This article by Zoë Casey is cross-posted from the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) blog.
A new study, published by the Bavarian Environment Agency in Germany, has found that wind turbines do not generate infrasound at a level that would damage human health, backing up previous studies with similar conclusions.
Wind energy structures generate infrasound which is far below normal human hearing and perception, which is why it cannot cause any damage to people, the study – ‘Wind turbines: does infrasound affect health?’ concludes. Angeliki Koulouri, Research Officer at EWEA, said: “So far, research indicated that infrasound and low frequency sounds from modern wind turbines are well below the level where known health effects occur.”
A separate study, published by the American Wind Energy Association and the Canadian Wind Energy Association in 2009, found that: “there is no evidence that the audible or sub-audible sounds emitted by wind farms have any direct physiological impacts.” Moreover, the study found that ground vibrations from wind turbines are too weak to be detected by humans.
Further supporting these claims, a study commissioned by the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority in New Zealand in 2004 found that the levels of infrasound from wind turbines are inaudible, even at close distances to the turbines. Low-frequency or infrasound from current wind turbine types would not cause any concern for people living close to wind farms, the study concluded.
Meanwhile, wind farms do not emit any of the toxic and often carcinogenic chemicals that are associated with burning fossil fuels. Last year a US group – Physicians for Social Responsibility – released a report on the impacts of coal on the human body. Coal combustion releases carbon dioxide, mercury, particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, sulphur dioxide and dozens of other substances known to be hazardous to human health.
The byproducts released by burning coal harm the respiratory system, can trigger cardiovascular effects and impact the nervous system, the study found. Furthermore, “even people who do not develop illness from coal pollutants will find their health and well-being impacted due to coal’s contribution to global warming,” the study said, adding that the possible health effects of a warmer planet including heat stroke, malaria, declining food production, scarce water supplies, social conflict and starvation.
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Public opinion watch: Ontarians: Wind power one of safest forms of electricity generation, March 6, 2012
Opinion: Wind turbines are good for our health, March 2, 2012
Review of wind turbine sound studies gives debate needed balance, February 28, 2012
Anti-wind-farm ‘astroturfers’ in Australia, February 27, 2012
NBC4's 'iReporter' lacks context on wind turbine sound, February 14, 2012
Fact check: Bryce misleads again on land, sound, resource use, January 31, 2012
Despite science, wind turbine sound sparks discussion in Wisconsin, January 30, 2012
Massachusetts clears wind of health effects after independent experts review evidence, January 20, 2012
Opinion: Dr. W. David Colby: Turbines and health, December 2, 2011
Canadian researchers: No direct link between wind turbines and health, November 29, 2011
Wind power: A quiet solution to climate change, June 27, 2011
Sierra Club Canada 1.1: Time to confront anti-wind fear campaign, June 15, 2011
Environmental Defence (Canada): 'No basis' for health impact claims, June 6, 2011
Sierra Club Canada: Time to confront anti-wind disinformation campaign, June 3, 2011
WINDPOWER report: New study finds minimal low-frequency and infrasound impact from wind turbines, May 25, 2011
Does the sound of money soothe Wind Turbine Syndrome?, April 25, 2011
WHO guidelines on sound are … guidelines, March 28, 2011
Scientists, doctor weigh in on wind and health, November 30, 2010
Wind turbine sound: The neighbors speak, March 18, 2010
Expert panel concludes wind turbine sounds not harmful to human health, December 15, 2009