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Wind turbines don’t make you sick, says MIT study – just annoyed

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Yet another scientific study has undermined one of the shoutiest claims of the anti-wind movement – that inaudible sound waves (or infrasound) emitted by operating wind turbines causes people living close by to wind farms to get sick, with a litany of symptoms ranging from anxiety, to nausea to migraine, heart disease, sleep deprivation and tinnitus.

The study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology – and published in the November edition of the peer reviewed Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine – finds that living in close proximity to wind farms does not harm human health, but rather causes annoyance – in certain people.

“No clear or consistent association is seen between noise from wind turbines and any reported disease or other indicator of harm to human health,” the MIT study reports.

The study’s authors considered a number of case studies in Europe and the US to assess the impact of infrasound and quality of life for the populations close to wind farms.

They took into consideration health effects such as stress, annoyance and sleep disturbance among others that have, in the past, been raised in association with living close to wind turbines.

The findings revealed that infrasound and low-frequency sound did not present unique health risks, while annoyance seemed more strongly related to individual characteristics than noise from turbines.

The study also found that complaints from nearby residents were more common during the construction of wind farms, rather than during their operation. poland

One case study in northern Poland, identified as the largest study of wind turbine noise, showed that those living next to wind farms reported the best quality of life and those living further than 1,500 meters scored the worst.

The report concluded that living in close proximity to wind farms does not result in the worsening of, and might even improve, the quality of life in that particular region.

“These results should lay to rest any concerns that some citizens may have with regard to living near wind turbines,” said Iván Pineda, head of policy analysis at the European Wind Energy Association.  

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  • Keith

    The impression I get is that farmers are very happy to have a secure income to help ride out the vagaries of life on the land…..

    It is a pity that the shouters have so much prominence over good people who appreciate not only the benefits of clean power generation, but also the benefits to those hosting the wind towers.

  • Richard Mann

    News from Ontario, Canada.

    The irony of this is that Ontario for all its money spent on subsidies for renewable energy, is not even reducing C02 emissions. We have been sold a bill of goods by our government, and by the environmental movement in general. Neither wants
    to admit that this scheme has been a huge failure.

    OSPE (Ontario Society of Professional Engineers) have written a number of reports that show the difficulty integrating intermittent wind energy into the electrical grid. For details look at the document “Engineering Expertise Vital to Success of Ontario’s Electricity System: OSPE”, Jan 16, 2013.

    Engineers’ reports are significant because they are legally bound to report success (or failure) of their projects. Reading the reports you’ll see what we have suspected all along. Engineers must follow government mandate (move to Green energy), but they cannot show a reduction in C02.

  • Richard Mann

    Worldwide, many medical and acoustics experts are speaking out about
    health impacts of wind turbines. For example, see the following list:
    waubrafoundation DOT org DOT au/health/professionals-advocating-independent-research/

    There is a body of research going back decades. Infra sound (low frequency
    noise and vibration) has been known since the early 80’s, studied by the
    department of energy in the USA, when the first generation of wind
    turbines were deployed in USA and Europe. Here is a recent talk about
    health impacts:

    Invited Lecture: Carmen Krogh, “Harm from Wind Turbines: What Has Been Known
    for Decades” Wed 7 May 2014. University of Waterloo.
    new DOT livestream DOT com/itmsstudio/events/2968290

  • George Papadopoulos

    And annoyance makes one sick. Any common sense?

  • Douglas Hynd

    Australian evidence on integration of large scale wind and solar and reduction of emissions from renewable energy is clear. Switching from coal to wind would have a substantial impact in improving public health

  • Juan Guillermo Walker

    It’d interesting to compare those indicators against perceptions or what people think is the cause of their disease ie. They might blame near by Turbines whenever they have headaches or dizziness, etc.

  • Gerald Katz

    Back in the 70s studying environmental health the potential for adverse impacts from wind power generation was already explored and the conclusion was that in an area of high winds the sound of the turbines would be small compared to the noise of a high wind. The same interests that worry about problems with solar and wind energy seem to ignore the very real problems of air and water pollution from coal, petroleum, hydro fracking, nuclear power and climate change. Even roof top solar has critics that make up claims of toxic or other problems with PV cells that are composed of mostly silicon, boron, and phosphorus.