphere; the power of the sound is concentrated because the whole bottom of the sphere is reflected back into the top of the sphere.

The other thing that occurs over water is that there are different layers of air under different weather conditions (for instance, either cool & still over the water, or certain kinds of cloud cover). By “layered” I mean the air has different densities or temperatures or wind conditions. The boundary between air layers likewise acts as a reflective surface.

Hence, it is not uncommon to have the reflective surface of the water and a reflective surface of layered atmosphere above it (at the boundary of this layered atmosphere, such as cloud cover). The upshot being that both of these reflective surfaces (the water and the air layer boundary) will reflect the sound back into the same layer where the sound travels.

This means that sound energy, instead of dispersing in a sphere, disperses in a flat layer, more like a two-dimensional circle—a pancake or, if you prefer, a frisbee. Bottom line, the sound energy is heavily concentrated and travels much farther.

When you understand that infrasound and low frequency noise travel farther than higher frequency noise, this “channeling” of noise—reflective surface of the water below, air layer boundary above—becomes pronounced and, in this wind turbine case, alarming.

In summary, you are correct to be alarmed about ILFN reaching land from these lake-based turbines.

Now consider what happens under water. Sound propagates even more efficiently through water than through air. And water is, of course, defined by boundary conditions: (a) the surface between water and air is a boundary that tends to reflect sound back into water, and (b) different layers of water (varying in temperature, density, and current)—the boundaries between these different layers of water also act as reflective surfaces. Hence, you can get channels through water where ILFN travels very far, because it’s concentrated by these two reflective surfaces.

By the way, everything I have said about noise propagation above and within fresh water is true, as well, for oceans, with the added element of salt. In oceans, layers are also defined by salinity, which of course affects water density.

What about the fish in Lake Michigan (or Nantucket Sound, for that matter)? Fish, we know, are acutely sensitive to infrasound and respond to it with fear and avoidance. Hence, the turbines and the noise they make have the potential to change patterns of (a) fish movement, (b) fish migration, and (c) breeding behavior.

If breeding behavior is changed, fish populations can crash. (My PhD is in population biology/behavioral ecology, from Princeton University.)

A few more words about ocean environments. Crustaceans also avoid ILFN. Whales are known to beach and die in response to Navy sonar—which by definition is in the ILFN range. And there is information about seal rookery problems—rookery failure—in the UK.

Birds. Birds on Lake Michigan and over the ocean are at risk insofar as they are not used to encountering obstacles as they fly over water. Turbines in the Great Lakes could have a disastrous impact on bird migrations when turbines are located within the great migratory highways (flyways).

On the matter of water-borne ILFN, keep in mind that we’re talking about vibrations coming off the supporting structures under the water, propagated directly into the water, in addition to ILFN traveling above water. In other words, ILFN skimming across the surface and below the surface.

Lastly, it has been demonstrated that large turbines produce more ILFN than smaller ones. The bigger they are, the bigger the ILFN load. If you’re talking about 5 and 10 MW turbines in Lake Michigan, this spells big trouble.

I hope this is helpful.


Nina Pierpont, MD (Johns Hopkins), PhD (Princeton)
Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics

Epidemiologist credits Wind Turbine Syndrome, dismissing detractors as junk scientists (Wisconsin)

Dr. Carl V. Phillips is a Harvard-trained epidemiologist specializing in public health policy.  Until recently, Dr. Phillips was a tenured professor in the School of Public Health, University of Alberta, and is currently director of an independent research institute.  Click here for Dr. Phillips’s (slightly out of date) curriculum vitae.

In his testimony before the Wisconsin Public Service Commission on June 30, 2010, Dr. Phillips affirmed that Wind Turbine Syndrome (WTS) is epidemiologically valid and must be taken seriously by policy makers.  He dismissed the wind industry’s so-called expert studies opposing WTS as pseudo-science and prima facie ludicrous.  Along the way, he punctures the sappy “nocebo effect” invoked by wind inidustry-sponsored scientists, as being epidemiologically naive and irrelevant.

He informed the PSC that full-blown epidemiological studies of WTS could be readily performed, although he seems unaware that the wind industry prevents these with its confidentiality agreements (gag clauses).

Phillips hints at a moratorium on further wind farm development until large-scale, properly funded epidemiological studies are performed, while reiterating and underscoring that scientifically credible evidence exists, right now, demonstrating genuine health problems from wind turbines.

Dr. Phillips’s testimony, shown on the YouTube above, is supplemented by a written report which he is submitting to the Wisconsin PSC.  His report will be posted on this site when it is made publicly available.

The following is a transcript of Dr. Phillips’s testimony, courtesy of Better Plan Wisconsin (with corrections added).

PSC: Please raise your right hand. Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?

Carl V. Phillips: Yes, I do.

PSC: OK, spell your name.

PHILLIPS: Carl V. Phillips, C-A-R-L, initial V as in Vincent- Phillips- P-H-I-double L-I-P-S

PSC: All right, go ahead.

I’m an epidemiologist and policy researcher.  I’m specifically expert in how to optimally derive knowledge for decision making from epidemiologic data.

I have a PhD in public policy from Harvard University, and I did a post doctoral fellowship in public health policy and the philosophy of science.

I’ve spent most of my career as a professor of public health and medicine, most recently at the University of Alberta and I currently direct an independent research institute.

I reviewed the literature on health effects of wind turbines on local residents, including the reports that have been prepared by industry consultants and the references therein, and I have reached the following conclusions which I present in detail in a written report that I believe will be submitted [to the commission].

First, there is ample evidence that some people suffer a collection of health problems, including insomnia, anxiety, loss of concentration, general psychological distress, as a result of being exposed to turbines near their home.

The type of studies that have been done are not adequate to estimate what portion of the population is susceptible to the effect, the magnitude of the effects, or exactly how much exposure is needed before the risks become substantial, but all of these could be determined with fairly simple additional research.

What is clear is there is a problem of some magnitude.  The evidence may or may not be enough to meet the burden of a tort claim about a specific disease, but in my opinion it’s clearly enough to suggest that our public policy should not just be to blindly move forward without more knowledge.

The best evidence we have—which has been somewhat downplayed in previous discussion—is what’s known as “case cross-over data,” which is one of the most useful forms of epidemiologic study when both the exposure and the disease are transitory.  That is, it’s possible to remove the exposure and see if the disease goes away, then reinstate it and see if the disease recurs, which is exactly the pattern that has been observed for some of the sufferers who physically moved away and sometimes back again.

With that study design in mind, we actually have very substantial amounts of data in a structured form, contrary to some of the claims that have been made.  And more data of this nature could easily be gathered if an effort was made.

Moreover, people’s avoidance behavior—their moving from their homes, and so forth—is a clear (what’s called) “revealed preference measure” of their suffering.  Such evidence transforms something that might be dismissed as a subjective experience or perhaps even fakery, to an objective observation that someone’s health problems are worth more than the many thousands of dollars they’ve lost trying to escape the exposure.

My second observation . . . is that these health effects that people are suffering are very real.  The psychologically mediated diseases that we’ve observed, and in fact overall mental well being, are included in all modern accepted definitions of either individual health or public health.  It’s true that they are more difficult to study than certain other diseases, but they probably account for more of the total morbidity burden in the United States than do purely physical diseases.  Therefore [they] should not be in any way dismissed.

Third, the reports that I have read that claim there is no evidence that there is a problem seem to be based on a very simplistic understanding of epidemiology and self-serving definitions of what does and what does not count as evidence.  I don’t think I can cover too much of this in the available time right now, but I explain it in detail in my report—why these claims, which probably seem convincing to most readers prima facie [at first glance], don’t represent proper scientific reading.  Moreover, the conclusions of the reports don’t even match their own analyses.  The reports themselves actually concede that there are problems, and then somehow manage to reach the conclusion that there is no evidence that there are problems.

And my final point, as I’ve already alluded to, is it’s quite possible to do the studies it would take to resolve the outstanding questions, and they could actually be done very quickly by studying people who are already exposed.

This isn’t the type of circumstance where we cannot really know more until we move forward and wait for years of additional exposure.  The only reason we don’t have better information than we do is that no one with adequate resources has tried to get it.

That’s the conclusion of my points.

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