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NHMRC Draft Information Paper: Evidence on Wind Farms and Human Health submission

ID: 
32
Personal Details
First Name: 
Mauri
Last Name: 
Johansson
Questions
Q1. Is the draft Information Paper presented and written in a manner that is easy to understand?: 

{Offline submission form and email submission entered into portal by NHMRC}

Yes

Q2. Does the draft Information Paper clearly outline how the evidence was reviewed and interpreted by NHMRC?: 

Yes. I was only in doubt about the meaning of  “conflict of interests” wording p. 19:

The Reference Group Chair reviewed each member’s declared interests and no unmanageable conflicts were identified.

 

Q6. Is there additional evidence of health and health-related effects observed from other sources producing noise, shadow flicker and electromagnetic radiation of the type and at the levels produced by wind farms? : 

My other comments are included in my original submission , cited in full here:

Living in Denmark, the producer of i.a. Vestas wind turbines (wt) that unfortunately cause problems for wt neighbors in Denmark as well as in Australia, I have with great interest studied your second draft of a report on wt’s and human health. I am grateful to have an opportunity to deliver some comments and proposals to NHMRC about it, since I as medical specialist in community and occupational medicine (including environmental medicine) have been working for fully four years on the problems of wt noise and human health after my retirement.

 In the Introduction you write:

 1.2 Wind farms in Australia

Wind turbines are towers with rotating blades that harness wind to produce electricity. A group of wind turbines is known as a wind farm and may be located on land or offshore.* Wind turbine design has evolved over the last 20 years to enable better exploitation of wind energy and to minimise noise.2-4

Unfortunately the last statement is wrong. Due to the rapid growth in electric effect and height the contrary is the case. Especially the amount of infrasound and low frequency noise (ILNF) has greatly increased. It was shown already by dr. N. Kelley in 1985 in a large and wt-industry independent research project in USA, that a 2 MW wt caused serious health problems in some neighbors, mostly related to the ILFN interval, were it was measured WITHOUT using the A-filter that totally absorbs all noise energy < 20 Hz. I cannot find any of the reports in the series in your reference list. They were published by the Department of Energy (USA) and later at a big international acoustics conference in 1987 in California, were these facts were presented. From the 1985 report (see attached, electronic page 42) I have reproduced a measurement of Kelley’s that goes close to 0 Hz and shows the noise maximum pressure around 70 – well 90 dB (see the extract in the “Kelley and Siponen” file attached). The diagram presenting the effects of the most used filters in noise measurements shows just this “no-measurement” that takes place, using A-filters. See the full report of Denis Siponen in 2011 ( p. 7, attached) that clearly underlines the same fact. Instead measurement techniques, as developed by the Australian acoustician Les Huson, should be used. They gives a much more reliable view of what humans and animals experience and react on, with immediate and direct physiological and illness symptoms, as also noticed by medical audiologists. You give a reference (3) in the draft to an article by engineer and then civil servant Jørgen Jakobsen, Denmark (2005) which i.a. of this reason is false because he uses A-filters and consequently never measures the maximal sound pressures in the infrasound range. He has also had close relations to the wt industry which is not disclosed in the article and it is unclear whether it is peer reviewed by medically competent researchers. So that reference should be omitted or at least commented.

 Also the next reference (4) by Knopper & Ollson should be omitted due to a grave conflict of interests, which is even openly admitted by the authors in the article. Extract from the original article:

 “Environmental Health 2011, 10:78 doi:10.1186/1476-069X-10-78

 Competing interests

 In terms of competing interests (financial and non-financial), the authors work for a consulting firm and have worked with wind power companies. The authors are actively working in the field of wind turbines and human health. Dr. Ollson has acted as an expert witness for wind power companies during a number of legal hearings. Although we make this disclosure, we wish to reiterate that as independent scientific professionals our views and research are not influenced by these contractual obligations. The authors are environmental health scientists, trained and schooled, in the evaluation of potential risks and health effects of people and the ecosystem through their exposure to environmental issues such as wind turbines.”

 The ICMJE Conflict of Interest form is used by all reliable medical journals (i.e. where even the journals are without conflicts of interests). Discussing in their article questions about human health the two authors (K & O) and their journal should require the latest version of the ICMJE form used. No medical journal would have accepted to publish this article. To me the authors declaration is an unreserved confession of conflict of interest and it should NEVER have been published. I have in 2011 also pointed out this to the Danish Parliament, because the Knopper & Ollman article was mentioned in an engineer report to the Parliament. Both these references will significantly weaken the credibility of the planned NHMRC research projects or reports if they appear among the references.

 In the draft p. 2: Wt electricity should NOT be called Renewable Energy (RE). Because of the turbines ceaseless requirements, with very short delay, for fossil backup electricity to the grid considerable amounts of CO2 is emitted in the atmosphere from these sources. This is never mentioned by the wt industry, but must be taken into account in the grand total of humanly emitted CO2 . So wt ‘s are far from “green”.

 On p. 19 you describe the procedure about the clearing of the review teams conflicts of interests, ending up with the sentence that is far from clear. What does ” no unmanageable conflicts were identified” mean? What was disclosed about e.g. Wayne Smith, Norm Broner and Elisabeth Hanna and their relations to the wt industry and other alike interests, say Vestas “Act on facts” campaigne launching in summer 2013 in Australia?

 Reference Group declaration of interests — As part of their formal appointment to the Reference Group, each member and observer was required to disclose any factors that may cause or be perceived to cause a conflict of interest with their duties as members of the Reference Group. The declared interests of all Reference Group members and observers have been published on NHMRC’s website. The Reference Group Chair reviewed each member’s declared interests and no unmanageable conflicts were identified.

What did the NHMRC do?

 Could their participation in the reference group be an explanation to the striking fact that only 7 (seven) acceptable articles were found to be useful out of 3 356? Especially the medical research contributions seems to be treated rough. How many in the reference group had medical clinical experience?

 Enclosed a list made by the Canadian researcher Carmen Krogh who works close to the Health Canada project, with peer reviewed references by November 2013.

 Words like “annoyance” and “nuisance” and alike should be avoided in the research to come. Medically they are weakly defined. WHO vocabulary should be used speaking about human health, symptoms and disease.

 P 11 top: human ear should be completed with “..and body..” because much of the sound pressure is registered and signaled further by other parts of the body and nervous etc. systems.

 p. 12: distances mentioned (500 – 1 000 m) are absurd from what we know today about noise from > 1 MW wt’s.

 p. 20: About future research: Much of this of course sounds more promising than other parts of the draft. But why are not more precise areas of necessary research mentioned or described? For example: gene expression, sleep research, stress research, hormonal (ALL hormones included), immunological, psychiatric (depressions), pediatric and gerontological, just to name a few core areas being able to unveil the acute (hours to days/weeks from wt noise onset – a base line from before urgently required) symptoms and signs) combined with a months to several years lasting clinical medical and psychological follow up, combined with clinical identification of risk groups. A large cohort is required here and international research should be planned before start, definitely again without any conflicts of interests.

 p. 23: “Self-report”. This is a very non-medical way to describe the  dialogue between the patient and the physician or psychologist. Again the “self report “ has over-and undertones like “that is just something they say, induced by witchdoctors, perhaps”, “what are they achieving” and much else a la the David Chapman/nocebo/sociological/ psychological terminology. Among physicians nearly only pathologists and forensic medical scientist (and perhaps neonatologists?) are able to perform their complicated work without putting relevant questions to the wt victims to get more details about the anamnestic and actual situation. Just think of a psychiatrist or GP not having to use “self reporting” or take it into account. Life is probably easier for the technical acoustician who only has to grab his dB- gadget, point at the house or person and pronounce "you are not sick" staring at the zero figure on the display of an apparatus, equipped with an A-filter, in an environment well filled up with ILFN at levels of 70 – near 100 dB sound pressure.

 In the CEO invitation letter it disappoints me that the UN (Rio declaration) (also central in EU law) highly relevant “cautionary principle”  is not even mentioned in a painful period with considerable lack of definite scientific knowledge. Look at this:

 ”In order to protect the environment, the precautionary approach shall be widely applied by (UN Member) States according to their capabilities. Where

there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost effective

measures to prevent environmental (including human beings!) degradation.” (UNCED 1992) 

 

The following attachments were provided with the email submission:

1. Full text publication. Citation details: Kelley ND, McKenna HE, Hemphill RR, Etter CL, Garrelts RL, Linn NC. Acoustic noise associated with the MOD-1 Wind Turbine: Its source, impact, and control Colorado: Solar Energy Research Institute, 1985

 2. Images taken from publications, showing different decibel weightings applied to sound pressure levels over varying frequency ranges.

 3. Summary of peer-reviewed articles and conference papers, abstracts and citations, regarding impairment of health in general and relating to industrial wind turbines. Compiled by Carmen Krogh, November 2013.

 4. Research report. Citation details: Siponen D. Noise annoyance of wind farms. Research report VTT-R-00951-11. Technical Research Centre of Finland, 2011.

 

 

 

Page reviewed: 11 February, 2015