Wind turbines not a health risk, panel finds

Posted 1/17/12

BOSTON – A panel of independent science experts concluded that there is little or no evidence of potential health impacts of wind turbines on the public.

The report, “Wind Turbine Health Impact Study: Report of the Independent Expert Panel” was issued Jan. 17. The study was commissioned by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

The report was requested to help address questions raised by the public about potential human health impacts associated with proximity to wind turbines.

The panel was asked to identify any documented or potential human health impacts or risks that may be associated with exposure to wind turbines in order to facilitate discussion of wind turbines and public health based on the best available science.

The panel found there was no evidence of exposure that could be described as “wind turbine syndrome.” Evidence showed that infrasound levels near wind turbines could not impact the vestibular system, it said.

The panel also said that the evidence suggested no association between noise from wind turbines and measures of psychological distress or mental health problems.

Other findings included:

  • None of the limited evidence suggested a relationship between noise from wind turbines and pain and stiffness, diabetes, high blood pressure, tinnitus, hearing impairment, cardiovascular disease, and headaches.

  • There is insufficient evidence to determine whether there is an association between noise from wind turbines and annoyance independent from the effects of seeing a wind turbine and vice versa.

  • There is limited evidence suggesting an association between noise from wind turbines and sleep disruption.

  • Shadow flicker does not pose a risk for eliciting seizures as a result of photic stimulation.

  • There is limited scientific evidence of an association between annoyance from prolonged shadow flicker (exceeding 30 minutes per day) and potential transitory cognitive and physical health effects.

A public comment period on the report, available here, is open until March 19 at 5 p.m. Electronic comments can be submitted to: WindTurbineDocket.MassDEP@MassMail.State.MA.US

Three public meetings on the report will be held in February as part of a 60-day comment period.

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