Posts Tagged ‘Dr David Colby’

Yesterday saw the preliminary hearing for the appeal of the renewable energy certificate for Suncor’s Kent Breeze project. The appeal was brought by the Chatham-Kent wind action group, and by a private citizen.

Witnesses for the wind development opponents include Drs Robert McMurty, Christopher Hanning, and Michael Nissenbaum, as well as epidemiologist Dr Carl V Phillips. Witnesses for the wind development proponent include Geoffrey Leventhall and acting Chatham Medical Officer of Health Dr David Colby. (We are puzzled by the appearance of Dr Colby as he has already been told by the College of Physicians and Surgeons that he, as a specialist in infectious disease, is not to present himself as an expert on wind turbine noise and health effects.)

Once again, the proponents are sticking to the tenet that wind turbine noise does not harm hearing. And that’s not what the medical experts are saying: they are saying that the noise and vibration (nfrasound) from industrial scale wind turbines is a very different sound that is causing a unique set of health problems.

We wish the wind development opponents the best. For more details, and to donate to this landmark case, go to http://www.windconcernsontario.org

For more of the science on the effects of wind turbine noise and infrasound, go to http://www.windvigilance.com

To contact us in North Gower-Richmond, email northgowerwindactiongroup@yahoo.ca

and remember our special Truth about wind event, January 23rd, North Gower, at 2 p.m.

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A Canadian epidemiologist testified at a Public Service Commission hearing in Wisconsin, on the health effects noted from exposure to the noise and vibration (infrasound) from industrial wind turbines. Note how simple it would be to do actual research on actual people, in his opinion. But instead, the Ontario government proffers a highly selective review paper as “research”, as did the wind energy lobby in Canada.

If the corporate wind developers were truly concerned about the health of Canadians (“Coal is killing people!” [it isn’t.] ) they would pay for a real study.

The link is provided if you wish to view a video of  Dr Phillips’ testimony, and a transcript of his remarks follows.

To contact the North Gower Wind Action Group, email northgowerwindactiongroup@yahoo.ca

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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Since our provincial government thought so little of the concerns of dozens of municipalities throughout Ontario, and the people who are suffering because corporate wind developers have built industrial wind turbines too close to homes (in some cases, rendering them uninhabitable so the developers have to buy the properties), we’re not going to spend much time discussing the 14-page report released yesterday by Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health.

It is simply another review, and in many cases the papers reviewed were themselves reviews. It includes the infamous, industry-funded report by Colby, Dobie, Leventhall, et al, which has been roundly discredited as biased and inadequate. It also pointedly includes criticism of the work done by Dr Nina Pierpont (author of Wind Turbine Syndrome).

Here’s the truth: everyone knows that sleep deprivation causes health problems. Everyone knows that constant noise and vibration/soundpressure/infrasound disturbs sleep. If industrial wind turbines are built too close to homes and disturb sleep at night (when they are at their noisiest) then it is more than likely there will be health problems for some people.

Here’s a quote from a 2005 study on traffic noise: “More people are exposed to noise from traffic than from any other noise sources. The degree of noise perception by humans is inflenced by various psychological factors and the syurrounding physical environment. There are numerous health risks due to elevated and prolonged exposure to noise such as irritation, hearing degradation, ability to perceive and process information, sleep deprivation, etc. Lack of sleep has a negative effect on performance,attentiveness and alertness.” (Ilgakojis, Jotautiene et al, 2005. Urban Transport)

That’s just one paper.

The report from the Chief Medical Officer of Health is inadequate, flawed, selective in its sources, and very narrow in its focus. And once again, not a clinical study, i.e., not a single actual person was contacted or examined. And once again, they bring up the idea that if people near wind “farms” felt they were being treated fairly, their “attitudes” would be influenced.

Tax dollars went into the preparation of this “report”. It is indeed a disappointment that it has done nothing to advance experience or knowledge about the important questions concerning industrial wind turbines.

To read the report, go to:


French – http://www.health.gov.on.ca/fr/public/publications/ministry_reports/wind_turbine/wind_turbine.aspx

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