Dr-Michael-NissenbaumDr. Michael Nissenbaum is a radiologist, not a researcher, acoustician, epidemiologist or public health expert. Additionally, he is a member of the Advisory Board of the anti-wind group, Society for Wind Vigilance. 

Nissenbaum performed a “health survey” of people near two wind farms in Maine, where he lives. The survey was deeply flawed because of the insignificant sample size and the low response rate. Health surveys require at least a 50 percent response rate to be considered useful. The survey identified that it was assessing wind energy noise and health problems, and the questions were leading and pushed desired responses upon the respondents. 

McMurtry attempted to enter Nissenbaum’s study into evidence in the 2013 Bovaird v. Director, Ministry of the Environment ERT in Ontario. The evidence was dismissed.

Nissenbaum has also published a report regarding wind energy and health in a credible peer-reviewed and indexed journal Noise and Health. However, two separate critiques of his paper were published in the same journal pointing out significant errors and erroneous conclusions.

In 2010, Nissenbaum attempted to serve as an expert witness in an ERT in Saskatchewan, Canada. The case was over the Red Lily Wind Energy Corporation proposed wind farm near the townships of Martin and Moosomin, Saskatchewan. The Tribunal wrote: 

Dr. Nissenbaum is a medical doctor. He has not had any specialized training in any of the issues I have identified that are required in order to provide opinion evidence to support the injunction application. Although he has some limited experience as a result of his survey on the Mars Hill project, the nature, size and methodology used in that survey is of no value to the current application…

Dr. Nissenbaum has obtained a great deal of information on this subject, but information is not knowledge, and Dr. Nissenbaum does not have the type of knowledge referred to in the court cases that makes him an expert in any of the areas that I have identified as necessary.

In 2011, Nissenbaum tried again in another Ontario ERT. The Tribunal took the position that most witnesses brought forward would be allowed to testify, but the areas where they were explicitly considered experts would be listed, and their testimony considered in that light. The Tribunal allowed Nissenbaum to give his expert opinion in the areas of diagnostic imaging. 

However, his entire testimony was outside of his area of expertise. The ERT found:

The Nissenbaum Study and Dr. Aramini’s application of it, raise enough questions about the Study to suggest that its results do not meet the legal threshold that wind turbine noise will cause serious harm to human health at the 550 m setback at the Kent Breeze Project. These questions include issues pertaining to: study design, statistical analysis, causation analysis and the transferability of the findings, given the difference in wind turbine design and in the physical lay-out and topography between the study site and that at the Kent-Breeze Project.

Most recently, Nissenbaum’s study was presented as evidence at the Bull Creek Wind Project siting in Alberta in 2013. The final judgment stated: 

The Commission does not find the Nissenbaum study to be compelling evidence that wind turbine noise below 40 dBA will cause sleep disturbance or health effects. The Commission considers that the study’s use of noise data from publicly available records and from a single day of measurements is not a sufficient basis for drawing conclusions about a dose-response relationship for wind turbine noise.

In February of 2014, the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council reviewed Nissenbaum’s study as part of an exhaustive review of wind turbines and health concern studies. The council classified the quality of the study as “poor” because of the clear bias Nissenbaum demonstrated. 

Posted by Energy and Policy Institute