27 January 2012 – The case against wind farms on health grounds took a dramatic step backwards this week after Freedom of Information documents obtained by Friends of the Earth slammed claims that wind turbines are bad for local residents’ health.

The Climate and Health Alliance also this week rejected claims of anti-wind farm groups that wind power poses a health threat.

These claims, however, have succeeded in virtually halting wind farm development in Victoria and NSW despite no corresponding claims in Europe where wind farms are widespread. An ABC Four Corners report last year showed strong links between the anti wind farm lobby and anti climate change interests, in particular the Institute of Public Affairs.

Mr Walker said the FOI request resulted in about 1200 pages of documents being provided. Most are studies and other papers in the public domain, he said.

Some of the documents also related to correspondence received from Dr Sarah Laurie of the Waubra Foundation.

Other documents relate to a study by another doctor, Nina Pierpoint, which forms the basis of much of the Waubro claims.

Mr Walker said highlights from the documents include:

[Paper No 25] “NSW Health has met with Dr Sarah Laurie…There is a clear hierarchy in scientific evidence and case reports [as provided] fall into the lowest category of scientific evidence. On this basis, such studies can be regarded as hypotheses generating and not as hypotheses proving. In other words, they raise a question, but do not provide an answer. To be widely accepted as evidence for adverse health effects, the study design, methodology and analysis has to be peer reviewed. This is lacking for the critical information presented by Dr. Laurie.”

[Paper No 24] “In July 2010, the National Health and Medical Research Council released a Position Statement on Wind Turbines and Health effects and concluded, “There are no direct pathological effects from wind farms and that any potential impact on humans can be minimised by following existing planning guidelines…..NSW Health accepts the NHMRC’s public statement on wind turbines and health. The national approach is consistent with the international scientific opinion, which is based on lack of a current link between wind turbines and adverse health effects.”

Health Issues asserted in a presentation by [name is blacked out] appear to be misleading. For instance in PowerPoint slide 10 statement is a statement that “Extensive concerns are being raised within the NHMRC”.

A comment from the Environmental Health Branch of NSW Health states: “This statement is inaccurate and unsubstantiated. The information that NSW Health has received from NHMRC does not support this statement.”

On PowerPoint slide 10 states”Increasing volume of reported illness, as the Turbines get larger and the so called “farms” get bigger.”

The EHB comment is: “There may be reports of illness, but these illnesses may have occurred in the community in any case, and no comparison population or other appropriate epidemiological evidence is available: making assertions of causal links to wind turbines without proper studies is unjustified. [Information contained in the person’s] own presentation contradicts this statement by saying that direct cause for these symptoms is unknown.”

PowerPoint slide 29 on “Recent Studies and Surveys: Dr Nina Pierpont—Case Series Crossover Study complete; findings published in “Wind Turbine Syndrome”

EHB Comment is: “Dr. Nina Pierpoint’s ‘study’ forms the basis of much of the [Waubra Foundation’s] assertions. This ‘study’ is not a rigorous epidemiological study; it is a case series of 10 families drawn from a wide range of locations. This work has not been properly peer-reviewed, nor has it been published in the peer-reviewed literature. The findings are not scientifically valid, with major methodological flaws stemming from the poor design of the study. This ‘study’ is not of sufficient scientific rigour. It raises hypotheses, it does not prove them.”

The Climate and Health Alliance also rejected claims of health issues in relation to wind farms.

“There is no credible peer reviewed scientific evidence that demonstrates a link between wind turbines and direct adverse health impacts in people living in proximity to them,” CAHA convenor Fiona Armstrong said.

“In contrast, Australia’s current energy generation that relies on the burning of fossils fuels such as coal and gas is not only contributing to climate change but (particularly in the case of coal) also poses significant threats to human health.”

The Health and Wind Turbines paper  www.caha.org.au finds while large-scale commercial wind farms have been in operation internationally for many decades, often in close proximity to thousands of people, there is no scientifically validated evidence of any associated increase in ill-health in these populations.

“The balance of current scientific evidence indicates that while a small proportion of people may experience annoyance associated with wind turbines, on the whole no direct adverse physiological health effects related to wind turbines have been demonstrated,” Ms Armstrong said.

“In contrast however, there are well documented and serious threats to human health from burning fossil fuels for electricity generation and transport in the form of cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease and cancer,” Ms Armstrong said.

“It is estimated that the harm to health from emissions from Australian coal-fired power stations is costing the Australia community $A2.6 billion annually. Together with the health damage from fossil fuel powered transport emissions, this amounts to an annual health bill of almost $6 billion, as well as contributing to more than 1000 deaths each year.”

See report in Fairfax newspapers on this issue here

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Mr Walker said the FOI request resulted in about 1200 pages of documents being provided. Most are studies and other papers in the public domain, he said.

Some of the documents also related to correspondence received from Dr Sarah Laurie of the Waubra Foundation.

Other documents relate to a study by another doctor, Nina Pierpoint, which forms the basis of much of the Waubro claims.

Mr Walker said highlights from the documents include:

* “NSW Health has met with Dr Sarah Laurie…There is a clear hierarchy in scientific evidence and case reports [as provided by Dr. Laurie] fall into the lowest category of scientific evidence. On this basis, such studies can be regarded as hypotheses generating and not as hypotheses proving. In other words, they raise a question, but do not provide an answer. To be widely accepted as evidence for adverse health effects, the study design, methodology and analysis has to be peer reviewed. This is lacking for the critical information presented by Dr. Laurie.” [Paper No 25]

* “In July 2010, the National Health and Medical Research Council released a Position Statement on Wind Turbines and Health effects and concluded, “There are no direct pathological effects from wind farms and that any potential impact on humans can be minimised by following existing planning guidelines…..NSW Health accepts the NHMRC’s public statement on wind turbines and health. The national approach is consistent with the international scientific opinion, which is based on lack of a current link between wind turbines and adverse health effects.” [Paper No 24]

* Health Issues asserted in a presentation by [a person whose name is blacked out] appear to be misleading. For instance in PowerPoint slide 10 statement is a statement that “Extensive concerns are being raised within the NHMRC”.

A comment from the Environmental Health Branch of NSW Health states: “This statement is inaccurate and unsubstantiated. The information that NSW Health has received from NHMRC does not support this statement.”

On PowerPoint slide 10 states”Increasing volume of reported illness, as the Turbines get larger and the so called “farms” get bigger.”

The EHB comment is: “There may be reports of illness, but these illnesses may have occurred in the community in any case, and no comparison population or other appropriate epidemiological evidence is available: making assertions of causal links to wind turbines without proper studies is unjustified. [Information contained in the person’s] own presentation contradicts this statement by saying that direct cause for these symptoms is unknown.”

PowerPoint slide 29 on “Recent Studies and Surveys: Dr Nina Pierpont—Case Series Crossover Study complete; findings published in “Wind Turbine Syndrome”

EHB Comment is: “Dr. Nina Pierpoint’s ‘study’ forms the basis of much of the [Waubra Foundation’s] assertions. This ‘study’ is not a rigorous epidemiological study; it is a case series of 10 families drawn from a wide range of locations. This work has not been properly peer-reviewed, nor has it been published in the peer-reviewed literature. The findings are not scientifically valid, with major methodological flaws stemming from the poor design of the study. This ‘study’ is not of sufficient scientific rigour. It raises hypotheses, it does not prove them.”

See report in Fairfax newspapers on this issue here

https://www.smh.com.au/environment/energy-smart/science-on-wind-turbine-illness-dubious-say-experts-20120123-1qe98.html