Australia's leading medical research body has concluded that there is no compelling evidence which points to wind farms posing a direct threat to human health.
A new study by the National Health and Medical Research Council has concluded that there is no conclusive or reliable evidence that the presence of wind farms is a direct cause of human health problems.
The study undertaken by the Council began toward the end of 2012, and consisted of a review of the published scientific literature concerning the impact on human health of wind farms.
Detractors of wind farms claim the turbines which serve as their mainstay devices can cause a broad variety of health problems in nearby residents, including dizziness, headaches and insomnia.
The council’s study examined research on the potential direct causes of such ailments, including electromagnetic radiation, noise pollution and shadow flicker, yet found no compelling evidence of a direct causal relationship involving any of these factors.
Professor Warwick Anderson, chief executive of the council, said the study was systematic and of a high quality. The review is yet to conclude however, with published studies of a more recent date to be considered prior to the release of the council’s final findings.
Out of the 2,850 published works identified by council researchers and the 506 public submissions they received, only seven were considered to be of sufficient quality to included in the review.
While the review did uncover consistent evidence that residing in close proximity to a wind farm could cause “annoyance,” it also indicated that the definition of “annoyance” in many of the studies was too vague and subjective to be useful.
Professor Bruce Armstrong, said the source of such annoyance could be multiple factors, including the visual impact of a wind farm, and may not be related to aspects of its operation which can have a direct physical impact, such as noise pollution or electromagnetic radiation.
The review found there is little likelihood of the noise from wind farms being heard from a distance of greater than 500 to 1,500 metres.
Industry members and environmental advocates alike have hailed the findings of the review, although Sarah Laurie, chief executive of wind farm opposition group the Waubra Foundation, called for further studies on the “full spectrum of acoustic measurements inside people’s homes.”
The Abbott government has undertaken to conduct further research into the health impact of wind farms, with plans to launch a research study which will be supervised by either the research council or an independent panel of experts, as well as a commitment to conduct real time monitoring of the noise generated by wind farms.