No Evidence Wind Farms Harm Health 7

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Wednesday, February 11th, 2015
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Australia’s peak health research body has found there is no evidence that wind farms harm health, but has called for further research into the issue.

The National Health and Medical Research Council on Wednesday released its final report on the evidence about whether wind turbines have health effects.

“There is currently no consistent evidence that wind farms cause adverse health effects in humans,” the NHMRC said.

Since the introduction of the renewable energy act in 2000, the number of wind farms in Australia has grown substantially.

At the end of 2013, there were 68 wind farms across the country with more than 1600 turbines.

The study involved a review of over 4000 papers on the health effects of wind farms.

Only 13 of these studies were found to be of “sufficient scientific quality” to consider possible links between wind farms and health.

The NHMRC said there is “poor quality evidence” to suggest that wind-farm noise or living close to a wind farm may be linked to annoyance and, to a lesser extent, with disturbed sleep and poorer quality of life.

The NHMRC will issue a Targeted Call for Research to generate “high quality research” on the turbines and possible health effects, particularly within 1500m from a wind farm.

Anti-wind-farm group the Waubra Foundation argues that turbines can cause health effects out to 10km.

Those opposed to the turbines claim they can cause a wide range of health problems, including insomnia, headaches and dizziness.

The Clean Energy Council welcomed the NHMRC study, saying it came to the same conclusion “reached by dozens of international and local studies”.

“Australia already has some of the world’s strictest regulations for wind farms,” it said.

“We know that further scientific research will only reinforce the fact that wind energy is one of the safest and cleanest forms of energy generation in the world.”

Simon Chapman, professor of public health at Sydney University, undertook a study of 129 Australia who had complained about turbines for noise or health reasons.

The large majority – 116 of 129 – of complainants made their first complaint after 2009 when anti-wind-farm groups “began to add health concerns to their wider opposition”.

“In the preceding years, health or noise complaints were rare despite large- and small-turbine wind farms having operated for many years,” Professor Chapman said in his paper, published in the journal PLOS ONE in 2013.

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Discussions
7
  1. Lindsay Pelser

    was the reasearxh independant or paid for by wind turbine supplier

    • Timothy Offor

      Sadly even this authoritative finding by NHMRC (which is very independent, Lindsay) won't settle the matter. I've advised on many wind farm projects and the conflict around health impacts appears to be largely a clash of values and these are typically the most difficult conflicts to resolve where emotions rather than data rule.

  2. Linda

    Why are there studies like this on renewables, but the ones on fracking/drilling etc are all thrown under the rug?

  3. Andrew Heaton

    Good question, Lindsay.

    However, one would think this is independent. The National Health and Research Council is a body of the Australian government so their research was no doubt government funded rather than industry funded. I assume this means we can have a reasonable level of confidence in the independence of this study.

  4. Shane

    Why on earth do you have to fund a study into this? Anyone independent of the argument could tell you a 200m tall tower with blades the size of a380s moving at 300ks an hour plus next to your once peaceful residence is going to drive you insane. . Now imagine there is 120 of them..
    Then you have certain so called professors saying its in your head or your just jealous.
    Thank god for Abbott. .

  5. Cameron Love

    No Australian nor international medical nor scientific body has found any evidence of significant health risks associated with wind turbine generators. Moreover, this means no carbon dioxide, no carbon monoxide, no nitrous oxides, no mercury, no arsenic, no lead, no radioactive waste, no particulates nor any other type of air pollution, unlike coal-fired and nuclear power sources. NSW Health has noted that the symptoms reported by residents concerned by wind farms are also reported by those living near other new developments of various kinds. Studies suggest these symptoms are suggestible, ie. if individuals are expecting to be impacted they will be more likely to report symptoms. It was also suggested that the visibility of the turbines influenced the likelihood of complaints from a neighbour.

  6. Matthew Ruffin

    There have been 18 meta-studies of hundreds of peer-reviewed studies across 4 decades in every part of the world. Wind turbines don't hurt people. That some still ignore this evidence is pure cognitive dissonance on par with climatezombie-ism, evolution and vaccine denial.