Ir­ish sci­en­tists link them to can­cer, stroke and heart at­tacks

Irish Daily Mail - - Front Page - By Leah McDon­ald

WIND farms can con­trib­ute to peo­ple get­ting dis­eases such as can­cer and heart at­tacks, two lead­ing Ir­ish health ex­perts have warned.

They say that noises emit­ting from tur­bines lead to sleep de­pri­va­tion that can cause can­cer and heart dis­ease, along with a num­ber of other ill­nesses.

Pro­fes­sor Graham Roberts, head of the Depart­ment of En­docrinol­ogy at Univer­sity Hos­pi­tal, Water­ford, and Pro­fes­sor Alun Evans, an ex­pert in public health at Queen’s Univer­sity, Belfast, met Alan Kelly yesterday

to warn the En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter that the cur­rent guide­lines in Ire­land are a cause for alarm.

The rules al­low tur­bines and power lines as close as 500 me­tres to a fam­ily home, while in­ter­na­tional stan­dards de­mand they should be at least 2km away.

Prof Evans, re­cently wrote a re­port point­ing to ‘se­ri­ous ad­verse health ef­fects as­so­ci­ated with noise pol­lu­tion gen­er­ated by wind tur­bines’.

The risks were due to sleep dis­tur­bance and de­pri­va­tion with loud noise be­ing one of the main causes.

He pointed out that sleep de­pri­va­tion is as­so­ci­ated with mem­ory im­pair­ment in chil­dren and dis­turbed cog­ni­tive func­tion in adults.

He told the Ir­ish Daily Mail yesterday that dis­tances be­tween homes and tur­bines should be in­creased.

He said: ‘The bad ef­fects of lowfre­quency noise has been known for at least 40 years, the thing is 500 me­tres does not pro­tect peo­ple. It is in­suf­fi­cien­cies.’

He warned that there is ev­i­dence that the ‘in­fra­sonic sig­na­tures’ that cause the dam­age can be picked up from 50 miles way, adding: ‘It is a se­ri­ous prob­lem. It doesn’t af­fect

Mem­ory dam­age to chil­dren

ev­ery­one the same way. Some­thing like a quar­ter of peo­ple are more sus­cep­ti­ble.’

Prof Evans ex­plained: ‘It is a prob­lem, the big thing be­ing noise and sleep de­pri­va­tion. Once you de­prive peo­ple of sleep you make them more li­able to be­come over­weight and you de­lay their learn­ing be­cause while we sleep we re­in­force mem­ory.

‘De­priv­ing peo­ple of sleep is not a good i dea, over­weight chil­dren be­come obese adults and obese adults are far more likely to [de­velop] a whole range of dis­eases par­tic­u­larly car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease, can­cer and type 2 di­a­betes.’

He added that the noise doesn’t have to have a di­rect ef­fect to cause a prob­lem. ‘It can be in­di­rect but it is still very im­por­tant,’ he said. ‘And you can pre­vent dis­eases by pre­vent­ing the more dis­tant causes.’

And in his re­cent re­port, Dr Evans said t hat t here had been no proper cost- ben­e­fit anal­y­sis in Ire­land be­fore the wide­spread in­tro­duc­tion of wind power.

Both he and Dr Roberts be­lieve there are fun­da­men­tal tech­ni­cal er­rors in re­ports on cur­rent wind farm and power-line projects here.

They are con­cerned over the con­sul­ta­tion process with the public.

Some par­ents of autis­tic chil­dren have par­tic­u­lar fears about the ef­fects tur­bines and high-volt­age py­lons have on their qual­ity of life.

John Cal­laghan has ob­jected to wind farms in Co. Meath, which he fears will af­fect the en­vi­ron­ment and health of his autis­tic son.

The engi­neer, who has stud­ied re­new­able energy at post­grad­u­ate level, said his seven-year-old son is autis­tic and very sen­si­tive to noise and says he has ‘grave con­cerns’ about the im­pact of the pro­posed wind farm on his son, him­self, his fam­ily and the lo­cal area, in­clud­ing wildlife, her­itage and the cul­tural land­scape.

The meet­ing be­tween the pro­fes­sors and the min­is­ter was or­gan­ised by com­mu­nity cam­paigner David Reid of the West­meath Al­liance. Mr Reid said there are sig­nif­i­cant con­cerns about noise pol­lu­tion for peo­ple liv­ing close to wind tur­bines. He said the World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion refers to this as ‘en­vi­ron­men­tal in­som­nia’, if the noise is above a cer­tain thresh­old.

How­ever, last year, a re­view of 500 in­ter­na­tional stud­ies could find no proof of ad­verse health ef­fects caused by ex­po­sure to elec­tro­mag­netic ra­di­a­tion.

Py­lons and mo­bile phones emit elec­tro­mag­netic ra­di­a­tion and some ex­perts be­lieve that high lev­els of ex­po­sure to this ra­di­a­tion could se­ri­ously af­fect our health, pos­si­bly caus­ing can­cer.

But the EU ex­perts said they could not find a di­rect l i nk be­tween elec­tro­mag­netic fields and child- hood leukaemia, de­spite ev­i­dence of a slightly higher risk of in­ci­dence.

And Ken­neth Matthews, CEO of the Ir­ish Wind Energy As­so­ci­a­tion, said: ‘Sig­nif­i­cant ev­i­dence, both at home and abroad, tells us that wind energy is not harm­ful to peo­ple.

‘We would be keen for any de­bate on this mat­ter to be based on fact and the ex­am­i­na­tion of cred­i­ble ev­i­dence so not to cause com­pletely un­war­ranted con­cern to the gen­eral public which could threaten one of Ire­land’s in­dige­nous in­dus­tries.

‘The fact is there is no cred­i­ble ev­i­dence show­ing a link be­tween wind tur­bines and ad­verse health ef­fects, and have been a num­ber of com­pre­hen­sive stud­ies car­ried out in­ter­na­tion­ally in re­cent years which clearly con­clude that wind tur­bines are not harm­ful to peo­ple. The re­al­ity is, clean wind energy is de­liv­er­ing for Ire­land, re­duc­ing our 85 per cent de­pen­dency on ex­pen­sive for­eign energy im­ports, pro­mot­ing in­vest­ment and jobs, and help­ing pro­tect our en­vi­ron­ment for the fu­ture.’

The En­vi­ron­ment Depart­ment has com­mis­sioned a study to re­view and re­port on in­ter­na­tional de­vel­op­ments on the po­ten­tial health ef­fects of elec­tro-mag­netic fields.

In a state­ment yesterday, the depart­ment said rep­re­sen­ta­tives from a num­ber of de­part­ments, with na­tional and in­ter­na­tional ex­perts, are over­see­ing the study which is be­ing un­der­taken by RIVM, the Dutch Na­tional In­sti­tute for Public Health and the En­vi­ron­ment.

Wor­ries for her chil­dren: Carol Duddy lives near five wind tur­bines


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