The global wind power developer lobby and others associated with the industry promote the idea that there are no “direct” health effects as a result of the noise and vibration (infrasound, sound pressure, low frequency noise) produced by large-scale wind turbines.
In truth, there is plenty of evidence to support a causal link via indirect pathways. The simplest explanation (but not the whole explanation) is that the noise and vibration keep people awake at night, they do not get restful sleep and in fact are made anxious through the night, and the resultant sleep deprivation in turn causes health problems. This is documented and accepted.
In fact, both the Health Canada study and the report from the Council of Canadian Academies, confirm health impacts from wind turbine noise and infrasound. “Annoyance” –a medical term denoting distress–has been identified; annoyance IS an adverse health effect.
See testimony from Dr Robert McMurtry on annoyance, to the Senate Committee on Wind Turbines in Australia, from May of 2015, here.
In 2016, Paul Schomer PhD, Standards Director Emeritus for the Acoustical Society of America, delivered a paper titled “Effects of Wind Turbine Acoustic Emissions.” In it, he states quite simply:
Audible sound –> annoyance
Infrasound (low frequency/inaudible noise) –> health effects
Both –> sleep disruption
Moreover, the noise emissions from wind turbines are not being measured properly: “A-weighting” is used to assess most noise including transportation noise, and the wind power industry insists that A-weighting should be used to asses wind turbine noise, too. But, says Schomer, A-weighting cuts out much of the high and low frequencies of noise, and wind turbine noise emissions have a strong low-frequency content. Therefore, industry standards, government regulations and the measurements being used by many researchers are not adequate —they are presenting an incomplete picture.
Below is a selection of papers, many “peer-reviewed” that describe the health effects.
Currently, two health studies which have clinical components (i.e., people are being examined, and measurements taken of blood pressure, cortisol levels, etc) as opposed to the literature reviews the industry and government rely on. They are: the Renewable Energy Technology (RETH) study being done at the University of Waterloo, and the study done by Health Canada.
Wind Concerns Ontario had several comments and concerns about the Health Canada study, and filed a formal comment document. Now that a summary has been released, our concerns were well-founded: the result is a poorly designed study (which was not designed to establish a causal relationship, so the authors should not now be saying, there is no link!) with sparse results—nevertheless, the study found that 25% of people within close range of an industrial wind turbine experience adverse health effects.
A summary report from Wind Concerns Ontario’s own expert review panel is here. WCO-HCanResponseFINAL
Wind Concerns Ontario’s comment letter to the World Health Organization, July 2016, is here: WHOStandardsCommentJuly12
Another nice summary of the current research is Carmen Krogh’s presentation at the 2015 ideacity here: http://www.ideacityonline.com/video/carmen-krogh-wind-turbines-can-harm-humans/
Diagnostic criteria by Dr Robert McMurtry and Carmen Krogh, 2014: JRSM Open-2014-McMurtry-
Report on association between wind turbine noise and human health problems by Drs Ian Arra, Hazel Lynn, et al.
Review on the potential effect of introducing a new noise source into the environment, on vulnerable populations such as people with autism spectrum disorder, by Howell et al.
Adverse health effects of industrial wind turbines: a preliminary report Michael Nissenbaum MD, Jeff Aramini PhD, Chris Hanning MD
Summary of New Evidence on Adverse health effects and industrial wind turbines – August 2011 by Carmen M.E. Krogh, BScPharm and Brett S. Horner, BA, CMA
Please visit the Society for Wind Vigilance to learn About Adverse Health Effects & Wind Turbines including:
- Annoyance and Wind Turbines
- Stress and Wind Turbines
- Sleep Disturbance and Wind Turbines
- Physiological Health and Wind Turbines
- Mental Health and Wind Turbines
- Noise and Wind Turbines
- Low Frequency Noise, Infrasound and Wind Turbines
- Visual Health Effects and Wind Turbines
The Dean Report – Impact Assessment of the Waubra Wind Farm by Robert Thorne, PhD, MS, FRSH, MIOA, MAAS
Maine Health Survey, Presentation to Maine Medical Association by Michael A. Nissenbaum, MD
Wind Turbine Noise, John P. Harrison, Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society August 2011 31: 256-261, doi:10.1177/0270467611412549
Full Text (PDF)
The Problems With “Noise Numbers” for Wind Farm Noise Assessment, Bob Thorne, Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society August 2011 31: 262-290, doi:10.1177/0270467611412557
Full Text (PDF)
Properly Interpreting the Epidemiologic Evidence About the Health Effects of Industrial Wind Turbines on Nearby Residents, Carl V. Phillips, Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society August 2011 31: 303-315, doi:10.1177/0270467611412554
Full Text (PDF)
Wind Turbine Noise: What Audiologist Should Know, Jerry Punch, Richard James, and Dan Pabst
Audiology Today, JulAug2010, “Noise from modern wind turbines is not known to cause hearing loss, but the low-frequency noise and vibration emitted by wind turbines may have adverse health effects on humans and may become an important community noise concern.”