Wind Concerns Ontario is a province-wide advocacy organization whose mission is to provide information on the potential impact of industrial-scale wind power generation on the economy, human health, and the natural environment.
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.
Academic papers and speeches
A recent academic paper reviews evidence of indirect pathways to adverse health effects with examples from Ontario and around the world. Read it here.
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.
Wind power developers around the world use two Canadian documents to buttress their claims that there are no health effects: the 2010 Chief Medical Officer of Health statement from Ontario, and the 2014 Health Canada wind turbine noise study.
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
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.”
With turbine fires and failures occurring around the world, safety is a growing concern. Here is an article by engineer and occupational safety expert William Palmer on the failures in wind turbines: https://openaccesspub.org/jec/article/888