A multidisciplinary panel concluded that the sounds generated by wind turbines are not harmful to human health, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) announced last week.
Comprised of medical doctors, audiologists, and acoustical professionals from the United States, Canada, Denmark, and the United Kingdom, the panel undertook extensive review, analysis, and discussion of the large body of peer-reviewed literature, specifically with regard to sound produced by wind turbines. The expert panel was established by AWEA and the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) to review all current literature available on the issue of perceived health effects of wind turbines.
"The panel’s multidisciplinary approach helped to fully explore the many published scientific reports related to the potential impact of wind turbines on people’s health," said Dr. Robert J. McCunney, one of the authors of the study and an occupational/environmental medicine physician and research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). "There is no evidence that the sounds, nor the sub-audible vibrations, emitted by wind turbines have any direct adverse physiological effects on humans."
"The objective of the panel was to provide an authoritative, scientific reference document for those making legislative and regulatory decisions about wind turbine developments," said AWEA CEO Denise Bode. "This study is another indication that wind is one of the most environmentally benign sources of electricity available."
Other findings include:
- "The sounds emitted by wind turbines are not unique. There is no reason to believe, based on the levels and frequencies of the sounds, that they could plausibly have direct adverse physiological effects."
- If sound levels from wind turbines were harmful, it would be impossible to live in a city given the sound levels normally present in urban environments.
- "Sub-audible, low frequency sound and infrasound from wind turbines do not present a risk to human health."
- "Some people may be annoyed at the presence of sound from wind turbines. Annoyance is not a pathological entity."
For more than thirty years, people have been living near the more than 50,000 wind turbines operating in Europe and the more than 30,000 in North America. The vast majority of people have had a positive experience living near wind turbines, with no ill effects, AWEA said.
An executive summary of the report is available at the link below.