Are Wind Turbines Affecting Health!? *Revised for Culminating*

Image courtesy of Detroitnews.com

The use of wind turbines are at the heart of many recent social and political debates in Canada, but in my eyes the pros substantially outweigh the arguable “cons.

While the provincial government, partnered with other private manufacturers such as Samsung Renewable Energy Inc. and Capital Power LP, have begun the large roll-out of these turbines, 31% of Ontarians alone are against the machines as a result of claimed health problems stemming from annoyance. [1] With so many reasons to make the switch to renewable energy sources, why still does such a large group of Canadians reject the development in their homeland?

Those against these turbines rely on the fact that the low frequency noise has a severe health impact on those living near the turbines. As the majority of debates revolve around health, the arguments include dizziness and migraines, chronic illnesses such as heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes, measures of stress levels, such as heart rate, blood pressure and cortisol, and self-reported or measured quality of sleep. [2] A Toronto lawyer representing farm families stated to judges: “The nightmare neighbour can split your eardrums or he can drive you crazy, but either way, you end up with serious health effects,”. Obviously these residents have become very passionate with their opinion and have begun to consider these wind turbines as “nightmares”. The  federal government plays a huge role in the rollout of wind energy and endorsing harm on it’s citizens would be unexceptional. It states in section 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms that “Governments must not impose a reasonable prospect of serious harm on their citizens in order to protect security of the persons”. [3] So, are these government turbines imposing harm on Canadian citizens?

Image courtesy of Industrytap.com

I believe, along with the majority of Canadians, that the use of these turbines and the benefits that come with them are too great to be dismissed due to annoyance. The energy needs of our country are most certainly not going to decrease in the upcoming years, and the use of renewable energy is no doubt safer than the current use of fossil fuels. [4] And to expand on the potential of the government imposing harm, Health Canada conducted a study of the effects of wind turbine noise in Ontario and P.E.I. in 2012 to put any skepticism to rest. This study found that not only did the turbines not have any solid connection to the quality of life of nearby residents, but in all cases that reported loss of sleep or headaches, were claimed to be only slightly worse or just as bad as the common headache. The study also contained certain groups that were convinced that the experience was going to be a bad experience before hand, and a group that was convinced that it wouldn’t make a difference at all. The “placebo effect”, and the less common “nocebo effect” which these cases experimented with were proved once again. The majority of those who were expecting a bad outcome didn’t enjoy the turbines, and those who expected to be fine also didn’t mind being near the turbines at all. [5]

So no, I don’t think that the government and the turbines that it is currently installing across the country have enough evidence against them in order to discontinue or interrupt the rollout and/or use. The opposing effort is seen and their arguments must be acknowledged whenever a new issue arises. But, this brings attention to the importance of attitude and optimism, I advise anyone confused about the political position of any issue to do their own research and be open to new ideas and points of view.


What do you think about wind turbines? Should they continue operating or do the claimed health effects veto the environmental benefits? Let me know in the comments section below!

References:

[1] “Redirecting Anti-Wind Energy.” AJ – Canada’s Environmental Voice. 1 Sept. 2014. Web. 19 Feb. 2015. <http://www.alternativesjournal.ca/energy-and-resources/redirecting-anti-wind-energy>.

[2] News, CBC. “Wind Turbine Noise Not Linked to Health Problems, Health Canada Finds – Technology & Science – CBC News.”CBCnews. CBC/Radio Canada, 6 Nov. 2014. Web. 19 Feb. 2015. <http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/wind-turbine-noise-not-linked-to-health-problems-health-canada-finds-1.2826206>.

[3] “Legal Battle over Ontario Wind Turbine Farm May Redefine ‘harm'” The Globe and Mail. 21 Nov. 2014. Web. 19 Feb. 2015. <http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/legal-battle-over-ontario-wind-turbine-farm-may-redefine-harm/article21714017/>.

[4] Maehlum, Mathias Aarre. “Wind Energy Pros and Cons – Energy Informative.”Energy Informative. 6 Dec. 2013. Web. 19 Feb. 2015. <http://energyinformative.org/wind-energy-pros-and-cons/>.

[5] “Wind Turbine Noise and Health Study: Summary of Results.” Health Canada. Health Canada, 30 Oct. 2014. Web. 19 Feb. 2015. <http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/ewh-semt/noise-bruit/turbine-eoliennes/summary-resume-eng.php>.

 

4 thoughts on “Are Wind Turbines Affecting Health!? *Revised for Culminating*

  1. Great post! Although I don’t know too much about wind turbines, I do know that they are very effective and are superior to solar panels in windier places. I don’t believe that wind turbines cause negative health effects, and the mere annoyance of the turbines isn’t a good enough reason to stop using one of the only machines that runs on a renewable source.

    • Indeed, the conversion of our energy production to renewable sources is a very important step in a cleaner planet. I understand how residents living near these machines may develop an annoyance towards the sounds, but in the grand scheme of things these turbines are doing plenty more positive things for the world then the latter. One of the things I find most interesting in the topic was the presence of the Placebo effect, and how easily our thoughts can be manipulated by a prior event or decision.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *