Sierra Club Canada weighed in yesterday with some harsh words for opponents of wind power in Ontario, with the group's Executive Director, John Bennett, saying in part, "Rural Ontarians are being sold a bill of goods when it comes to wind energy. There is no place for disinformation in public dialogue and politicians planning to take advantage of it should be ashamed."
Sierra Club Canada accompanied the release with a study, The REAL Truth About Wind Energy, examining a variety of health and safety issues touted by wind opponents, including sound (audible, low frequency, and infrasound), icing, shadow flicker (see "Epilepsy Risk? 'Pants on Fire!'", January 25, 2011), and electromagnetic fields (EMF), and finding that they do not pose human health risks.
A section entitled "The Real Health Hazards" follows. Since it is brief, I'll quote it in full:
"A report by the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) outlines the grave impact that air pollution has on human health, as well as the large financial costs associated with air pollution related illnesses. This report states that in 2008, air pollution was responsible for 21,000 deaths in Canada (CMA, 2008, p.iii). Ninety thousand people will have died from acute effects and 710,000 will have died from long-term exposure to air pollution by 2031, with the highest number of deaths from acute exposure in Quebec and Ontario (CMA, 2008, p.iii). In 2008 air pollution was responsible for 620,000 visits to doctors offices, and 92,000 emergency room visits, while these numbers are expected to rise to 940,000 and 152,000 respectively in 2031 (CMA, 2008, p.iii). In 2008 the cost of air pollution was $8 billion, and by 2031, the cumulative cost of air pollution will be $250 billion (CMA, 2008, p.iii). There are no emissions directly associated with energy produced from wind turbines (Andersen, 2008, p.11)."
The study follows with sections addressing wind power's other benefits such as jobs and economic development and additional concerns: cost, land use requirements, and effects on wildlife. It concludes, "With a full review of available data, including that referenced by wind opposition groups, Sierra Club Canada adds its voice to the overwhelming majority of governmental, non-governmental, scientific, and environmental groups in saying that a link between wind turbines and health concerns is unfounded. The installation of wind turbines and wind farms has the great benefit of providing long-term renewable energy, thereby replacing dangerous, polluting energy sources. With no negative side effects beyond potential annoyance from the ‘swooshing’ of blades, wind energy should be embraced as a solid source of present and future [electricity]."
WINDPOWER report: New study finds minimal low-frequency and infrasound impact from wind turbines, May 25, 2011
Does the sound of money soothe Wind Turbine Syndrome?, April 25, 2011
WHO guidelines on sound are … guidelines, March 28, 2011
Scientists, doctor weigh in on wind and health, November 30, 2010
Wind turbine sound: The neighbors speak, March 18, 2010
Expert panel concludes wind turbine sounds not harmful to human health, December 15, 2009