Community Noise and Health Study

Privacy Impact Assessment

Introduction

Starting in May 2013, Statistics Canada will conduct the Community Noise and Health Study (CHNS) on behalf of Health Canada. The CNHS will collect information to evaluate the health effects associated with exposure to noise sources in Canada.

 It is anticipated that approximately 1200 respondents will complete the survey, with one person aged 18 to 79 years of age selected per household.

Objective

A privacy impact assessment for the CNHS was conducted to determine if there were any privacy, confidentiality and security issues associated with the study, and, if so, to make recommendations for their resolution or mitigation.

Description

The CNHS will provide a means to explore the relationships between noise and health issues, such as, hypertension, levels of chronic stress and measures of sleep quantity and quality.

In a personal interview at their home, respondents will be asked a series of health-related questions and will have their resting blood pressure measured, will be asked to wear a sleep watch during a seven-day period for a sleep evaluation and will be asked to provide a hair sample, which will be sent to a laboratory under contract to Statistics Canada for analysis of chronic stress.

Because of the personal nature of the information being collected, tested and processed, the privacy impact assessment identified a number of potential privacy issues and risks. They include:

  • Transmitting information and samples between Statistics Canada headquarters, the field and the laboratory
  • Transmitting information from respondents to Statistics Canada headquarters through the mail
  • Transmitting information containing personal information from the respondents' homes to the field office to Statistics Canada headquarters
  • Returning physical measurement results to respondents

Measures put in place to address these issues include providing comprehensive information in order to obtain written informed consent from respondents, anonymous identification numbers on samples and other security procedures to ensure the confidentiality and integrity of respondents' information.

Consultations and Review Boards

A number of committees and groups were involved in the development of the CNHS content, design and procedures to address privacy and research ethics questions related to the survey. Members included experts from federal government departments, academia, and international jurisdictions with expertise in wind turbine noise. 

The CNHS design and survey content was extensively reviewed by the Public Health Agency of Canada's Science Advisory Board and the World Health Organization.  The Public Health Agency of Canada also provided departmental approval for research involving humans. Health Canada's Research Ethics Board (REB) reviewed all CNHS protocol and procedures and provided approval to proceed.

Conclusion

With enhanced and existing Statistics Canada safeguards and procedures, as well as those in place at site offices and the laboratory, any remaining risks will be either negligible or are such that Statistics Canada is prepared to accept and manage these risks.

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