Government and public health authorities have failed to protect health, say researchers in a new paper published in Environmental Disease journal
October 24, 2021
Wind power developers and their government supporters have long claimed that there is “no proof” of a link between wind turbine noise emissions and poor health. Yet concerns persist around the world, and there are many people who claim to have had their lives and health adversely affected by being forced to live near the wind power generators.
A new research paper published last week in the Environmental Disease journal concludes that “exposure to IWTs [industrial wind turbines] is associated with an increased risk of AHEs [Adverse Health Effects]. The analysis concludes that living or working near IWTs can result in AHEs in both people and animals.”
The paper addresses the fact that despite many thousands of complaints about noise and health effects around the world, research as yet to conclude a causal relationship between wind turbine noise and poor health. The authors employ a series of criteria developed by famed epidemiologist and statistician Sir Austin Bradford Hill in order to answer that question.
The result? The criteria for establishing a cause and effect relationship were met and the conclusion can be made that “exposure to IWTs is associated with an increased risk” of adverse health effects.
The authors cite studies from all around the world, including Shepherd in New Zealand, the Bridgewater study in Australian and numerous others, as well as papers produced by Wind Concerns Ontario on noise complaints filed with the Ontario government. One study was completed by two acoustics experts who became ill themselves while studying the noise emissions from a wind power project in the United States.
Most noise studies do not accurately measure wind turbine noise
“The vast majority of studies of sound from wind turbines do not accurately measure the presence of LFN [low frequency noise] or infrasound,” the authors said. “This failure of public health authorities and governments to monitor the impact of LFN and infrasound on exposed individuals impedes the proper interpretation of results and is not consistent with the WHO [World Health Organization] report “Guidelines for Community Noise’ that states: ‘When prominent low-frequency components are present, noise measures based on A-weighting are inappropriate’.”
A failure of government and public health authorities
The authors say with the “growing weight of evidence” and the “rapid proliferation of IWT installations globally” it is time for governments to act to protect public health.
“Preventive action should be taken and policies implemented that are more cautiously protective of public health, safety and welfare,” the authors conclude.
“More stringent regulation is needed to recognize, monitor, analyze, and document effects on the health of local residents and animals.”
More effective and precautionary setback distances should also be employed.
In Ontario, the regulations governing the approval and monitoring of industrial-scale wind turbines has not changed since 2009, and many aspects of the regulations still in force today were dictated to previous governments by the wind power lobby, including setback distances.
A statement by Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health published in 2010 also has not been revised (though an update was developed in 2014 but never published). It continues to be used by Ontario medical officers of health as “proof” that there is no link between wind turbine noise and adverse health effects, despite thousands of records of complaints held by the environment ministry.