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Wind Turbines and health: a page of Wind in the Bush


Contents of this page...

Introduction
Sound, infrasound or pressure pulses?
NHMRC report 2015
Health Canada's report
Two competing theories
Health problems without wind farms
The importance of science
Factors other than sound
Wind Turbine Syndrome
Case against turbines unconvincing
Research into wind turbines and health
  What research should be done?
  Recent research
Legal record
How could turbines make people ill?
Anecdotal evidence
Distance between turbines and houses
Seismic waves from wind turbines
Doctors for the Environment Australia
Climate and Health Alliance
Waubra Foundation
Blood pressure and turbines
Opinion from clinical psychologist
Epidemic hysteria
Environmental causes of illness
Dose
Attitude
No sickness in WA or Europe
Is your car making you ill?
Invitation to lie?
Waubra disease
Good and bad infrasound?
Links
Index

Other pages

Wind turbines save lives
Wind power problems
Ex Dr Sarah Laurie
Wind in the Bush aims to be the most informative, comprehensive, and up-to-date pages on Australian wind power and wind farms. The author is not beholden to any company, lobby group, or government. *


 

Request

In these pages I attempt to provide the facts. If anyone finds any errors here please inform me (email address below), giving evidence supporting your claim. If I find the evidence convincing I will make appropriate changes.
 

Prof. Simon Chapman and Teresa Simonetti

Reviews of the health literature

Ridiculous health claims

 

Evidence and belief

If the evidence contradicts your belief should you ignor the evidence or change your belief?
There have been many claims that turbines cause illness, and probably some people honestly believe that turbines have made them ill. So far as I have been able to find out, there is no regulatory, scientific or medical body in the world that supports the view that wind turbines make people sick. It is far more likely that the annoyance, anxiety and fear that some people who live near wind turbines develop leads on to stress and psychogenic illnesses. This is greatly exacerbated by rumour-mongers who tell them they should feel sick if they live near wind turbines and irresponsible and lazy reporters who repeat these stories.

Most importantly, apart from the sound that turbines make, which is not loud, how could turbines make people ill; what could be the mechanism? Some people do find the sound of wind turbines annoying and this causes some people sleeping problems, but of course there are a huge range of annoying sounds in the modern world.

It seems that complaints about nearby wind farms, regarding illness or simply annoyance, are often related to negative feelings about the wind farms. A feeling that a wind farm has somehow violated a person's space can be very important. Psychologists have shown that perceptions are very important in regard to health.

Finally, we must consider the health problems that we will face if we do not build wind farms.

Using this page: some hints

 
Google search Ramblings DC
This and most other pages of 'Wind in the Bush' are set out like reference books. There is a contents list at the top of each page and at least one index at the bottom of the page. Use these to find the subject you want, or use CTRL F to find words or phrases that interest you. Or use Google search; in the box on the right. All the main pages of 'Wind in the Bush' are listed at the top left of the Wind Home page and most on each of the states' pages.

This page was previously a part of Wind Power Problems;
and was created as a separate page 2010/09/01, modified 2016/07/24 – ©
About these pages
Contact: email daveclarkecb@yahoo.com

Sunset at Waterloo
Sunset at Waterloo wind farm

Some people even believe that solar PV panels can cause similar health problems to those claimed to be caused by wind turbines. They say that PV panels produce 'dirty electricity'. Is there no end to human foolishness?

Introduction

Turbine noise can cause some sleep deprivation to a small minority of people who live within a kilometre or so of a turbine, and continually hearing and seeing turbines can lead to anxiety in some people, but all the evidence available to the present suggests that turbines do not produce enough noise or vibration to cause physical problems. One could speculate that some people, especially those who don't like wind turbines, would find wind turbine sounds as annoying as others find neighbour's music – so long as it's audible, it's annoying. Being annoyed by unwanted sounds for a long period could lead to anxiety and then to physical symptoms.

 

Why you should not believe that wind turbines cause illness

There are a number of reasons why nobody should believe the claim that wind turbines cause illness. (Follow the given links if you want to see evidence supporting the arguments.) Wind turbines do cause some annoyance, noise problems and probably a loss of sleep in a few cases.
  1. Science: There is nothing in respectable peer-reviewed scientific journals indicating a direct link between wind turbines and ill-health. If wind turbines really were making people ill it would not be difficult to do research to provide convincing evidence of this; such research has not been done (or has failed). In addition to the peer-reviewed literature science depends on rational argument – the points below show that it is irrational to claim that turbines cause health problems;
  2. Cause: There is no known mechanism by which turbines could make people ill. There are very few things known to science that are undetectable to our senses yet can cause us harm from a distance – wind turbines produce none of these. (Levels of infrasound from wind turbines are much too low to be harmful);
  3. Dose: There is little, if any, correspondence between a person's exposure to wind turbines and their likelihood of reporting symptoms. The intensity of anything radiating from a wind turbine must decrease with distance according to the inverse square law of physics. The claimed illnesses are just as likely to occur at larger distances rather than smaller: they show no dose-response correlation, which is quite counter to the science of epidemiology.
  4. Selectivity: The great majority of people are unaffected and the alleged cases of illness are almost all in people who get no financial benefit from the wind turbines and in those who started with negative opinions about turbines. Farmers who are receiving lease payments and wind farm workers hardly ever claim a health problem with turbines. The 'problems' are largely confined to English-speaking countries (because that's where the publicity has been).
  5. Legal cases: From 1998 to 2014 there were 49 legal cases against wind power on health grounds; 48 were decided in favour of wind power. (See Energy Policy Institute; written by Mike Barnard.)
  6. Symptoms: While I have no expertise in the field, I believe that the symptoms usually associated with wind turbines are those of anxiety-related disorders (see Opinion from a clinical psychologist);
  7. Car analogy: Wind turbines have three main parts: a fan, a gearbox and a generator. Our cars have the same parts. Sound levels at all frequencies are much higher in cars than near wind turbines. How many of us think that our cars are making us sick?;
  8. My own experience: I have visited many wind farms on many occasions and have even slept beneath operating wind turbines five times. I have never heard sounds from the turbines loud enough to be unpleasant. I have never felt any ill-effects that might be ascribed to infrasound or any other emanations from the turbines.
The fear and anxiety toward wind turbines that is instilled in some people by irresponsible rumour mongers and unethical or ill-informed journalists may lead on to psychosomatic disorders. These people are largely to blame for the epidemic hysteria around wind farms that we are seeing in some English speaking countries.

What external agencies cause illness?

There are very few thing outside of the human body that cause illnesses. They include: ionising radiation, extremes of temperature, violent physical impacts and toxins and micro-organisms – after they enter the body. Wind turbines produce none of these.

Very loud noise can cause harm and lower levels of noise can cause annoyance and difficulty in sleeping. Wind turbines do cause some noise, but at lower levels than many other common sources such as road traffic.

Human propensity for false beliefs

There are well proven common causes for ill-health that humans manage to ignore, the high level of salt in prepared foods is one of these; and there are other things that many people believe make them ill, but for which evidence is lacking.

At various times and places people have believed that they have been made sick by sorcery, the evil eye, curses and witches; more recently and controversially, by high tension power lines, vaccinations and mobile telephone transmissions. Evidence has been lacking.

People are very prone to believe things for which there is no convincing evidence, water divining, for example. Google 'alien abduction' and you get three-quarters of a million hits. Recently there has been a lot of publicity of supposedly recovered memories of sexual molestation in childhood that have turned out to actually be induced false memories. Then there's religion, at most only one of the Worlds innumerable religions or branches of religions can be right.

Psychosomatic disorder (or effect)

Defined by Encyclopaedia Britannica as "A condition in which psychological stresses adversely affect physiological (somatic) functioning to the point of distress." In relation to wind turbines, psychosomatic – and its near synonym, 'psychogenic' – apply to illnesses brought about by anxiety or stress relating to the turbines. While these illnesses might cause very real symptoms, they are due to the anxiety, not directly to the turbines.

People can become stressed by almost anything. I could become stressed by a magpie that regularly swoops on me, for example. The stress then could cause me to become ill. Would reasonable people then say that the magpie made me ill, or rather would they say that it was a disproportional emotional response to the swooping magpie that brought about my illness?

Senate submission from the Molonglo Landscape Guardians

"It is our view that, whatever the after-effects of living with a wind farm may be, the detrimental health effects commence the moment residents learn of the developer's plans to install an industrial wind plant in their neighbourhood."
Korean fan death warning sticker
Fan death warning
There is a belief among a few people in Korea that fans chop up oxygen molecules and can cause asphyxia if used in a closed room. There is just as much, and just as little, reason to believe this as there is to believe that wind turbines make people ill.

Smart meter sickness

Just as weird and unjustifiable as belief in 'Wind Turbine Syndrome'; stop smart meters before they make us all sick!
"To date, no peer reviewed articles demonstrate a direct causal link between people living in proximity to modern wind turbines, the noise they emit and resulting physiological health effects." (Loren D. Knopper and Christoper A. Ollson in 'Health Effects and Wind Turbines: A Review of the Literature'; Environmental Health, 2011/09/14; see Links.)

In their submission to the Senate inquiry into 'The Social and Economic Impact of Rural Wind Farms' the CFMEU (Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union) make the point that members of their union have not had any problems with illnesses caused by wind turbines in spite of working at very close quarters with them.

 
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Most of the people who report illness that they blame on the wind turbines had negative opinions on the turbines before the wind farm involved was built and receive no direct financial benefit from it. Wind turbines are tall and are often built on the tops of ridges, so they are conspicuous. People living near turbines and having negative views about them are continually reminded of their presence, quite possibly leading to a feeling of being threatened.

Some, or even many, of those who claim that turbines cause sickness would have us believe that there is something coming from wind turbines, other than the sounds that everyone who visits a wind farm can hear, and beyond the low levels of infrasound that acousticians can detect, that makes people sick; and yet they seem unable to tell us what that thing is.

The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) released a report in July 2010 stating that "there is no published scientific evidence to support adverse effects of wind turbines on health." They confirmed this with a further report (following four years of investigation) in 2014. The Australian Medical Association produced a position paper, also in 2014, agreeing with the NHMRC.

The Victorian Department of Health (DH) (WorkSafe, 2010) has examined both the peer-reviewed and validated scientific research and concluded that "the weight of evidence indicated that there are no direct health effects from noise (audible and inaudible) at the levels generated by modern wind turbines."

Humans are notoriously inclined to believe things without supporting evidence, in particular they have wrongly blamed illness on innumerable supposed causes throughout history. This should make us very wary about carefully looking at the evidence.

Due to the lack of convincing evidence, my own opinion has varied between thinking that it is unbelievable that wind turbines could make people sick to accepting that they might, under some circumstances, make some people sick. (There is nothing wrong with being undecided. I have written elsewhere of the importance of doubt. In fact when the evidence one way or the other is inconclusive we should be particularly careful to not make up our minds. As Bertrand Russell said, "The opinions that are held with passion are always those for which no good ground exists; indeed the passion is the measure of the holder's lack of rational conviction.")

The illnesses claimed to be caused by wind turbines have been grouped together by Dr Nina Pierpont under the name 'wind turbine syndrome'. A report commissioned by the Canadian and American wind industry associations pointed out that the symptoms of wind turbine syndrome are the same as those seen in the general population due to the stresses of daily life.

 
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In his Paper "Wind Turbine Syndrome – An appraisal" dated 26 August 2009, Dr Leventhall critiques the work of Dr Nina Pierpont but does agree with Dr Pierpont concerning the symptoms of Wind Turbine Syndrome. "I am happy to accept these symptoms, as they have been known to me for many years as the symptoms of extreme psychological stress from environmental noise, particularly low frequency noise. The symptoms have been published before".

In his testimony to the Australian Senate Inquiry into the Social and Economic Impact of Rural Wind Farms Mr Ken Andrew McAlpine (Director; Policy and Government Relations, Asia-Pacific Region, Vestas Australian Wind Technology Pty Ltd) pointed out that health concerns about wind turbines are confined to those areas where there are significant lobbies telling people that turbines are making them ill: Australia, in the north-eastern US (where Nina Pierpont comes from), some regions of Canada, and in the UK where the Country Guardians publicises the claims. He said that "In the other countries in which [Vestas] operates this is a very rare thing."

Sound, infrasound or pressure pulses?

Sound (or noise) from wind turbines was once the main concern of those who claimed adverse health effects from wind turbines. It is true that the sound of wind turbines can be annoying to some people. The sound problems are greatest when the air is calm at low levels (around houses), but moving at higher levels (at turbine height); this situation happens most often at night – the night is quite, but the turbines are working and making sound.

However, sound levels from turbines are much too low to cause the physical damage to hearing associated with loud sounds such as jack-hammers, rock bands, etc.;

After blaming sound for illnesses for some time, the so called Waubra Foundation, the main turbine-illness advocacy group in Australia, aparently decided they were not convincing anyone. So they changed to blaming infrasound for the 'illnesses'.

When the South Australian EPA reported that infrasound levels near wind turbines were no higher than elsewhere, the 'Waubra Foundation' changed to blaming 'pressure pulses'.

It is quite possible that wind turbine noise causes sleep disturbance in some people. Some people find even low levels of turbine noise annoying, as others find low levels of neighbour's music annoying. The lack of sleep caused by the annoyance then can have adverse health effects.

Pedersen and Persson Waye surveyed 725 people in the Netherlands (2009) regarding the level of annoyance they perceived from various sources. Their results indicated that the sound from wind turbines was more annoying than similar levels of sound from road, rail and air traffic.

It has been claimed that domestic animals have also been negatively affected by wind turbines: it has been claimed that lambing rates and milk production declined, dogs were made nervous, that the health of honey bees has been adversely affected, but there is no convincing evidence for these claims.

There is no known mechanism by which wind turbines might cause the health problems claimed by wind farm opponents. There is a lack of evidence that sound, audible or infrasound, at low levels is harmful. The lack of a mechanism is a major flaw in the case for wind turbine syndrome. Of course it is quite possible that some people become anxious about the wind turbines and then the anxiety leads to illness (see psychosomatic disorder).

There is reason to believe that some people claim intolerable noise in order to justify compensation for a home that they had previously been unable to sell for a price sufficient to buy in a more attractive area.

Wind turbines at sunrise
Wind turbines at sunrise
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Added 2015/02/14

National Health and Medical Research Council report of February 2015

 

Comments on the report

Professor Simon Chapman writing on The Conversation, 2015/02/11; Why a dedicated research fund for wind farms and health?

Professor Chapman pointed out that there have now been 24 reviews of the evidence that have come to very similar conclusions – there is no evidence that wind farms cause health problems. (Twenty of the reviews are listed on another page on this site.)

James Whitmore writing on The Conversation, 2015/02/11; No evidence wind farms directly impact health: NHMRC.

National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) "Statement and Information Paper: Evidence on Wind Farms and Human Health".

The summary:

"Examining whether wind farm emissions may affect human health is complex, as both the character of the emissions and individual perceptions of them are highly variable.

After careful consideration and deliberation of the body of evidence, NHMRC concludes that there is currently no consistent evidence that wind farms cause adverse health effects in humans.

Given the poor quality of current direct evidence and the concern expressed by some members of the community, high quality research into possible health effects of wind farms, particularly within 1,500 metres (m), is warranted."
The emphasis on the second paragraph is mine. There have now been about 24 reviews of the scientific literature that all produced much the same conclusion as that expressed in the second paragraph.

It has been suggested that the Health Minister pressured the chairman of the NHMRC to include the last paragraph above. The Abbott Government is notoriously opposed to renewable energy and biased toward the coal industry. It is very hard for a well informed observer to see why such research would be warranted, when there is absolutly no evidence for adverse health impacts.

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Added 2014/02/24

National Health and Medical Research Council report of February 2014

The "Draft Information Paper: Evidence on Wind Farms and Human Health" can be downloaded from the NHMRC Net site.

Below is a direct quote of the "Summary of the evidence" section of the report.

Statement on the evidence

There is no reliable or consistent evidence that wind farms directly cause adverse health effects in humans.

Noise

  • There is no reliable or consistent evidence that proximity to wind farms or wind farm noise directly causes health effects.
  • There is consistent but poor quality evidence that proximity to wind farms is associated with annoyance and, less consistently, with sleep disturbance and poorer quality of life. Finding an association between wind farms and these health-related effects does not mean that wind farms cause these effects. These associations could be due to selection or information bias or to confounding factors.
  • There is no direct evidence that specifically considered possible health effects of infrasound or low-frequency noise from wind turbines.
  • It is unlikely that substantial wind farm noise would be heard at distances of more than 500-1500 m from wind farms. Noise levels vary with terrain, type of turbines and weather conditions.
  • Noise from wind turbines, including its content of low-frequency noise and infrasound, is similar to noise from many other natural and human-made sources. There is no evidence that health or health-related effects from wind turbine noise would be any different to those from other noise sources at similar levels.
  • People exposed to infrasound and low-frequency noise in a laboratory (at much higher levels than those to which people living near wind farms are exposed) experience few, if any, effects on body functioning.
Shadow flicker
  • There is insufficient direct evidence to draw any conclusions on an association between shadow flicker produced by wind turbines and health outcomes.
  • Flashing lights can trigger seizures among people with a rare form of epilepsy called photosensitive epilepsy. The risk of shadow flicker from wind turbines triggering a seizure among people with this condition is estimated to be very low.
Electromagnetic radiation
  • There is no direct evidence on whether there is an association between electromagnetic radiation produced by wind farms and health outcomes.
  • Extremely low-frequency electromagnetic radiation is the only potentially important electromagnetic emission from wind turbines.
  • Limited evidence suggests that the level of extremely low-frequency electromagnetic radiation close to wind farms is less than average levels measured inside and outside Australian suburban homes.
  • There is no consistent evidence of human health effects from exposure to extremely low-frequency electromagnetic radiation at much higher levels than is present near wind farms.

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Australian Medical Association

In a position statement of 2014 titled Wind Farms and Health the Australian Medical Association reported:
"The available Australian and international evidence does not support the view that the infrasound or low frequency sound generated by wind farms, as they are currently regulated in Australia, causes adverse health effects on populations residing in their vicinity."
This is similar to the findings of the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) mentioned elsewhere on this page.
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Health Canada's report

Health Canada, November 2014; Wind Turbine Noise and Health Study: Summary of Results – health and quality of life were found to be unaffected by nearby wind turbines, some annoyance was found.

With particular regard to the present subject, Health Canada reported that:

"The following were not found to be associated with WTN exposure:
  • self-reported sleep (e.g., general disturbance, use of sleep medication, diagnosed sleep disorders);
  • self-reported illnesses (e.g., dizziness, tinnitus, prevalence of frequent migraines and headaches) and chronic health conditions (e.g., heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes); and
  • self-reported perceived stress and quality of life.
While some individuals reported some of the health conditions above, the prevalence was not found to change in relation to WTN levels.

Results of self-reported measures of sleep, that relate to aspects including, but not limited to general disturbance, use of sleep medication, diagnosed sleep disorders and scores on the PSQI [Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index], did not support an association between sleep quality and WTN [wind turbine noise] levels.

Self-reports of having been diagnosed with a number of health conditions were not found to be associated with exposure to WTN levels. These conditions included, but were not limited to chronic pain, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, dizziness, migraines, ringing, buzzing or whistling sounds in the ear (i.e., tinnitus).

Self-reported stress, as measured by scores on the Perceived Stress Scale, was not found to be related to exposure to WTN levels.

Exposure to WTN was not found to be associated with any significant changes in reported quality of life for any of the four domains, nor with overall quality of life and satisfaction with health."

In other words, there was no link found between sleep disorders, health, stress, or quality of life and actual levels of wind turbine noise. However, a link between the level of wind turbine noise and annoyance was found.





 
Written 2012/08/07

Two competing theories

Some people who live or work near wind turbines complain of unpleasant symptoms and believe that the turbines are the cause. There are also many people living and working near wind turbines who have no problems from the turbines. I think these two statements would be accepted by almost everyone. The argument is about what it is that is causing the symptoms in the first group.

We can chose one of two theories that seek to explain this:

Theory 1

The symptoms are caused by the nocebo effect, often combined with fear and anxiety (as discussed in the opinion of a clinical psychologist);

OR

Theory 2

The symptoms are caused by something coming from the wind turbines; in which case we must also accept that:
  • Something unknown to science is coming from the wind turbines – or there is some quality in the sound of wind turbines unexplained by science – to cause the symptoms, because we know that the sound (including infrasound) is not loud enough to be harming anyone;
  • There is a huge range in people's susceptability to whatever it is that is coming from the turbines; for example wind farm workers who have thousands of times the exposure of 'affected people' are almost always unaffected.
  • We must suspend the inverse square law of physics as it would normally apply to anything coming from wind turbines;
  • The dose-response relationship, that applies to all other environmental diseases, does not apply to 'wind turbine syndrome', or is even reversed;
  • There is something different happening around wind turbines in the English speaking world, because very few people in non-English-speaking countries develop these symptoms.

Which theory sounds the more plausible?

The principal of Ockham's Razor tells us that if more than one hypothesis fits the available evidence then the simplest one is to be preferred. One is also reminded of the Sagan Standard in which exceptional claims call for exceptional evidence to support them. There is no scientifically acceptable evidence supporting the 'Wind Turbine Syndrome' claim.

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Local medical practice near a wind farm

A visit to a GP, 24th June 2015

My home is in Crystal Brook where the local medical practice happens to be the nearest to the 27-turbine Clements Gap Wind Farm. I visited one of the local doctors today. She is relatively new to Crystal Brook, has been here for only four months. It was the first time I had consulted her and I asked if anyone had complained to her about being made ill by the wind turbines.

Less than 15km separates the town from the turbines, and Sarah Laurie (who was for a short while a GP at the same medical practice) is also a local. Sarah has for years been busy telling the world that turbines can harm people even from a distance of 15km, and there are quite a few who live much closer to the turbines than the town itself, some within a kilometre or so. You'd think, even if you knew that wind turbines don't really make people ill, at least a few people in the vicinity might believe that their health had been affected and complain to the local doctors.

The astute reader is probably foreseeing what is coming. The doctor had not had anyone complain about being made ill by the turbines. Some readers might quite reasonably ask: "Yes, but she was new to the town, what about the other doctors?"

She was the sixth doctor in the Crystal Brook medical practice who I have asked over the years. Not one of them reported any medical complaints relating to the wind farm!

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Altered 2014/06/14

Health problems without wind farms

 

Health problems from coal and gas

The Climate and Health Alliance got together with the Public Health Association of Australia to produce a short video on the very real health risks of mining and burning coal and unconventional gas.

Wind power saves lives

The WHO released a report in March 2014 estimating that air pollution kills about seven million people each year.

There is now a page on this site about how wind turbines save lives and illnesses by reducing the air pollution from coal-fired power stations.

If we do not change to sustainable energy, including wind power, the alternative (since there is not enough uranium in the world to replace fossil fuels with nuclear power) is to stay with burning fossil fuels with the resulting ocean acidification and unrestrained climate change, which has been called "the biggest global health threat of the 21st century" in a recent issue of the prestigious peer-reviewed science journal, The Lancet.

The proven health problems relating to the burning of fossil fuels (especially coal, bunkering oil used for shipping, and diesel oil) are far worse than any that are claimed to be caused by wind turbines. For example, the World Health Organisation tells us that air pollution, much of it from burning coal, kills seven million people each year. Wikipedia, under Environmental effects of coal burning, states that "Coal-fired power plants shorten nearly 24 000 lives a year in the United States, including 2 800 from lung cancer".

Proven harmful substances released into the atmosphere by the burning of fossil fuels include: particulate matter, sulphur dioxide, oxides of nitrogen, carbon monoxide and mercury; among others.

The Human Cost of Energy:
Extracted from Scientific American, September 2011

 
Deaths from Energy Production Accidents
(per 100 gigawatts of power generated for a year)
Coal12.00
Oil9.37
Natural Gas7.19
Nuclear0.73
Hydro0.27
Wind – onshore0.19
Enhanced Geothermal0.17
Photovoltaic0.02
The article was written by Mark Fischetti.

The figures in the table on the right were compiled by the Paul Scherrer Institute in Switzerland, which studied more than 1800 accidents worldwide over 30 years.

 
U.S. Health Burden Caused by Particulate
Pollution from Fossil-Fuelled Power Plants
(Mean number of cases per year)
Pneumonia (hospital admissions)4 040
Cardiovascular ills (hospital admissions)9 720
Premature deaths30 100
Acute bronchitis cases59 000
Asthma attacks603 000
Lost workdays5 130 000
"The lion's share of human costs, however, comes not from accidents but from pollution, which makes fossil fuels the most dangerous form of energy generation." Mark Fischetti

"People are often not aware of what is happening to them in daily life." Peter Burgherr, head of technology assessment at the energy systems analysis laboratory at the Paul Scherrer Institute.

Sydney Morning Herald on health benefits of clean energy

The following was written by Fiona Armstrong and printed in the SMH on 2012/06/25.
"Health economists have evaluated the health benefits associated with emissions reductions in Europe, China, India and Britain, and the findings suggest improvements for health are available immediately – and can amount to billions of dollars saved annually from avoided ill health and productivity gains. For example, in 2010 it was predicted that cleaner air from an emissions reduction target of 30 per cent by 2020 in the European Union would deliver savings worth 80 billion euros a year due to reductions in the incidence of respiratory and cardiovascular diseases (associated with air pollution from burning fossil fuels)."
Air pollution kills more people in Australia each year than the road toll. The benefits of clean, renewable, energy go well beyond reducing CO2 emissions. As Fiona pointed out, there can be economic, health, and greenhouse gas mitigation benefits in the change to clean, sustainable, energy.
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The importance of peer-reviewed science literature

The popular media gives the impression that there is still argument over the reality of human induced climate change while there is practically 100% unanimity in the peer-reviewed literature of the climate scientists. Similarly some people try to tell us that wind turbines make people sick while there is no justification for this belief in the scientific literature.

 
From Loren D. Knopper and Christoper A. Ollson in 'Health Effects and Wind Turbines: A Review of the Literature'; published in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Health.
"Publication of scientific findings is the basis of scientific discourse, communication and debate. The peer review process is considered a fundamental tenet of quality control in scientific publishing. Once a research paper has been submitted to a journal for publication it is reviewed by external independent experts in the field. The experts review the validity, reliability and importance of the results and recommend that the manuscript be accepted, revised or rejected. This process, though not perfect, ensures that the methods employed and the findings of the research receive a high level of scrutiny, such that an independent researcher could repeat the experiment or calculation of results, prior to their publication. This process seeks to ensure that the published research is of a high standard of quality, accurate, can be reproduced and demonstrates academic / professional integrity."

Also see impact factor of science publications.






Factors other than sound that have been claimed to cause ill-health

Shadow flicker

Shadow flicker is familiar to anyone who has driven along a road lined with trees on a sunny day.

Shadow flicker from turbines can only fall on a house a kilometre or more from a turbine for a few minutes in any one day; and because the sun moves north or south with the seasons the house will probably be subject to flicker from that turbine for no more than a few days in each year.

The regular blocking and unblocking of the direct sun-light by the rotating turbine blades could well be annoying, but has not been shown to cause ill-health.

A rare form of epilepsy can be induced by a flickering light, but for it to pose a potential risk of seizures the frequency of the flashing must be greater than 3 Hz. Utility class wind turbines such as those in Australia have a frequency around 1 Hz.

The Australian Environment Protection and Heritage Council (EPHC) in their National Wind Farm Development Guidelines draft of July 2010 stated that:

"The main risk associated with shadow flicker is the potential to disturb residents in the immediate vicinity. Investigations undertaken when developing these Guidelines determined that the potential risk for epileptic seizures and distraction of drivers is negligible to people living, visiting or driving near a wind farm."

The UK Centre for Sustainable Energy published a document Common concerns about wind power which stated that "Due to the size and speed of modern commercial wind turbines, there is no risk of shadow flicker causing photo-epileptic seizures in vulnerable persons".

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Wind Turbine Syndrome

 
See also Pierpont-Laurie Syndrome

Symptoms claimed to be associated with wind turbines

It must be stressed that there is no scientific or medical evidence that wind turbines cause any illnesses; no medical body anywhere in the world supports Wind Turbine Syndrome. WTS is actually a form of epidemic hysteria.

Nina Pierpont, the paediatrician and PhD who coined the phrase 'wind turbine syndrome' (and wrote a book on it), listed the following symptoms when addressing the Hammond (New York) Wind Committee on July 5th 2010:
 

Letter published in Goulburn Post, 2012/10/17

"I feel I must put my position as a practising GP in the Bungendore community where a large number of wind turbines have been operating since 2009. I have not seen anyone with wind turbine syndrome and not even anyone who attributes any symptoms to wind turbine syndrome. There are some people who attribute their annoyance to the turbines, because they are there and sometimes because of the turbines noise as they hear it. The research throughout the world does not support wind turbine syndrome and nor does it (research) give credibility to the phenomenon of infrasound's ill effects: on this last matter there would be a range of credible data. I write this in an attempt to encourage some balance.

Dr Marjorie Cross MBBS, FRACGP"

I must express my appreciation to Dr Cross for writing this. (I have not had any contact with her.) Most doctors are reluctant to publicly state their opinions on this sort of matter, but it needs to be done if the truth is to be got out to the general public.

  1. Sleep disturbance, with a special kind of awakening in a state of high alarm. This applies to both adults and children. Severe sleep deprivation.
  2. Headaches. Exacerbations of migraines, brought on by either noise or by light flicker. This refers to the strobe-like effect in rooms when turbine blade shadows repetitively pass over a window. People without a history of migraine also got severe headaches from turbine exposure.
  3. Pressure and pain in ears and eyes. Tinnitus or ringing in the ears. Distortions of hearing. Buzzing inside the head.
  4. Dizziness, vertigo, unsteadiness, and nausea, essentially seasickness on land.
  5. Sensations of internal pulsation or movement, in the chest or abdomen, associated with panic-like episodes, in people who had no previous episodes of panic. These episodes occurred while awake or asleep, awakening the affected people from sleep.
  6. Problems with memory and concentration. Irritability and loss of energy and motivation. School and behaviour problems in children. Increased aggression in both adults and children.
It is notable that a number of these symptoms are also associated with threat perception and anxiety, and that 'wind turbine syndrome' most often occurs in those who have negative views, or fears, about wind turbines.

Elevated blood pressure has been claimed to be associated with wind turbine noise in Australia; this is measurable, but it is also strongly associated with anxiety.

Neither Pierpont nor anyone else has been able to say what it is about turbines that could be making people ill. Also, the dose-response relationship that you would expect, with the people having the most exposure being the most affected, is not found in "Wind turbine syndrome".

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Nina Pierpont's 'research' into the health effects of wind turbine noise

 
Waterloo Wind Farm
Swag under turbine
I have slept beneath wind turbines several times and never felt any ill-effects. My swag can be seen behind the car
In 2009 Pierpont published a case-study about health problems experienced by 10 families living between 300m and 1.5km of wind turbines; including sleep disturbance, headaches, tinnitus, dizziness and nausea. (It is notable that this research has not been published in any peer-reviewed scientific journal.)

The author's net page is at http://www.windturbinesyndrome.com/. The National Health Service of the UK produced a Net page that discussed Pierpont's research. Quoting from their page:

"This study provides no conclusive evidence that wind turbines have an effect on health or are causing the set of symptoms described here as 'wind turbine syndrome'. The study design was weak, the study was small and there was no comparison group."
and
"However, it is physically and biologically plausible that low frequency noise generated by wind turbines can affect people, and the author puts forward several possible theories regarding this."

Valid questions have been raised about the claim that Pierpont's book was properly peer-reviewed and there are valid criticisms of her methodology; in particular Pierpont's subjects were few (38 people from ten families), apparently selected because they claimed to have health problems that they ascribed to wind turbines, and there was no control group. This is not to say that she is necessarily wrong.

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Pierpont: Wind Turbine Syndrome and the Brain

 
Low cloud streaming through turbines
Cloud streamers
Snowtown Wind Farm, SA
Nina Pierpont released this pdf document on 2010/11/15. It is from the 'First International Symposium on the Global Wind Industry and Adverse Health Effects: Loss of Social Justice?'.

This document discusses a mechanism that could explain how sub-audible infrasound could cause responses in the brain. Pierpont seems to believe this sufficient to prove her case that wind turbines are making people ill (in regard to this document, by causing tinnitus), but it falls far short of achieving that.

There are two points about Pierpont's latest paper that are particularly suspect:

  1. On page 2 Pierpont states:
    "58% of the adults and older teens in my sample of affected families had tinnitus. In the general population, it's 4%."
    Axelsson, A and Ringdahl, A published an paper in the British Journal of Audiology, Feb. 1989.
    "Three thousand six hundred randomly selected adults in the city of Gothenburg (425,000 inhabitants) stratified by age and gender, were questioned by mail concerning tinnitus. We received 66% useful answers, 14.2% suffered from tinnitus 'often' or 'always'."
    (The Axelsson and Ringdahl article had 255 citations according to Google scholar, 2010/11/26.) Wikipedia states that "tinnitus is common". Did Pierpont understate the prevalence of tinnitus to artificially strengthen her case?

  2. Pierpont uses the name 'The New England Journal of Medicine' (in large print) and their logo (page 4), apparently to lend credibility to her document. The quote from NEJM apparently regards structural changes in the brain relating to tinnitus and in no way confirms Pierpont's thesis that wind turbines cause tinnitus.
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The case against turbines is unconvincing and/or incomplete

Anecdotes relating wind turbines to ill-health are common, but anecdotal evidence is notoriously unreliable (at least partly because humans are highly susceptible to self-deception) and unacceptable to research scientists.

What is needed to make a convincing case linking wind turbines to sickness in humans or animals?
FactorWhat is available? What is lacking?
Scientific publications Papers discussing links between wind turbine noise and human annoyance and discomfort Papers linking turbines and human or animal sickness
Mechanism Suggestions that infrasound or 'special audible characteristics' (SACs) are involved. Some evidence that the human ear could be hypersensitive to infrasound under some conditions. * There are papers (Pedersen and others) suggesting that wind turbine sound can cause annoyance and this can lead on to psychogenic illness. No-one seems to have provided a convincing direct link between wind turbines and human or animal sickness. There seem to be no convincing explanations of how the noise, or any other emanations, from turbines affect the body to cause illness.
Dose-response relationship The recorded cases show no correlation between dose, or exposure, and severity of symptoms. If turbines caused illness we would expect that ill-effects would be largely proportional to exposure. We do not see this.
Laboratory tests (infrasound, SACs) Very little with relevance to wind turbines Infrasound and audible sounds of all the frequencies likely to be involved can be reproduced in the laboratory; but no-one seems to have done convincing laboratory tests. Tests on humans and animals could be done in laboratories, but seem not to have been done.
Field tests There are anecdotal accounts of people being sick when near turbines, recovering when away, and becoming sick again when back near the turbines. There are anecdotal accounts of domestic animals being adversely affected. Convincing studies have not been done. Lambing rates in sheep and weight-gain rates in a variety of domestic animals could be measured and compared near and away from turbines; no scientific studies have been done on domestic animals so far as I know.
Repeatability (In general, a case is not made in science until initial research has been confirmed by a second, independent, group of researchers.)
No laboratory tests or convincing field studies seem to have been carried out once, let alone repeated by independent researchers.
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Altered 2012/04/26

Research into wind turbines and health

 

Impact factor of science publications

Scientists rank peer-reviewed science publications by their 'impact factor'. The impact factor of a particular journal is a measure of how many papers in other science journals reference papers in that journal. The journals Science and Nature have the highest impact factors because papers published in those are referenced by authors of many other published papers.

It seems that the very few articles that have been published in science journals suggesting wind farms have adverse health effects are in journals having low impact factors.

See Wikipedia on impact factors, and Science Gateway, which lists high impact journals.

 

Research into human gullibility?

If the truth is that wind turbines do not cause illness then some very interesting research could be done into the psychology of how humans can falsely convince themselves that something has caused them to be ill.

The role played by people like Nina Pierpont and Sarah Laurie in causing anxiety and illness would surely also be fertile ground for psychological study.

 

Research into fraud?

While some people who live near wind farms are suffering serious symptoms (although the cause may be anxiety or fear rather than the turbines), as mentioned under 'people driven from their homes' there is the possibility that some people are using alleged health or noise problems to fraudulently claim compensation from wind power companies. Perhaps this would warrent research, or even police investigation?
It is notable that little primary research on the health effects of wind turbines has been published in peer-reviewed scientific journals, let alone journals with a high impact factor (see the box on the right). Research carried out before the year 1995 is of little relevance because wind turbines were significantly smaller then, and the towers on which they were built were shorter.

There was a time when I believed that there was a real need for research into possible direct adverse health effects from wind turbines. The more I have looked into it and thought about it the more unreasonable it has seemed to me that there could be any such effect and the less credible the 'evidence' of any such effect seems to be. (All the main components of a wind turbine are in our cars, and no-one claims our cars are making us sick.) Without there being credible evidence for some real effect few responsible researchers would see this as a field of research that they would want to get involved in.

Professor Simon Chapman, School of Public Health and Teresa Simonetti, Sydney University Medical School, compiled an extensive list of the main conclusions reached in 17 reviews of the research literature on wind farms and health. The current link is http://tinyurl.com/78bglh4, but this is temporary. Please inform me if the link no longer works.

However, there are questions about wind turbines and health or annoyance that are difficult for the general public to find unbiased answers for; for example:

  • If a wind turbine is going to be built x metres from my home, how often am I likely to hear it?
  • Is it likely to be loud enough to be annoying or keep me awake at night?
  • Is noise from wind turbines more annoying than other noises of similar intensities?
  • Do wind turbines harm some people's health by any mechanisms beyond noise, annoyance, anxiety or fear?
Anybody who is likely to have a turbine built close to his or her house or farm has a right to be able to find authoritative and unbiased answers to these questions.

While there seems very little prospect of research finding any causal link between wind turbines and sickness, many people have been primed to believe that such a link does exist – due to extensive coverage in the popular media and the work of several people who either honestly believe that such health effects exist, or find alleged health effects to be a way of discrediting sustainable energy and thus supporting the fossil fuel industry.

Thorough primary scientific research (not simply studies of exiting research) into human and animal heath and annoyance due to sound and infrasound from wind turbines could be carried out, and it should be done on behalf of government, the wind industry, and the general public so that the research can be seen to be unbiased. A single two or three megawatt wind turbine costs around four million dollars to erect and connect into the power grid. There are at present about a thousand such turbines in Australia. Several hundred thousand dollars spent on independent quality research could well be justified.

What research should and could be done?

 
Altered 2015/04/28
The following is a layman's view.

The research would have to be multidisciplinary. It would require researchers with experience in acoustics (including infrasound), psychology, animal health, and human physical health (particularly hearing) at least. The aspects that could be researched might include:

  • Research into the health of animals that graze near wind turbines. (Things like breeding rates and growth rates can be readily measured. If turbines make humans ill we should expect similar illness in domestic animals.)
  • Examination of the existing primary research on wind turbines and health published in respectable peer-reviewed journals that has already been done.
  • Laboratory research involving subjecting people to reproduced wind turbine sound and infrasound, perhaps mixed with other sounds, and measuring (where possible) and recording responses.
  • Large surveys examining the dose-response relationship between wind turbines and perceived health impacts.
  • A survey of those people who live near wind turbines, their health problems, and aiming to establish whether those problems are related to the turbines, to perceptions about the turbines or totally unrelated to the turbines.
  • Research into differences in the rate of complaints of illness in areas where the claims of ill-health connected with wind turbines has been highly publicised compared with areas where there has been little such publicity. (For example, my impression is that there have been few complaints of 'turbine illness' in WA and little publicity of it. Sarah Laurie has not done speaking tours of WA?)
  • A psychological study of the perceived health problems and their causes (are the health concerns psychosomatic?).
  • Research into the relationship between sleep problems and wind turbine noise.
  • A study of the relationship between people's perceptions of wind turbines, whether favorable or not, and their perceived health problems. A related point would be the link between receiving a benifit from turbines and perceived health problems.
  • A survey of the number of people who have moved away from wind turbines for health or other reasons, and research or investigation into their reasons and motives. (Difficult to do objectively.)
  • Research into any possible mechanisms by which wind turbines might cause ill-health in animals and humans (sound and infrasound are most often cited).
  • Research into land value trends in relation to wind farms.
  • Research into fraudulent claims of illness or financial hardship with the aim of receiving financial gain.
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Research on farm animals

The relationship between human health and suggested causal agents such as wind turbines, power transmission lines, mobile telephone transmissions, etc. is very difficult to prove or disprove by research. Perhaps more objective research would be possible on farm animals?

 
Sheep grazing peacefully beneath operating turbines
Sheep grazing
Clements Gap Wind Farm
The turbines were operating. Some of the sheep were right against the nearby tower just before the photo was taken. They seemed to treat the turbines as they would trees: a source of shade.
If wind turbines are making people sick then they are very likely making farm animals sick too. (Also see Do turbines frighten stock?) Sheep, cattle, pigs, dogs and other farm animals are probably less likely to develop psychosomatic problems associated with wind turbines than people, and it is easier to carry out objective and ethical research on farm animals than on people. If researchers can show that farm animals tend more often to be sick when near wind turbines it would be strong evidence that there were real effects.

Lambing rates, blood pressure monitoring, weight gain rates, milk production

Claims have been made that wind turbines have caused sheep to fail to look after their lambs (near Waubra wind farm in Victoria). This could be tested by a researcher.

If wind turbines cause higher blood pressure in humans then they will probably also do so in farm animals. Animals' blood pressure could be measured; it would be possible to place monitors on animals and record blood pressure when they are close to, and distant from, wind turbines.

A good indicator of the health of animals raised for meat production is the rate at which they gain weight. This could be measured near to, and remote from, wind turbines.

Dairy cattle do not 'let their milk down' fully when they are anxious; milk production rates could be correlated to various levels of sound from turbines, and/or depending on whether the cows had grazed near, or further from, turbines.
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Updated 2013/03/23

Recent research

I intend to add notes here about recent research relevant to wind turbines and health as I hear of it.

The influence of negative oriented personality traits on the effects of wind turbine noise

By Jennifer Taylora, Carol Eastwick, Robin Wilson, Claire Lawrence, University of Nottingham, UK, March 2013.

Abstract

Concern about invisible environmental agents from new technologies, such as radiation, radio-waves, and odours, have been shown to act as a trigger for reports of ill health. However, recently, it has been suggested that wind turbines – an archetypal green technology, are a new culprit in explanations of medically unexplained non-specific symptoms (NSS): the so-called Wind Turbine Syndrome (Pierpont, 2009).

The current study assesses the effect of negative orientated personality (NOP) traits (Neuroticism, Negative Affectivity and Frustration Intolerance) on the relationship between both actual and perceived noise on NSS. All households near ten small and micro wind turbines in two UK cities completed measures of perceived turbine noise, Neuroticism, Negative Affectivity, Frustration Intolerance, attitude to wind turbines, and NSS (response N = 138). Actual turbine noise level for each household was also calculated.

There was no evidence for the effect of calculated actual noise on NSS. The relationship between perceived noise and NSS was only found for individuals high in NOP traits the key role of individual differences in the link between perceived (but not actual) environmental characteristics and symptom reporting.

This is the first study to show this effect in relation to a so called 'green technology'.



History of health and noise complaints
Spatio-temporal differences in the history of health and noise complaints about Australian wind farms: evidence for the psychogenic, "communicated disease" hypothesis.

By Chapman, Simon; St.Gerge, Alexis; Waller, Karen; and Cakic, Vince; March 2013.

The paper can be accessed via the Sydney eScholarship Repository.

Chapman et. al. studied the history of wind farm construction and complaints about ill-health from wind turbines in Australia. They concluded that "complaints are consistent with psychogenic hypotheses that health problems arising are "communicated diseases" with nocebo effects likely to play an important role in the aetiology of complaints."



Research into infrasound perception

Published in Health Psychology; "Can Expectations Produce Symptoms From Infrasound Associated With Wind Turbines?"; Fiona Crichton, George Dodd, Gian Schmid, Greg Gamble, and Keith J. Petrie; March 2013

(I will try to condense the results of this research into a few words that lay people can understand; People who are under the impression that they will become ill if exposed to infrasound, and are then told that they are being exposed to infrasound, are likely to experience adverse symptoms.)

Abstract

Objective:
The development of new wind farms in many parts of the world has been thwarted by public concern that subaudible sound (infrasound) generated by wind turbines causes adverse health effects. Although the scientific evidence does not support a direct pathophysiological link between infrasound and health complaints, there is a body of lay information suggesting a link between infrasound exposure and health effects. This study tested the potential for such information to create symptom expectations, thereby providing a possible pathway for symptom reporting.
 
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Method:
A sham-controlled double-blind provocation study, in which participants were exposed to 10 min of infrasound and 10 min of sham infrasound, was conducted. Fifty-four participants were randomized to high- or low-expectancy groups and presented audiovisual information, integrating material from the Internet, designed to invoke either high or low expectations that exposure to infrasound causes specified symptoms.
Results:
High expectancy participants reported significant increases, from preexposure assessment, in the number and intensity of symptoms experienced during exposure to both infrasound and sham infrasound. There wereno symptomatic changes in the low-expectancy group.
Conclusions:
Healthy volunteers, when given information about the expected physiological effect of infrasound, reported symptoms that aligned with that information, during exposure to both infrasound and sham infrasound. Symptom expectations were created by viewing information readily available on the Internet, indicating the potential for symptom expectations to be created outside of the laboratory, in real world settings. Results suggest psychological expectations could explain the link between wind turbine exposure and health complaints.


Research by Professor Gary Wittert; 2011/07/25

This research has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal, but was mentioned on ABC TV's Four Corners of 2011/07/25. Professor Wittert, who is head of the School of Medicine at Adelaide University, looked at the medical prescriptions dispensed to people living within ten kilometres of several wind farms and compared this with a control group. He found that "There is no hint of any effect on a population basis for an increased use of sleeping pills or blood pressure or cardiovascular medications whatsoever" in the people living close to wind farms.

This suggests that wind turbines have no effect on health at all, not even a psychosomatic effect (except perhaps in numbers of people so small as to be statistically insignificant). Interestingly it would also suggest that the efforts of organisations like The Waubra Foundation and Sarah Laurie, with their foretelling of a health catastrophe brought about by wind turbines, are having no adverse effect on health (or again, only in a few people).

The study involved ten to twelve thousand people and four wind farms, Waubra and Yambuk in Victoria and Hallett Hill and Snowtown in SA.

Clinical psychologist Dr Sarah Edelman commented on Prof. Wittert's research results, and anxiety related symptoms, elswhere on this page.

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This section added 2014/02/24

The legal record. What have the courts decided?


 
Court cases
Graphic credit Mike Barnard
Mike Barnard published a study into all the court cases he could find in the English-speaking world to see what the various courts concluded on cases involving wind farms and noise or health. Rather than rewriting it I will quote Mike:
"Since 1998 there have been 45 hearings held under rules of legal evidence in five countries and four types of courts regarding wind energy, noise and health. Forty-four assessed the evidence and found no potential for harm to human health, and the sole outlier is an instructive but unique case."

"To find the decisions, I searched legal databases of environmental, utility, civil and higher courts in each of Canada, New Zealand, the USA, the United Kingdom and Australia; in the USA this required state-by-state searches. I also searched anti-wind campaign sites for the Waubra Foundation and the US National Wind Watch for cases they cited. While well over 150 potential decisions were found and assessed and 45 found that pertained to noise and health, this does not mean that every single case has been identified."
Those who would like further information should read Mike's article.
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This section added 2012/07/18

Turbines and animal health


 
Young cattle grazing peacefully beneath wind turbines
cattle and turbine
Toora Wind Farm
It has been claimed that wind turbines make animals sick. Indeed, it would be very strange if turbines made people sick, but did no harm to animals.

Oddly, while it is claimed that only a minority of people are adversely affected by wind turbines this claim of selectivity seems not to be used in the animal case.

I think these photographs shows that stock become accustomed to wind turbines and behave quite normally in their near vicinity. (I have also seen kangaroos grazing quietly near turbines.)

Whether there is a period during which animals get used to the turbines I don't know.

Having been a dairy farmer for eight years, and having had sheep grazing on my property at Clare for the last 15 years, my own feeling is that neither cattle nor sheep would be much concerned by wind turbines.

 
Sheep sheltering in the shade of a working turbine
Sheep sheltering
Clements Gap Wind Farm
Low lambing rates at Waubra had been attributed to wind turbines (Aug. 2010). When the sheep owner called a vet, the vet said that low lambing rates had been a problem in much of the area recently, whether or not turbines were nearby.

I discussed this with a farmer who has a stud sheep business as well as turbines on his property near the Clements Gap Wind Farm; he told me that the sheep like the turbines, resting in their shade in summer, and that he had no problem with falling lambing rates since the turbines were built.

I have often seen sheep sheltering in the shade cast by wind turbine towers, as in the photo at the right.

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Nichols Poultry have their own 225kW wind turbine, one of the biggest in Australia in private hands, on their free-range poultry farm in Tasmania. Nichols have a Net site on which they provide information about their operation. Would Nichols do this if wind turbines harmed animals?

Also see health research on farm animals.






The NHMRC report of 2010

 
Turbine blades
Turbine blades
Tubine blades in storage, operating turbines in the background: Brown Hill Range Wind Farm
The National Health and Medical Research Council released a report on Wind Turbines and Health in July 2010. The report states that "there is no published scientific evidence to support adverse effects of wind turbines on health."

The NHMRC report references very little recent primary research into human and animal health published in respectable science journals; the research must be recent because large turbines (>1MW) have only been in common use since the early years of this century. (There has been very little recent primary research.) The NHMRC report is, itself, not peer-reviewed science.

The NHMRC report mentioned the nocebo effect...

"Noise can be defined as any undesirable or unwanted sound. The perception of the noise is also influenced by the attitude of the hearer towards the sound source. This is sometimes called the nocebo effect, which is the opposite of the better known placebo effect. If people have been preconditioned to hold negative opinions about a noise source, they are more likely to be affected by it (AusWEA, 2004)."
From a credibility point of view the NHMRC report suffers in several areas: it was apparently not peer-reviewed; its author is not stated; and it seems to have ignored the fact that there has been little recent primary research into the health effects of wind turbines.





 
Altered 2014/02/02

Mechanism: how could turbines make people ill?

The weakest point in the argument that wind turbines make people ill, after the lack of supporting science, is the lack of a mechanism; there just doesn't seem to be anything particular about wind turbines that could make people ill.

 

Diabolical Wind Turbine Rays

A not very serious suggestion of how wind turbines might make people sick
Wind turbines are machines that have mechanical, electrical and aerodynamic parts and functions. They are incapable of producing any rays or emanations that are not produced by many other machines. Diesel-electric locomotives are similar large electro-mechanical machines, even ordinary cars have all the main components of a wind turbine.

If turbines could possibly make anybody ill the main credible cause would seem to be the sounds that turbines make, but sounds, either audible or infrasound, have not been shown to be harmful unless they are far louder than those produced by wind turbines. Road vehicles produce similar sounds and at higher intensities.

The sounds from turbines have been said to have 'special audible characteristics' (SACs) that cause health problems. How the SACs cause their harm has not been explained. A report commissioned by the Canadian and American wind industry associations found that low frequency and very low-frequency infrasound produced by wind turbines are the same as those produced by vehicular traffic and home appliances.

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Edited 2015/05/20

What can harm you from a distance?

Those who would have us believe that wind turbines damage people's health (beyond by making annoying noises) would have us believe that there is something harmful coming from turbines that we cannot detect with our senses. What is there known to science that could fit this requirement? What causes harm from a distance?
  • Ionising radiation such as alpha particles, beta particles, ultra-violet, X-rays and gamma rays;
  • Non-ionising radiation, such as microwaves and radio waves when at very high intensities (due to their heating effect);
  • Extremes of temperature;
  • Violent physical impacts such as in vehicle accidents and sporting injuries;
  • Toxins such as heavy metals, asbestos (when inhaled), toxic gasses and chemicals; silicate dust, hay dust or smoke when inhaled in large quantities or over a long period (smoke and dust from coal burning kills millions of people each year);
  • Micro-organisms: some bacteria, protozoans, fungi, etc.
  • Very loud noise can cause harm and lower levels of noise can cause annoyance and difficulty in sleeping. Wind turbines do cause some noise, but at lower levels than many other common sources such as road traffic, speech and music.
(A very few studies have suggested that, under certain circumstances, infrasound can cause some discomfort without being knowingly 'heard'. I have not come across any such studies relating to wind turbines and published in respectable journals.)

To believe that wind turbines can cause illness, when they do not produce any of these things, requires a great leap of faith; or should that be enormous gullibility?




 
Updated 2012/04/28

Health effects relating to noise

 

Turbine noise and sleep disturbance

The British Medical Journal, a highly respected journal with an impact factor of over 13, published a paper by Christopher Hanning in March 2012 (BMJ 2012;344:e1527). Hanning discused turbine noise, sleep disturbance, and consequent health effects.

Unfortunately the full article is available on subscription only.

The Australian Environment Protection and Heritage Council (EPHC) in their National Wind Farm Development Guidelines draft of July 2010 stated that:
"Excessive noise may cause annoyance, disturbance of activities such as watching TV, or sleep disturbance when received at a noise-sensitive location such as a dwelling. At higher levels, environmental noise has been linked to long term health issues such as raised blood pressure and cardiovascular disease."
The EPHC did not provide specific noise limits in their Guidelines "because they are the responsibility of state and territory authorities". The EPHC said that "noise and shadow flicker results (from monitoring) should be communicated to relevant stakeholders". I suggest that anyone who has good reason to believe that one or more turbines might be built near their home is a 'relevant stakeholder', and should have a right to be able to read relevant monitoring results from similar sites.

An expert panel review of Wind Turbine Sound and Health Effects conducted for the American Wind Energy Association and the Canadian Wind Energy Association is available from the American Wind Energy Association;

"Together AWEA and CanWEA proposed to a number of independent groups that they examine the scientific validity of recent reports on the adverse health effects of wind turbine proximity. Such reports have raised public concern about wind turbine exposure. In the absence of declared commitment to such an effort from independent groups, the wind industry decided to be proactive and address the issue itself."
The executive summary of this paper concluded:
  • There is no evidence that the audible or sub-audible sounds emitted by wind turbines have any direct adverse physiological effects.
  • The ground-borne vibrations from wind turbines are too weak to be detected by, or to affect, humans.
  • The sounds emitted by wind turbines are not unique. There is no reason to believe, based on the levels and frequencies of the sounds and the panel's experience with sound exposures in occupational settings, that the sounds from wind turbines could plausibly have direct adverse health consequences.
These conclusions must be considered against the first paragraph above; excessive noise can be deleterious to health; how much noise is excessive? Annoyance should also be carefully considered; do some people find turbine noise so annoying that they have to move away? If so, then shouldn't they be compensated? More research into wind turbines and health is needed.

(Also see Noise and wind turbines.)
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Updated 2013/02/03

Infrasound – in relation to health

Infrasound is also discussed in my page on wind turbines and noise.

Infrasound is sound of such a low frequency as to be inaudible to humans; although at high volumes it can be felt. Wikipedia defines it as "sound that is lower in frequency than 20Hz". A fuller definition is given in the glossary.

 

Report from SA EPA

The South Australian Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) produced a report titled "Infrasound levels near windfarms and in other environments" in January 2013. Extracts from the Executive Summary:
  • "Infrasound levels at houses adjacent to wind farms ... are no higher than those at houses located a considerable distance from wind farms."
  • "... there did not appear to be any noticeable contribution from the wind farm to the G-weighted infrasound level ..."

German study: wind farm infrasound no health threat

An article on the European Wind Energy Association Blog, dated 2012/05/24 discusses a new study by the Bavarian Environment Agency in Germany. It also mentions other studies that show the same thing.
The Wikipedia article on infrasound also gave many natural sources: including severe weather, surf and waterfalls; man-made infrasound sources can include machinery including "older designs of down tower wind turbines" (turbines with the tower up-wind from the blades). Low speed fans, such as ceiling fans, produce infrasound. In an article on the Michgan Land Use Institute Net site Dr Kai Ming Li said "In a Finnish survey, infrasound levels exceeding 120dB were found in cars and railway engines. The usual range in vehicles with closed windows was 90 to 110 dB." Dr Li also said that washing machines on the spin cycle produce quite high levels (around 80dB) of infrasound. I have noticed that an unpleasant level of infrasound can be produced by the resonance that can be set up inside a moving car with one or more window (especially rear window) partly open.

I have been unable to find any research that has been published in respected peer-reviewed scientific journals that link infrasound from wind turbines to health problems.

An Australian Senate Committee, looking into alleged health effects from wind turbines, concluded the following in November 2012:

"The committee concludes that, while it is possible that the human body may detect infrasound in several ways, there is no evidence to suggest that inaudible infrasound (either from wind turbines or other sources) is creating health problems. In contrast, there is an established literature confirming the existence of psychogenic, or nocebo, effects in general, and at least one study suggesting they may be responsible for symptoms in some wind turbine cases."

One reference, "Infrasound Toxicological Summary November 2001, Infrasound, Brief Review of Toxicological Literature" (see Links), cited many studies into infrasound and health; most suggested that there were no ill-effects at levels below about 110dB, higher than levels detected from wind turbines. This document did not specifically mention wind turbines.

The consultancy Sonus produced a report on wind farm "Environmental Noise" for the Australian Clean Energy Council dated November 2010. In regard to infrasound it stated:

"Whilst the aerodynamic noise from a rotating turbine blade produces energy in the infrasound range, measurements of infrasound noise emissions from modern upwind turbines indicates that at distances of 200 metres, infrasound is in the order of 25 dB below the recognised perception threshold of 85 dB(G) and other similar recognised perception thresholds (Hayes Mckenzie Partnership Ltd, 2006). A 25 dB difference is significant and represents at least a 100 fold difference in energy content. Infrasound also reduces in level when moving away from the source, and separation distances between wind farms and dwellings are generally well in excess of 200m. "

While there seems to be no convincing evidence that low levels of infrasound can cause illness, if they are strong enough to be audible they may cause annoyance and anxiety. However, there seems to be no convincing evidence that infrasound from wind turbines is problematic.

The UK Centre for Sustainable Energy published a document Common concerns about wind power that includes a discussion of infrasound in this context.

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Updated 2011/11/28

How close should turbines be to houses?

The expert panel review discussed above (from the American and Canadian wind energy associations) did not make definite conclusions about how far turbines should be built from houses, but did say that setbacks of as much as a mile (approx. 1.6km) were not warranted.

 
Wind turbines and houses in the tulip fields of North Holland
Turbine and house
Photo credit Normann Szkop
Note how close the turbine is to the house
The original photograph can be seen on Flickr
 
Canal, turbines and houses
Photo credit Normann Szkop
Four houses and two turbines close together
The original photo can be seen on Flickr
I believe that most turbines of the Mid-North South Australian wind farms are at least 1km from occupied homes. In Europe they are often much closer, as can be seen in the photos on the right.

The minimum distance that a wind turbine should be from an occupied house is partly a matter of opinion and, since the sound level varies depending on topography and the direction of the wind, is very difficult to place a definite figure on.

In Denmark, the country with the most wind power per capita, the minimum distance between a wind turbine and a house must be four times the total height of the turbine (including blades). A typical maximum height is around 125m (in 2012), so under this rule turbines would not be allowed closer than 500m to a house.

The present (early 2012, Liberal) government of Victoria does not allow turbines to be built within two kilometres of a house not financially connected with any wind farm. The wind industry has stated, quite credibly, that the 13 square kilometre exclusion zones around all houses (16 times that required in Denmark) will effectively put a stop to wind power development in that state. To make a wind farm viable the turbines have to be reasonably close together, if there must be large exclusion zones around any houses then the small and isolated bits of land remaining available for turbine construction may well not be enough to make a wind farm a workable proposition.

There has even been a call for not allowing wind turbines within three kilometres from homes, creating 28 square kilometre exclusion zones; this would probably make wind farms unviable anywhere except the largely uninhabited pastoral districts, the deserts, and off-shore. Wind farms can generally not profitably be built in the Outback because of the lack of power transmission lines and the cost of building them off-shore is about twice that of building on-shore.

It is understandable that people, who do not have direct monetary gain from wind turbines, object to having to occasionally hear them. However the urgent need to move away from fossil-fuelled power generation toward sustainable power generation, so minimising climate change, seems to me to quite justify some annoyance to a small proportion of the population.

Distance and physics

The inverse square law of physics tells us that sound (and anything else that radiates out from a descreet source) drops off rapidly with distance. This being so, it is very difficult to believe many of the claims made about health effects from turbines at distance. Sound also attenuates at about 5dBA per kilometre due to absorption of the energy by the atmosphere. (See also notes on the dose - response relationship.)

For example, the hamlet of Waterloo is 3.5km from the turbines of the Waterloo Wind Farm. I slept beneath Waterloo turbines on two nights (without any health effects at all, I had a good night's sleep, I measured a sound level of 55dB from the turbines). My distance from the tubines was about 80m. Even neglecting attenuation, the inverse square law tells us that anything radiating from a turbine would be 1900 times as intense at the distance I was compared to in Waterloo. (3500 / 80 = 43.75, 43.752 = 1914)

Yet we are told that people have been driven from their homes in Waterloo by noise and/or health problems!

On both nights I slept at Waterloo Wind Farm I visited Waterloo and listened for turbine noise both in the evening and again in the morning. Only on the first morning did I suspect that I might have been able to hear the turbines; I couldn't be sure. There was a moderate breeze on the ridge where the turbines were, but only a light air in Waterloo; ideal conditions for hearing them.

Study of setbacks internationally

A study of Wind Turbine Setbacks from Residences for the Minnesota Department of Commerce by Katheryn M. B. Haugen showed that in most parts of the world mandated setbacks between wind turbines and homes is 500m or 1km. A figure in this study (Figure 2, page 26) showed no jurisdiction that mandated a setback as great as the 2kms mandated by several Australian State governments. (Scotland mandates a distance of 2km from towns.)
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Anecdotal evidence

Anecdotal (relating to stories told) evidence is notoriously unreliable. If we simply accepted anecdotal evidence we would accept that many people have been abducted by aliens, many others are witches, etc. etc. However, with the lack of scientifically acceptable evidence (that published in respected peer-reviewed journals), we seem to have little choice but to look at the anecdotal evidence (see The need for primary research into turbines and health).

There seems no doubt that many people believe they have been made ill by wind turbines. There are claims that people have moved away from some wind farms (Cape Bridgewater, Waubra, Toora) because of illness.

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Altered 2011/07/03

Seismic waves from wind turbines

It has been suggested that some of the vibrations that cause ill-health might be transmitted to people from the turbines through the earth.

 

Confusion with infrasound

This report has been quoted as if the vibrations studied by the VIRGO group were infrasound – carried by the air – rather than seismic – carried by the soil and rock. (Even in the Senate report on Rural Wind Farms, see section 2.11.) Seismometers are far more sensitive to vibrations transmitted through the ground than are humans.

As evidence for this interpretation, note the section "direct surface waves and body waves refracted at a deep ({approx}800 m) interface between the Plio-Pleistocenic marine, fluvial, and lacustrine sediments and the Miocene carbonate basement". Unmistakably seismic rather than air-born acoustics.

A document titled "Seismic Noise by Wind Farms: A Case Study from the VIRGO Gravitational Wave Observatory, Italy" (written by Gilberto Saccorotti, David Piccinini, Lena Cauchie and Irene Fiori) states that

"Among the different spectral peaks thus discriminated, the one at frequency 1.7 Hz has associated the greatest power, and under particular conditions it can be observed at distances as large as 11 km from the wind park."
(The abstract of this paper can be accessed at Geosienceworld.)

Seismometers are exquisitely sensitive instruments; they respond to earthquakes on the other side of the earth. If the strongest vibrations from wind turbines are, at best, detectable at a distance of 11km then they must be quite undetectable by human senses at distances of hundreds of metres or more from the turbines.

The above paper further stated that studies had detected seismic waves from wind turbines that were above background levels to distances up to 18km. Seismic background is the vibration of the earth that is happening all the time. The earth is constantly quivering at levels that are quite unnoticeable by humans, but detectable by seismometers.

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Wind turbine close-up
Head of a wind turbine at Snowtown, SA


 
This section written 2011/07/24

Doctors for the Environment Australia


 

About Doctors for the Environment Australia

Quoting from their submission to the Senate inquiry...
"Doctors for the Environment Australia is a voluntary organisation of medical doctors in all Australian states and territories. We work to address the diseases – local, national and global – caused by damage to the earth's environment."

DEA Scientific Committee members

In alphabetical order...
Prof. Stephen Boyden AM; Prof. Peter Doherty AC; Prof. Bob Douglas AO; Prof. Michael Kidd AM; Prof. Stephen Leeder AO; Prof. Ian Lowe AO; Prof Robyn McDermott; Prof. Tony McMichael; Prof. Peter Newman; Prof. Emeritus Sir Gustav Nossal AC; Prof. Hugh Possingham; Prof. Lawrie Powell AC; Prof. Fiona Stanley AC; Dr Norman Swan; Professor David Yencken AO.
Sir Gustav Nossal's qualifications and awards are too numerous to mention here, look at Wikipedia.

Fiona Stanley is a professor at the School of Paediatrics and Child Health at University of Western Australia, and the UNICEF Australian Ambassador for Early Childhood Development; she was Australian of the year, 2003.

Dr Norman Swan is the well known health presenter on the ABC radio.

Doctors for the Environment Australia (DEA) have pointed out that the health effects of alternatives to wind power are far worse than any from wind turbines.

The stance taken by DEA, and the professional standing of the members of the DEA Scientific Committee members (see the box on the right), should be compared to the stance taken by the Waubra Foundation and lack of any research standing of Sarah Laurie.

DEA made a submission (No. 829) to the Senate inquiry into wind power (2011) which included this summary:

  • "Fossil fuels are responsible for a significant disease burden in our community
  • Fossil fuels contribute to climate change, which is a major health threat
  • Wind power and other renewable energies have the potential to reduce threats to health through reduction in air pollution and mitigation of climate change
  • A number of allegations have been made in relation to adverse health effects of living near wind turbines which do not appear to be supported by scientific evidence
  • Noise is the predominant concern of people living near turbines, leading to annoyance in a small proportion of exposed people, particularly in association with negative visual impacts or lack of perceived personal benefit. This may have implications for the health and well-being of these individuals.
  • However there is no convincing evidence in the scientific literature of direct physiological effects occurring at sound levels commonly associated with modern wind turbines
  • There is a need to actively engage people who may be living near wind farms in their development at an early stage, provide accurate health advice, and track and manage complaints appropriately."
Their submission also included the following paragraphs:
Recently the leading medical journal, the Lancet, described the health impacts of climate change as "the biggest global health threat of the 21st century". According to the World Health Organization, climate change is one of the greatest threats to public health and it will affect, in profoundly adverse ways, some of the most fundamental pre-requisites for good health: clean air and water, sufficient food, adequate shelter and freedom from disease.

Extreme weather events such as those which have recently devastated parts of Australia – heatwaves, floods and fires- are predicted to become more frequent and severe. We can expect more threats to food and water security, sea level rises, changes in vector-borne, food and water borne disease, exacerbation of air pollution, increases in aeroallergens, mental health and refugee health impacts. The elderly, the very young, the chronically ill and disadvantaged are likely to suffer most with climate change.

DEA has explored the current literature [regarding the health impacts of living close to wind farms] in order to reach a conclusion as to whether there is evidence to support health concerns. DEA notes that a number of reviews have recently been conducted including the National Health and Medical Research Council in Australia (NHMRC 2010), the Chief Medical Officer of Health in Ontario (CMOH 2010) and the Chatham-Kent Public Health Unit (CKPHU 2008). These 5 major reviews have all come to the conclusion that evidence does not support any direct causal link between wind turbine noise and pathological effects in humans.

DEA finished their submission to the Senate inquiry with:
On the available evidence, DEA considers that the risks of continuing reliance on fossil fuels for the health of Australians and other people on the planet are considerably greater than those posed by any adverse health effects of wind power development and implementation. Nevertheless, it should be acknowledged that some noise and sound aspects of wind turbines can cause annoyance in a small proportion of sensitive people, and that these should be minimised where ever possible in planning and design. Community engagement and clear information about sound issues are needed from the beginning of the development process.
Interested readers should access the whole submission from DEA at the Senate inquiry Net site referred to near the top of this section.
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Updated 2012/01/24

Climate and Health Alliance

The Climate and Health Alliance "is an alliance of stakeholders in the health sector who wish to see the threat of climate change addressed through prompt policy action".

The CAHA released a Position Statement on Health and wind turbines on 2012/01/24. In part the CAHA said:

"To date, there is no credible peer reviewed scientific evidence that demonstrates a direct causal link between wind turbines and adverse health impacts in people living in proximity to them. There is no evidence for any adverse health effects from wind turbine shadow flicker or electromagnetic frequency. There is no evidence in the peer reviewed published scientific literature that suggests that there are any adverse health effects from 'infrasound' (a component of low frequency sound) at the low levels that may be emitted by wind turbines.

There is some evidence to suggest that audible noise from wind turbines at elevated sound pressure levels may be associated with disturbed sleep and negative emotions. Annoyance levels may be expressed more about wind turbines than for comparable industrial noise, in particular when people hold pre-existing negative attitudes towards turbines. Annoyance may also be related to visual cues.

Fear and anxious anticipation of potential negative impacts of wind farms can also contribute to stress responses, and result in physical and psychological stress symptoms.

In addition, some people experience distress when they perceive a threat to the place that they live in the form of changes to the landscape, like a wind farm, but also other industrial developments, such as new housing estates, coal mines, or supermarkets.

Local concerns about wind farms can be related to perceived threats from changes to their place and can be considered a form of 'place-protection action', recognised in psychological research about the importance of 'place' and people's sense of identity. The literature has previously identified the upsetting nature of place change, leading to feelings of grief or loss. However it is important not to presume that energy projects specifically, and proposals for place change more generally, will necessarily disrupt place attachments. How changes to places are interpreted, rather than the form of change per se, is critical in determining whether the pattern of association between place attachment and acceptance is positive or negative.

Economic reward can also affect attitudes to wind turbines, with people economically involved with wind farms more likely to show a more positive attitude to wind power than those who are not."

The CAHA also submitted a statement to the Senate inquiry into 'The Social and Economic Impact of Rural Wind Farms'; (Submission number 605).

 
Wind turbines through mist
Turbines in mist
Wattle Point Wind Farm, Yorke Peninsula, SA
As of 2012/01/24 CAHA's Committee of Management was comprised of:

  • Fiona Armstrong (CAHA Convenor and President)
  • Erica Bell (Australian Rural Health Education Network)
  • Lance Emerson (Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth)
  • Bret Hart (Alliance for Future Health)
  • Liz Hanna (Royal Collge of Nursing Australia)
  • Michael Moore (Public Health Association of Australia)
  • Julia Stewart (CRANAplus)
  • Kristine Olaris (North Yarra Community Health)
  • Elizabeth Reale (Australian Nursing Federation)
At the same date their Expert Advisory Committee included:
  • Associate Professor Erica Bell, University Department of Rural Health, University of Tasmania
  • Associate Professor Grant Blashki, Nossal Institute for Global Health
  • Dr Susie Burke, Senior Psychologist, Public Interest, Environment & Disaster Response, Australian Psychological Society
  • Dr Marion Carey, Public Health Research Fellow, Monash Sustainability Institute
  • Professor Simon Chapman, Professor of Public Health, University of Sydney
  • Associate Professor Jane Carthey, Director, Centre for Health Assets Australasia, University of NSW
  • Professor Anthony Capon, National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, Australian National University
  • Professor David Karoly, Federation Fellow in the School of Earth Sciences, University of Melbourne
  • Professor Stephan Lewandowsky, School of Psychology, University of Western Australia
  • Dr Peter Tait, RACGP General Practitioner of the Year 2007, Alice Springs

CAHA's membership is a highly credible coalition of organisations:

  • Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW)
  • Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM)
  • Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS)
  • Australian Hospitals and Healthcare Association (AHHA)
  • Australian Health Promotion Association (AHPA)
  • Australian Institute of Health Innovation (AIHI)
  • Australian Research Alliance of Children and Youth (ARACY)
  • Australian Women's Health Network (AWHN)
  • Australian Nursing Federation (ANF)
  • Australian Psychological Society (APS)
  • Australian Rural Health Education Network (ARHEN)
  • CRANAplus
  • Doctors for the Environment Australia (DEA)
  • Doctors Reform Society
  • Health Consumers' Network (Qld)
  • Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA)
  • Royal College of Nursing Australia (RCNA)
  • North Yarra Community Health (NYCH)
  • Services for Australian Rural and Remote Allied Health (SARRAH)
  • Women's Health in the North
  • World Vision
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Edited 2014/07/05

Waubra Foundation

 

Sound, infrasound or 'pressure pulses'

It is interesting that the so called "Waubra Foundation" first were not clear on how wind turbines were making people sick – it just happened. Later they blamed sound. When this was found to not be very convincing they changed to infrasound. I see that in Chairman Peter Mitchell's letter to the AMA he was talking about 'pressure pulses'; perhaps in response to the SA EPA's report that infrasound levels were no higher near wind farms than elsewhere?

I blame Diabolical Wind Turbine Rays!

As of December 2013 the Waubra Foundation now has a dedicated page on this site.

The Waubra Foundation is a misleadingly named group of wind farm opponents with very little connection to the township of Waubra and a very dubious right to call themselves a foundation. (Also see notes on the so-called Waubra disease, on this page.)

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Added 2011/10/20

A link between blood pressure and turbine operation?

Sarah Laurie (and others) have claimed that turbine operation causes an increase in the blood pressure of susceptible people. In her evidence given at Melbourne to the Senate Inquiry into Wind Farms Ms Laurie said, regarding symptoms that included elevated blood pressure, that: "Yes, it can be absolutely linked to the turbines." and "... these symptoms are occurring when the turbines are turning. There are periods of time when, for example, the wind is not blowing or the turbines are turned off for maintenance, and people feel well and they are not getting the symptoms. There is a very direct correlation between symptoms experienced and the turbines turning."

Ms Laurie provided data on blood pressure and wind turbine operation to the SA Environment Resources and Development Court to justify this claim. The blood pressures were recorded first thing in the morning of a number of days by each of three people living within 5km of the Waubra Wind Farm and related to mean overnight wind turbine generation. The three people involved had clearly elevated blood pressure.

What has been found?

If Ms Laurie's claims were factual, there would be a mathematical correlation between higher levels of wind turbine operation and elevated blood pressure recordings.

Professor Gary Wittert of the University of Adelaide, who gave evidence in the same ERD Court hearing, analysed the data and found that there was no significant correlation between the blood pressures and the wind turbine activity. That is, there was nothing in the record of blood presures and turbine operation that was provided by Ms Laurie to indicate that the blood pressure problem was increased when the turbines were operating.

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Wind turbine line-up
Wind turbine line-up, Waterloo, SA


 
Added 2011/08/10

An opinion from a clinical psychologist

The following was extracted from the Four Corners comment board following the controversial "Against the Wind" program of 2011/07/25. It was written by Dr Sarah Edelman, who kindly made some minor edits to the piece to suit the context of this Net page; her email address is "sedelman1@gmail.com".

 
Dr Sarah Edelman is a clinical psychologist, author and trainer. She worked for many years as a research psychologist and lecturer at the University of Technology Sydney. These days, in addition to her private practice Sarah conducts training programs for psychologists, medical practitioners, industry groups and the general public. She is a frequent guest on 702 ABC radio, and has contributed many articles in professional journals and in the mainstream media. Her book, "Change Your Thinking" (ABC Books) is a best seller in the self-help genre.
Author: Dr Sarah Edelman
Date/Time: 29 Jul 2011 3:31:16pm
Subject: Anxiety is the key

"For any psychologist who specialises in anxiety disorders it is totally unsurprising to see individuals who are stressed and fearful of the wind turbines also experiencing a range of physical symptoms. Our brain is designed to focus on threat. Once we perceive that something bad, dangerous or threatening is in our lives (or in our immediate environment) we become hypervigilant and aroused. People who are in an anxious state typically experience high startle reflex, insomnia, headaches, nausea, twitches, electrical sensations and various other symptoms. I see them every day. The symptoms described by the affected individuals in the [Four Corners] program are very typical somatic symptoms associated with hypervigilance. Some, like the man who described "a sensation of his heart wanting to leap out of his chest, and just feeling as if he was going to – about to die", are experiencing panic attacks.

While some people suggest that these individuals are just noticing random symptoms that we all experience, and attributing them to the wind turbines, in my view the individuals interviewed on the 4 Corners were clearly anxious and distressed, and were experiencing genuine physical symptoms. Anxiety related symptoms are not imagined – they are real. When these individuals leave the area they feel better because they feel safe – hypervigilance drops and nervous arousal subsides. However this is not the same thing as the biological pathways that are being proposed by those who claim a direct causal link between turbines and ill-health.

While somatic (anxiety-related) symptoms are associated with nervous arousal and lots of unpleasant symptoms they are rarely associated with serious medical illness, which is why Prof. Wittert's study found no increase in the prescription of medications for people living in the area. However in vulnerable individuals ongoing anxiety may lead to depression, which is a medical illness, and may be seen in future studies of this population. Further, even if not dangerous, the symptoms are unpleasant and distressing, particularly when individuals believe they reflect serious dangers to their health. Unsurprisingly, insomnia is one of the commonly reported symptoms.

I don't have a strong view about the politics of wind farms, however I do think the scare mongering that is occurring (and especially involving children in the scare campaign) is unhelpful. It perpetuates the problem by feeding the fear that gives rise to anxiety and somatisation in susceptible individuals. I can guarantee that if you can remove threat perceptions, the symptoms will disappear. However banishing fear is a tall order, especially when beliefs are so strong and emotions are hot."

Doctor Edelman's candid view, as a practicing clinical psychologist, is a very valuable addition to the debate on the causes of the so-called "wind turbine syndrome".

Dr Susie Burke (Senior Psychologist, Public Interest, Environment and Disaster Response, Aust. Psychological Soc. Nat. Office) told me that she agrees with Dr Edelman's comments and that "stress and anxiety are a huge part of the health complaint picture".

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Altered 2014/05/09

Epidemic hysteria

 

Chronology

The earliest claim of a link between wind turbines and ill health that I know of was made by Dr David Iser in mid 2004. This was followed by Dr Nina Pierpont who published her book in 2009 and Sarah Laurie who became active in 2010.

These people are responsible for a huge amount of unnecessary suffering.

 

Psychology

Medicine in general, and psychology in particular, are well outside of any expertise I might have. All the credible evidence that I have come across points to there being no physiological cause for the symptoms of the so-called "wind turbine syndrome", so I am forced to look for a psychological cause.
Leslie P. Boss published a paper in Epidemiologic Reviews (Vol. 19, No. 2) entitled "Epidemic Hysteria: A Review of the Published Literature".

Boss wrote of an "anxiety variant [of epidemic hysteria], in which abdominal pain, headaches, dizziness, fainting, nausea and hyperventilation are the most common symptoms". These sound similar to the symptoms of "wind turbine syndrome". Boss continues: "In some epidemics, actual clinical illness in some group members may spread as epidemic hysteria by the transmission of anxiety to groups observing those who were initially ill"; this sounds similar to the spreading of hysteria about wind turbines by people like Dr Nina Pierpont and Sarah Laurie, who condition people to expect to feel ill if they go anywhere near a wind farm.

Boss writes that the characteristics of such illnesses include, among other things, "symptom complex suggesting organic illness but without identifiable cause, no illness among other groups sharing the same environment, illness not related to physical proximity to exposure ...". There is no known mechanism by which wind turbines could make people ill. Very few workers on wind farms, who have much higher exposure to turbines than householders who complain of symtoms, have any problems. Those who would have us believe that wind turbines make people ill often make statements to the effect that the problems are worse at greater distances (against the inverse square law of physics) than close.

"Wind Turbine Syndrome" occurs almost exclusively in English speaking countries. This is to be expected if the cause is some sort of epidemic hysteria because English speaking people hear and read the statements of people like Nina Pierpont and Ms Laurie. There seems to be no counterparts of these rumour-mongers in non-English speaking countries; people don't hear of the alleged illnesses and so don't 'suffer from them'.

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Edited 2011/11/26

Some environmental causes of illness that have been controversial

Some people claim that the people involved in the wind industry know that their turbines are making people ill, but they are covering it up. In the past the asbestos and tobacco industries did just this; they knew that their products were killing people, but they did their best to obscure the facts and cast doubt on the science.

The fact is that, so far as I know, nobody has any convincing, scientifically valid, evidence that there is a link between wind turbines and ill-health beyond annoyance, some loss of sleep in a small minority of people, and anxiety.

The purpose of this section is to show that there have been some valid health concerns associated with substances or industries and some concerns that seem, from all the evidence, to be illusory. The valid concerns were shown to be valid by research at an early stage.

If any reader has information showing that I am wrong on any of the points below I'd be pleased to hear about it (references please); my email address is near the top of every one of these pages.

Alleged causeMechanismScientific literature
Asbestos Asbestos fibres lodge in the lungs, irritate the tissue, and eventually bring about disease including cancer. There was ample evidence for the link between asbestos and disease in the scientific literature long before the industry admitted to there being a problem.
Combustion products from the burning of fossil fuels Particles of partly burned fuel, sulphur dioxide, oxides of nitrogen, mercury, and other substances harmful to health are released following the burning of fossil fuels. This is well documented in the scientific literature.
Electromagnetic radiation from power transmission lines The low frequency electromagnetic radiation from transmission lines could produce a very little heat in animals, but has far too little power to cause harm. So far as I know, the scientific literature does not support there being a link between transmission lines and disease.
Potatoes Potatoes are, of course, harmless and a valuable stapple food to millions of people. But, like wind power potatoes went through periods when people quite irrationally resisted eating them. Like the case of wind turbines, there was never any scientific evidence that potatoes were harmfull
Smart meters Electromagnetic radiation (EMR) There is no reason to believe that there is any uneque EMR from smart meters, nor that EMR, in anything but extremely high doses, is harmful.
Mobile phones; mobile phone towers Similarly to power transmission lines, there is no known mechanism by which phone towers could cause illness. Mobile phones, as they are held very close to the head, could produce warming in the brain. I know of nothing convincing in the scientific literature linking either mobile phones or mobile phone towers with illness.
Alleged causeMechanismScientific literature
Salt/sodium The high level of salt (common salt is sodium chloride) in the modern diet produces an imbalance between sodium and potassium in the body; the sodium/potassium balance is very important to many physiological processes in the body. There is ample evidence in the scientific literature to show that a high level of salt in diet is linked to a number of illnesses and thousands of additional deaths each year in Australia alone, yet remarkably few people are concerned about it.
Tobacco There are a number of carcinogens in tobacco smoke, and it can produce many other health problems as well. There was plenty of evidence for the link between tobacco and disease in the scientific literature long before the industry admitted to there being a problem. The tobacco industry funded research and publicity for many years with the aim of obscuring the facts.
TV screens/computer monitors Similarly to power transmission lines and mobile phones, there is no known mechanism by which cathode ray tubes could cause illness. I know of nothing convincing in the scientific literature linking either TVs and computer monitors with physical illness.
Vaccinations Among other things it has been claimed that the minute amount of mercury in some vaccinations are harmful. All the scientifically acceptable evidence is that vaccinations cause far more good than harm.
Wind turbines There is no known mechanism by which wind turbines could cause illness. There is nothing in the scientific literature directly linking wind turbines and illness.

The alleged illnesses associated with wind turbines have been compared to the illnesses cause by tobacco and people in the wind industry have been accused of covering up the evidence as did the people in the tobacco industry. A rational consideration of the evidence seems to show that the two have nothing in common.

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Updated 2015/02/24

Bulletin of Science, Technology and Society

On 2015/02/24 ResearchGate gave the BSTS an impact factor of 0.00.

 
As of July 2014 this journal was under new editorship with a Florida Professor trying to rebuild it. It seems she took it over in early 2013 when it had no backlog, no editorial board and no list of reviewers. The special issue featuring anti-wind papers was a last gasp of that journal's previous incarnation apparently.

The new editor...
Susan Carol Losh, PhD
Department of Educational Psychology and Learning Systems
Florida State University
Tallahassee FL 32306-4453
http://bst.sagepub.com/

Thanks to Mike Barnard for the above information.

In August 2011 this journal published an issue concentrating entirely on possible health effects of wind turbines. As mentioned elsewhere on these pages, there has been virtually nothing published in the respectable peer-reviewed scientific literature suggesting a direct link between ill-health and wind turbines. So the question of the standing of this journal and the papers in this particular issue of this journal required investigation.

I will give just one example of a false statement in one of the papers published in the journal. In the paper "Wind Turbines Make Waves: Why Some Residents Near Wind Turbines Become Ill", by Magda Havas and David Colling – the abstract starts with "People who live near wind turbines complain of symptoms...". This is not true: it would be true if it stated "Some people who live near wind turbines complain of symptoms...". Most people who live near wind turbines do not complain of adverse symptoms.

Comment by Professor Simon Chapman, Public Health, University of Sydney

 

More recent statement by Prof. Chapman

Prof. Chapman has updated his statement here; Sept. 2012.
The Bulletin is a journal which has appeared erratically over the past few years. The journal was indexed between 1981-1995 by the Web of Science, the international scientific indexing platform which "covers over 10,000 of the highest impact journals worldwide, including Open Access journals and over 110,000 conference proceedings." But after 1995 it was dropped from the list of journals being indexed, generally a sign that indexing services regard a journal as having fallen below an acceptable scientific standard. In the 14 years it was indexed, a citation search conduced on 10 October 2011 showed that it published 961 papers, with a total of just 345 citations – an average of 0.36 per paper – almost a homeopathic strength citation rate. As of today, Web of Science shows it has published only seven papers which have been cited 7 or more times, with the most cited paper in its history having been cited just 15 times. PubMed, the indexing service of the US National Library of Medicine also does not index the journal.

Nonetheless, anti-windfarm websites have described the journal as a "leading scientific peer reviewed journal" and the issue as "groundbreaking". In summary, this is a journal which cannot be described as low ranking in scientific research publishing. It is more accurately described as "unranking".

Just to give you some perspective on the above citation rates: in my career, I have published 5 papers which have each been cited more than 100 times; 24 cited between 50-100 times; 36 cited 20-49 times; and 69 cited 10-19 times. This WHOLE JOURNAL (ie all authors) has only 7 papers cited 7 or more times (max 15). It is really the saddest of sad little journals.

Comment by Dr Kenneth Clarke, University of Adelaide

In an attempt to gauge the quality of the peer review process in the special issue of the Bulletin of Science, Technology and Society, the corresponding author of each articles, and the editor were contacted by email. All authors were asked politely if they would be willing to release the reviewer comments for their article. The editor was asked if he would be willing to release the reviewer comments, or any details about the peer review process for the special issue.

The editor and four authors didn't bother to respond. The authors who did respond either simply avoided answering the question, referred further communication to the editor, or launched ad homonym attacks against me.

I recently discovered four additional articles by the BSTS relating to wind turbines that were not published in the special issue, and currently only appear online. These authors will be contacted with the same request as the authors in the special issue and given three weeks to respond.

Given the lack of meaningful response we can only speculate about the peer review process conducted by the BSTS for this special issue. However, for a journal claiming to be peer reviewed the editor and authors show little interest in either transparency or additional peer review.

Professor Chapman had also attempted to find out about peer review of these articles; with equally little success.
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This section added 2011/12/26

British Acoustics Bulletin


Quoting from a letter written by Professor Simon Chapman and published in the Brisbane Times...
The British Acoustics Bulletin has just published what is now the 10th independent review of the evidence on wind farms causing annoyance and ill health in people. And for the 10th time it has emphasised that annoyance has far more to do with social and psychological factors in those complaining than any direct effect from sound or inaudible infrasound emanating from wind turbines.

A few extracts give the flavour: "the degree of annoyance is only slightly related to noise level"; "the fact that someone was complaining was mainly determined by the personality of the individual"; "fear of the noise source can increase annoyance"; and "adverse feelings ... were influenced by feelings of lacking control, being subjected to injustice, lacking influence, and not being believed".

The full letter from Prof. Chapman, who discussed many aspects of the psychology behind wind farm opposition, can be read here. The publications page of the publishers of the British Acoustics Bulletin, the british Institute of Acoustics, is here; I would like to have gone to the particular issue of the Bulletin myself, but it is apparently available only by subscription.

The results of an informal poll was published in the Brisbane Times below the letter: the question was "Should state governments embrace wind farm technology?" Of the 2508 votes, 75% were yes, 25% no. Take note SA Liberals.

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This section added 2011/12/26




Gag clauses in contracts


 
Canunda wind turbine
Wind turbines at Canunda, SA
Wind farmers do not place 'gag clauses' in the contracts they make with land holders to stop the landholders speaking out if they get sick. So far as I know, such an action would have no standing in law; a contract cannot take away a person's civil rights. In spite of this, wind farm opponents regularly claim 'gag clauses', (also see Secret deals).

Simon Chapman, Professor of public health at the Uni. of Sydney wrote "I've collected blank contract forms from Australian companies and none that I've seen contains such clauses."

There are confidentiality clauses in contracts between land owners and wind farmers involving money. Is is standard practice and reasonable that wind farmers do not want the details of exactly how much they are paying particular farmers to become common knowledge.

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Inverse square law

This physical law has been known since the seventeenth century and applies to things like gravitation, electrostatics, light and sound. It describes how the strength of something like sound decreases with the distance from the source; putting it simply, doubling the distance from the source causes the strength (loudness) to decrease to a quarter, trebling the distance reduces the strength to a ninth, four times the distance a sixteenth the strength, etc.

 

Suspension of a long standing law of physics in the case of wind turbines

On 2012/03/21 Ms Laurie wrote to me: "I think your assumption that the inverse square law applies is incorrect, especially for people living in homes near wind turbines and chronically exposed."
It is basically a matter of geometry. As something moves out from a point source it can be thought of as passing through imaginary spheres; the surface area of the sphere at 200m will be four times that of the sphere at 100m, the area of the sphere at 300m will be nine times the area of the one at 100m.

The inverse square law applies to anything that radiates from a distinct source.

Many of the stories that we hear about the alleged problems caused by wind turbines at considerable distances go entirely counter to the inverse square law.

Does the inverse square law of attraction apply between dogs and trees??

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Altered 2012/02/28

Dose-response and the relationship between distance and symptoms

The claimed cases of illnesses 'caused by' wind turbines bare little, if any, relationship to the distance that those people are from the turbines – and therefore to the dose they receive of whatever could possibly cause any illness. The technical term for this is the dose-response relationship or the exposure-response relationship.

Illnesses and injuries that have environmental causes, such as: nuclear radiation poisoning, microwave exposure from radar installations, ultra-violet exposure, heavy metal poisoning, exposure to carcinogens, snake and spider bite, hearing damage caused by loud noises, and poisoning in general show a dose-response relationship. The greater the dose or exposure, the more serious you can expect will be the illness or damage.

The dosage of anything radiating from a wind turbine would obey the inverse square law of physics. Put simply, if you are twice as far away as someone else, you would receive a quarter the dose that he or she would, and if you were three times as far away you would receive a ninth the dose, in any given period of time.

 
Those who say that wind turbines make people ill claim that there is a lot that is unkown in exactly how much exposure people are receiving. Exactly what the dose is is not important; we know that workers are receiving thousands of times the exposure to sound and infrasound that householders are receiving, yet are entirely unaffected.
For example, a person working on wind turbines would often go within 80 metres of them (the foot of the towers). The vociferous advocate of a link between ill-health and wind turbines, Sarah Laurie, claims that illness can be caused by turbines up to ten kilometres away. It can easily be calculated, from the inverse square law, that the intensity of anything (hypothetically) being radiated by a turbine and received by the person at 80m will be more than 15 000 times greater than anyone will receive at 10km. Yet the wind farm worker, in almost all cases, is quite unaffected, but Dr Laurie expects us to believe that someone receiving one fifteen-thousandth of the dose might become ill!

 
The dose-response relationship, if we believe those who say that wind turbines are making people ill
Found
The workers (right plots) receive much higher doses, but show no ill-effects!
 
The dose-response relationship we would expect if wind turbines really were making people ill
Expected
We would expect the workers (right plots) to show more symptoms because they receive the highest doses. It doesn't happen!
For calculations see 'technical' section, below
When a workman goes up into the nacelle of a turbine he will be 5 to 50m from different parts of the blades. If we say 30m for the sake of calculation, then the dose that he would receive of anything coming from the blades would be 10 000 times that of someone at 3km. The same worker would be within 1m of the machinery inside the nacelle, so that the dose he would receive of anything being radiated by the machinery would be 1 000 000 times that of a person at 1km, and 25 000 000 time what a person at 5km would receive. The worker is entirely unharmed, yet Ms Laurie would have us believe that people are made sick at 5, 10, even 15km.

The graphs on the right are based on simulated, not real, data. Each plot on the graphs represents one person's dose and response. The doses are on the X scale at the bottom. The higher numbers on the 'Level of symptoms' (Y) scale on the left correspond to more severe inconvenience or illness. An explanation of these is given in the 'technical' section below.

The upper graph shows what we observe (wind farm workers close to wind turbines having no symptoms of illness – right plots) and are told by people like Ms Laurie (moderate to severe symptoms in householders at distances up to five or even 10km – left plots).

I have calculated the relative doses that science tells us we could expect at the various distances. The upper graph shows quite the reverse of what we would expect in real life; the workers, who receive the highest 'doses' are unaffected, while the people living further away have, we are told, illnesses caused by the turbines.

The lower graph shows what we would expect if wind turbines really did cause illness. The workers, who receive the greatest 'doses' of whatever might be causing the illnesses (corresponding to the plots at the upper right), would show the most severe symptoms, while those living at greater and greater distances, and receiving lower and lower doses (the plots on the lower left), would show steadily less symptoms.

 
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We are told that different people have different susceptibility to "wind turbine syndrome", but are we to believe that susceptibility can vary so enormously? Can we think of any real cause of illness that is so variable in its potency for one person or another? I don't know of any.



Technical – rules and data used to create the graphs

Definitions
Unit of dose:
A Unit is the amount of the mysterious and malevolent force said to be coming from turbines. I have defined one unit as the amount 'received' by a person at 1km from a 1MW turbine in 1 hour.

Response: symptoms
I have used 'levels of problems'.
1. Minor annoyance;
2. Minor or major annoyance plus some loss of sleep;
3. Severe symptoms; those of level 2 plus nausea or headache or elevated blood pressure.

Assumptions:
1. The inverse square law relating anything radiating out from a discrete source will apply;
2. Dosage will accumulate with time a person is exposed;
3. Dosage will be proportional to the size of the turbine;
4. Dosage will increase in proportion to the number of turbines involved.

The simulated data
For the calculations I have assumed that all the turbines are 3MW.

For the 'If we believe the opponents' case; top graph

 
Hours exposedDistance (m)No. of turbines DoseResponse
Worker 1480 118750
Worker 26200 14500
Householder 1241000 42881
Householder 2243000 12963
Householder 3242000 81442
Householder 4244000 16723
Householder 5241500 61921
The dose is calculated by multiplying the number of hours of exposure by the square of the inverse of the distance in kilometres, by the number of turbines and then by 3 (the MW power of the turbines).

The number of turbines used in the calculation is to allow for the fact that as one gets further away from an individual turbine there are more turbines at a similar distance to the nearest one. For example, the householder at 1000m from the nearest turbine is assumed to be roughly equally distant from three other turbines; while, because of the inverse square law, the workers much higher (hypothetical) dose would predominantly come from the turbine they happen to be close to.

For the 'expected' case; lower graph

 
Hours exposedDistance (m)No. of turbines DoseResponse
Worker 1480 118753
Worker 26200 14502
Householder 1241000 42882
Householder 2243000 12960
Householder 3242000 81441
Householder 4244000 16720
Householder 5241500 61921
All the data in the table here are identical to the earlier table, except the level of response is proportional to the dose; as would be expected in the real world.

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This section added 2012/03/07

Attitude

 
Turbines and trees at Waterloo Wind Farm
Waterloo turbine
This photo was taken before I slept under one of the Waterloo turbines.
An article titled Nature That Nurtures in the March 2012 Scientific American discussed several studies that link state of mind with medical outcomes. Nature That Nurtures was about the effect of gardens on hospital patients, but there are interesting links to the wind turbine-health controversy.

Environmental psychologist Roger Ulrich published an article in Science in 1984. "Ulrich and his team reviewed the medical records of people recovering from gallbladder surgery at a suburban Pennsylvania hospital. All other things being equal, patients with bedside windows looking out on leafy trees healed, on average, a day faster, needed significantly less pain medication and had fewer postsurgical complications than patients who instead saw a brick wall."

The Scientific American article went on to discuss other cases where patients' ability to view or visit gardens improved their medical outcomes.

Being able to view a garden through a window could not have any physical effect on a person's health, but it could make them more cheerful, more optimistic, more relaxed, and then their psychological state could go on an have a physical effect.

People's attitude toward wind turbines is very important in determining how they react to the proposed or actual construction of a nearby wind farm. Most of the people who complain of sicknesses caused by the turbines started with negative attitudes to turbines.

Surely we are seeing a psychological state producing a physical outcome in the wind turbine case, just as seen by Ulrich's team and the other researchers discussed in the Scientific American article.

If a person sees a wind turbine (as I do) as graceful, elegant, an optimistic symbol of a cleaner and better future and finds the sounds that turbines make pleasant and restful (as I do), they are very unlikely to develop any ill-effects from being near turbines. Another person, who has been made fearful of turbines by people like Pierpont and Laurie, or who sees turbines as ugly and industrial impositions into their landscape, is more likely to become anxious and develop physical symptoms from their psychological state.

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Altered 2015/02/12

No sickness from wind turbines in WA, Tasmania or Europe
Irresponsible and lazy journalists spread the expectation of illness in SE Australia

 
Feldheim, Germany
Feldheim
Photo credit: The Independent, UK
Feldheim, and many other German, Danish and Spanish villages, has turbines but no sickness.
It seems that irresponsible media and other rumour-mongers have not been telling Western Australians, Tasmanians and Europeans that if they live anywhere near a wind turbine they should be sick. Hence they are not sick. On the SE Australian mainland journalists either don't bother looking into the facts (wind turbines don't cause illness) or they are happy to spread the impression that turbines have been making people ill because it adds impact to their stories. They are helping to make people sick!

This is all strong evidence that so called 'wind turbine syndrome' is largely psychosomatic.

Western Australia

I first wondered whether there may have been no concern about the (unsubstantiated) wind turbine-sickness link in WA when I read in two Mandurah newspapers about a proposed wind farm at Clifton, around 30km south of Mandurah. Neither newspaper mentioned health concerns. Then I read an article in WA Today about wind power in WA on 2012/04/04; again, no mention of health concerns.

So I contacted Craig Carter of Verve Energy, the company that runs most of the wind farms in WA. Craig informed my by email on 2012/04/10 that

"From my knowledge, supposed adverse health effects due to infrasound from wind farms have not been raised for our wind farm projects and proposals."
So far as I know, there are no branches of the Australian Landscape Guardians in WA, and Sarah Laurie has never spread her message there.

The lack of complaints in WA was confirmed in work done by Professor Simon Chapman, Alexis St. George, Karen Waller and Vince Cakic. Chapman et al's paper, "The Pattern of Complaints about Australian Wind Farms Does Not Match the Establishment and Distribution of Turbines: Support for the Psychogenic, 'Communicated Disease' Hypothesis" may be read on Plos One.
 
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Tasmania

Professor Simon Chapman writing on The Conversation, 2015/02/11; reported that he had found that there had been no complaints about Tasmanian wind farms causing health problems. The original paper by Simon Chapman, Alexis St. George, Karen Waller and Vince Cakic, "The Pattern of Complaints about Australian Wind Farms Does Not Match the Establishment and Distribution of Turbines: Support for the Psychogenic, 'Communicated Disease' Hypothesis" may be read on Plos One.


Europe

The following extracts were taken from Neil Barrett's excellent document "Getting the Wind Up" on the facts about ill-health 'caused by wind turbines'.

Germany

Hans Josef Fell, the energy spokesman for the Greens Party wrote:
"The claims of the Waubra Foundation about health effects in a distance up to 10 kilometers are of course totally ridiculous. We have millions of people in Germany living within a distance of 10 kilometers to the next turbine. And tens of thousands who have lived near turbines for up to 25 years without health problems which anybody links to wind power."

Denmark

 
All the area in pink, including central Copenhagen, is within ten kilometres of wind turbines.
Copenhagen
According to Sarah Laurie and the 'Waubra Foundation' the people of Copenhagen should be suffering from Wind Turbine Syndrome and 'Pressure Pulses'. Of course they are not.

For more see the article by Ketan Joshi.

Dr Poul Ostergaard is an expert in energy planning in Denmark:
I am not sure which health effects you are referring to – so I guess you can take that as an indication of a lack of debate here... There is a small debate on infra sound – but it is not a very active debate. A brief visit to the website of the Danish anti-wind power organisation "Neighbours to wind turbines" ("Naboer til Vindmøller") didn't reveal health effects being promoted as a cause of concern."

On Europe generally

Paul Gipe, the US-based author of Wind Power: Renewable Energy for Home, Farm and Business and five other books on wind power, wrote creatively of his own 'illness':
"Yes, anti-wind hysteria has made me sick. I got queasy in my stomach when I think of the 150,000 wind turbines operating worldwide and still no epidemic of death and disease had yet broken out despite the sickening anti-wind hype in the English-speaking world. I worried myself sick that a new Black Death would strike Germany and Spain who together have one-third of the world's wind turbines. I fretted even more that Europe would collapse in panic and mayhem from its 100,000 wind turbines, many now operating for decades. Why then are Germans, Danes, and Spaniards not falling by the thousands to dementia and disease? Are they made of sterner stuff? Or is it simply that they don't speak English and can't read all the propaganda fostered by the anti-renewables lobby. It is the anti-renewables lobby–it's not just anti-wind anymore, they're after solar too–that makes me sick."
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More on Europe by Neil Barrett

In an article published on line in Independent Australia, 2012/04/16, Neil wrote:
"Another type of evidence is provided by the websites of windpower opposition groups. Although there is no nationwide organisation of windpower groups in Germany, there is a web portal to which 78 groups have been linked. After putting aside the large number of sites that have lapsed, a total of 44 were left. Almost all of these sites are dominated by concerns about landscape and nature protection. As for health effects, about 40 per cent of sites devote only 1 to 2 lines to the subject and only three sites actually treat the subject seriously with more than a paragraph. Almost one-third of the 44 sites made no mention of health effects at all."
So, why should we have people becoming ill in the English speaking world and not the rest, unless we are dealing with epidemic hysteria rather than with any illness caused by the wind turbines?





 
This section written 2012/10/08

AEF confirms the link between English and WTS

Max Rheese, head of the anti-renewables astroturf organisation, Australian Environment Foundation, produced a metric that demonstrates the link between English speaking countries and anti-wind farm activism – and by implication, the belief in 'wind turbine syndrome'. Max listed 484 anti-wind organisations by the countries in which they were based in an attempt to show that concern about a link between wind turbines and illness was not confined to English speaking countries.

It is important to note that it was wind farm opponents who made up the list, not Ketan Joshi.

Ketan, who is a wind power supporter, then took the 484 organisations and assigned the official spoken language of each country "into the categories 'English' and 'Non-English', and then listed each country by the number of anti-wind groups."

Language link

Ketan points out that 91% of al the anti-wind groups listed are in English speaking countries. The top seven countries in the numbers of opposition groups all have English as their primary language.

Max Rheese and the Australian Environment Foundation seem to have confirmed the link between epidemic hysteria and wind turbine 'illnesses'!

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Added 2014/09/08

A survey in Midwest USA

A survey of 2 477 voters was conducted by Public Opinion Strategies and FM3 on behalf of RE-AMP, which publishes Midwestern Energy News in which the results were published. 14% of respondents reported that they believed wind turbines could harm human health.

Perhaps more interesting was the result in Iowa, the state that leads the USA in the proportion of its energy it gets from wind farms, where only 7% of people accepted that turbines could harm health. The highest proportion believing the claims (21%) was in Wisconsin, "a state which has far fewer wind farms and where some political leaders have in recent years been hostile to renewable and distributed energy".

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Added 2013/03/22

Windfarm workers sick leave

Vestas Australia Wind Technology reported 1.4% absence due to illness among their blue collar workers in the period from the beginning of 2012 to the end of February 2013 (mostly wind farm workers, a few warehouse people). Note that a 1.4% absentee rate equals one day in 71 or about three and a half working days a year. The Australian Financial Review mentioned an average of 9.4 days a year (2012/02/07) for Australian workers.

The very low rate of sick leave in wind farm workers would be very difficult to explain if wind turbines truly made people sick.

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Altered 2012/06/11

Is your car making you ill?

There are two ways of looking at this analogy; the major components of turbines are also in cars and sound levels (including infrasound) in cars are much higher than near wind turbines.

The major components of wind turbines are also in cars

 

My calculations

I have assumed that all effects would obey the inverse square law, which is a fundamental law of physics. I have assumed that the effect from the fan would be proportional to the 'swept area' of the fan: 0.4m2 for the car and 90m2 for the wind turbine. The effect of the generator (or alternator in the car case) would be proportional to the electrical power being generated: 0.5kW for the car, 2000kW for the wind turbine. The effect of the gearbox would be proportional to the power passing through the gearbox: 100kW for the car, 2000kW for the turbine.
Wind turbines consist of three main parts: a fan, a gearbox and a generator. Our cars have fans, gearboxes and generators and we are much closer to those, much more often, than we are to wind turbines. How many of us believe that our cars are making us ill?

If there is something coming from one or another of the main components of a wind turbine making people ill, then why isn't the same part of a car having the same effect?

It is quite possible to calculate the level of effect we should be suffering from our cars, compared to from wind turbines.

Based on the assumption that the components of a car are 1.5m from the person involved, and the wind turbine is one kilometre away, it can be calculated that any effect from the car's fan should be nine times that from the wind turbine fan, any effect coming from the car's generator should be over a hundred times that from the wind turbine generator and any effect coming from the car's gearbox should be more than 20 000 times anything coming from a wind turbine's gearbox.

Both audible sound and infrasound are louder in cars than near wind turbines

Sound levels are far higher in a car than at any distance from a wind turbine. Even at 100m from a turbine the sound level is typically around 55dB, at one kilometre it could be expected to be around 32dB. In a car travelling at highway speed the sound level will probably be from 70 to 80dB(A). In my car I measured 73dB(A).

Infrasound levels too are much higher in a car than near a wind turbine. In an article on the Michgan Land Use Institute Net site Dr. Kai Ming Li said "In a Finnish survey, infrasound levels exceeding 120dB were found in cars and railway engines. The usual range in vehicles with closed windows was 90 to 110 dB." In the Sonus report on infrasound and wind turbines conducted for Pacific Hydro infrasound levels of 67dB(G) and 63dB(G) were recorded at Clements Gap wind farm 185m downwind of the closest operating turbine and at Cape Bridgewater Wind Farm 200m downwind of the closest operating turbine, respectively.

Wind turbines at sunrise
Wind turbines at sunrise
 
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Invitation to lie?

While there may be some people who honestly believe that they have been made ill by wind turbines, some of the claims are simply lies.

On 2012/09/05 one of the opponents of the Waterloo Wind farm circulated the following email to other wind turbine opponents...

"From: Mary Morris
Sent: Wednesday, 5 September 2012 12:44 PM
Subject: URGENT AND IMPORTANT - SEND NOISE /HEALTH COMPLAINTS TO CLARE AND GOYDER COUNCIL

GOYDER COUNCIL SAYS IT HAS RECEIVED NO WRITTEN NOISE OR HEALTH COMPLAINTS REGARDING THE WATERLOO WIND FARM.

They have the power to shut the wind farm down and get the noise nuisance investigated.

LETS DO IT!!!

Please send in a written complaint to both the Goyder Council and Clare Council

All it has to be is a simple letter stating that the noise and vibration is causing a serious disturbance to sleep and rest, and/or that people are becoming sick – mention elderly and frail people AND children as well especially if this applies to you.

If you have already sent in a letter, send again with a cover note that you wish your submission to be considered as a formal complaint about the effects of the Waterloo wind farm.

Goyder council@goyder.sa.gov.au

Clare and Gilbert Valley admin@cgvc.sa.gov.au

Need help?? Let me know"

I have removed the phone number of the sender; originally I had also removed her name, but after it was published in Adelaide Now I saw no reason to not include it here.

How many of the 'health' complaints are actually fabrications by people who simply do not like wind turbines? We'll never know.

Wind farm businesses spend a lot of time and money in investigating complaints. It is a disgrace that at least one person is encouraging others to make noise and health complaints, apparently without genuine cause.

 
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Waubra disease

 

Waubra Disease Foundation

On the Waubra Foundation Net site, about/history page (2013/11/07) was the following:
The name "Waubra Disease" Foundation was initially chosen ... the local media were referring to the symptoms as "the Waubra Disease". The name was subsequently shortened to just "The Waubra Foundation".
The following was written by Marsha Gallagher, who lives at Waubra and has wind turbines on her property. It was published on Weekly Times Now.

It should be pointed out at the beginning that there is no condition called wind turbine syndrome recognised by the medical profession and there is no valid scientific evidence for the claim that wind turbines make people sick. What has been called Wind Turbine Syndrome is actually a form of epidemic hysteria. (Also see Waubra Foundation, on another page.)



THE community of Waubra deserves an apology, writes MARSHA GALLAGHER

I recently met people from all parts of our country and was annoyed at the number of times I was asked about Waubra disease.

Waubra disease does not exist.

In my view it is a name dreamt up by the Australian Landscape Guardians group for what has always been known as wind turbine syndrome.

Others followed suit for their own ends, such as gaining publicity for the so-called Waubra Foundation. This group of people owes the community of Waubra an apology for the damage they have done to the town's reputation.

More important, they owe our schoolchildren a heartfelt and public apology for the psychological pain inflicted on them when they and their parents saw full-page ads claiming Waubra disease could make them ill.

Some children panicked every time they had a cold or any other normal childhood illness. It was a cruel hoax and someone needs to be accountable.

Yes, Waubra does have a wind farm, but in a community of more than 500 people only about 1.3 per cent are vehemently opposed to it. The rest are in favour of it or don't mind either way.

Life goes on as it has for more than 100 years in a great community.

We still produce award-winning potatoes, crops, wool and fat lambs. Waubra Primary School is thriving, full of happy, healthy, carefree students.

Yes, local groups such as the CFA, school, kinder, sports clubs, Landcare groups and others receive financial assistance from the wind farm, but that happens any time a large company moves into a local neighbourhood.

It is not "buying" those in it. It is showing appreciation to people for allowing their company to grow and prosper there.

I don't have a problem with Landscape Guardians or individuals who have complaints of ill health or depression that they attribute to the wind farm.

I do, however, have a problem with those who have never lived in Waubra who perpetrated an outrageous lie, tarnished the reputation of the community which, far from being divided and fractured, is a united one full of mutual support.

I believe Waubra is owed an apology and statements that use the name Waubra disease should be retracted.

Call it what it is – wind turbine syndrome – and let Waubra be known for what is it, one of the best farming areas in the country with property prices increasing.

Visit our town and our wind farm. Only then will you know the truth.

 
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Good and bad infrasound?

The following is an advertisement for an 'ap' for iPhones; "Sonic Relax 1.0 for iPhone – Infrasound in your hand" See prMac.

While the majority of those opposed to wind power blame infrasound for numerous illnesses, here is someone who holds that infrasound will do you no end of good! Remarkable.

August 4, 2010 in Health and Fitness

[prMac.com] Buenos Aires, Argentina – Announcing that AppTouch, the developers of Sonic Relax, has released their latest update. The Sonic Relax application allows for self give massage and combines vibration with the wonderful benefits of Infrasound. Each session has a routine vibration accompanied with soft, but effective, infrasound frequency that caresses the relaxation zone. That is the Infrasound?, Is a sound frequency below the audible sound by humans (below 20 Hz). The infrasound therapy is very popular in many countries and produces very good effects on the human body:

  • Increase Local Circulation
  • Relieve Minor Aches and Pains
  • Relax Body Muscles.
  • Rejuvenation on Cells
  • Promotes Body Self Healing
  • Helps Move Toxins From Cells
  • Raises temperature In the Tissue
  • Improvement In Lymphatic System
  • Expansion In The Capillary Vessels

In fact, the little infrasound that comes from wind turbines is harmless, and I'd be very surprised if the iPhone ap did any good. Unless, of course, it was placibo effect in the latter and nocibo effect in the former.

 
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Wind power and health: links

In this section...

No adverse effects-peer reviewed
  Psychology
No adverse effects – not peer reviewed
Health risks from fossil fuels
Adverse effects-peer reviewed
Adverse effects – not peer reviewed
Not specifically relating to wind turbines
 
 
Altered 2015/10/11
For general wind power links; links relating to turbine noise; and links relating to other alleged wind power problems.

Many links are scattered through the text on this page.

There are a huge number of references to be found on the Net, I've concentrated on a few of the more interesting and relevant ones here.

General informative links

Wind Farms and Health from the Australian Medical Association. "The available Australian and international evidence does not support the view that the infrasound or low frequency sound generated by wind farms, as they are currently regulated in Australia, causes adverse health effects on populations residing in their vicinity."

Wind and Health from the Public Health Association of Australia.

Rational Wiki on Wind Turbine Syndrome. Discusses claims made by Pierpont and Laurie.

From 1998 to 2014 there were 49 legal cases against wind power on health grounds; 48 were decided in favour of wind power. Energy Policy Institute; written by Mike Barnard.

Links: No adverse health effects – peer reviewed

Also see Peer reviewed psychology links, below.
  • National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) "Statement and Information Paper: Evidence on Wind Farms and Human Health", February 2015.
    "After careful consideration and deliberation of the body of evidence, NHMRC concludes that there is currently no consistent evidence that wind farms cause adverse health effects in humans."
     
    Also see Reviews of the health literature
  • "The Pattern of Complaints about Australian Wind Farms Does Not Match the Establishment and Distribution of Turbines: Support for the Psychogenic, 'Communicated Disease' Hypothesis"; Simon Chapman, Alexis St. George, Karen Waller and Vince Cakic – Plos One, 2014.
  • Health Canada, November 2014; Wind Turbine Noise and Health Study: Summary of Results – health and quality of life were found to be unaffected by nearby wind turbines, some annoyance was found. (See section elsewhere on this page.)
  • NHMRC report of 2014; "There is no reliable or consistent evidence that wind farms directly cause adverse health effects in humans."
  • Wind Turbines and Health: A Critical Review of the Scientific Literature; McCunney, Mundt, Colby, Dobie, Kaliski and Blais; published November 2014 in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
    Found no link between wind turbines and health problems, minor annoyance.
  • The journal Environmental Health (impact factor given as 2.45). Health Effects and Wind Turbines: A Review of the Literature, by Loren D Knopper and Christopher A Ollson, 2011/09/14. Suggests no direct causal link between wind turbines and health.
  • The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) released a report on Wind Turbines and Health in July 2010. No definite connection between wind turbines and ill-health found.
  • The Lancet Electricity generation and health; discusses major health problems from fossil fuel electricity, no mention of health problems from wind power.
  • Evaluation of the Scientific Literature on the Health Effects Associated with Wind Turbines and Low Frequency Sound prepared for Wisconsin Public Service Commission.
  • The Victorian (Australia) Department of Health produced a study titled Wind farms, sound and health and concluded: "There is no evidence that sound which is at inaudible levels can have a physiological effect on the human body. This is the case for sound at any frequency, including infrasound."
  • The Western Australian Department of Health produced a brochure on wind farms and health. It mentioned noise and annoyance, but not any direct link between wind turbines and health problems.
  • Assessing Sound Emissions from Proposed Wind Farms and Measuring the Performance of Completed Projects for the US National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, 2011. Download.
  • Strategic Health Impact Assessment On Wind Energy Development In Oregon. A 106 page review of the literature. No direct links found between wind turbines and health apart from anxiety related matters.
     
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  • Infrasound: Brief Review of Toxicological Literature, published by the National Toxicology Program of the US Department of Health and Human Services. Deals with the effects of infrasound on human health, not specifically with infrasound from wind turbines. Most papers referred to state that harmful effects of infrasound do not occur below around 110dB, well above the levels recorded from wind turbines (for example, in the Executive summary, it is stated that "short periods of continuous exposures to infrasound below 150 dB are safe and that continuous exposures up to 24 hours are safe if the levels are below 118 dB.")

Psychology – peer reviewed

 
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Links: No adverse health effects – not peer reviewed

  • ERD Court decision: On 2014/11/09 it was announced that the Environment, Resources and Development Court of South Australia had approved Stony Gap Wind Farm. No grounds on noise, health, visual amenity or anything else were found to justify stopping the project. The judgement is interesting in what it says about the credibility of witnesses such as Sarah Laurie.
  • The sickening truth about wind farm syndrome; an excellent article in New Scientist by Prof. Simon Chapman (Wind Turbine Syndrome, WTS).
  • Position statement from the Australian Medical Association (AMA)
  • Wind Facts, Dr. David Colby on wind turbines and human health.
  • Barrett, Neil: Getting the Wind Up; on the facts about ill-health 'caused by wind turbines';
    A series of short videos by Neil on how the locals feel about the Waubra Wind Farm; some of them also give their opinions of the Waubra Foundation.
     

    Compilation of conclusions

    Professor Simon Chapman, School of Public Health and Teresa Simonetti, Sydney University Medical School, compiled an extensive list of the main conclusions reached in 17 reviews of the research literature on wind farms and health; all showed no direct link between ill-health and wind turbines.

    Wind turbines cause any sickness you might care to name?

    Professor Chapman and Ms Simonetti also compiled an impressive list of all the ailments claimed to have been caused by wind turbines.

    Feldheim: A hamlet swept by the winds of change

    A story about a small village in Germany that has lots of wind turbines on its door-step. The locals are happy with the turbines, but are fed up with all the visitors.

    UK hospitals to have wind turbines

    An article in The Independent announces that UK hospitals are to be encouraged to install wind power to help reduce emissions. Plainly the UK government is not concerned that the turbines will negatively impact on health.
  • The South Australian Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) produced a report titled "Infrasound levels near windfarms and in other environments" in January 2013.
  • "Climate and Health Alliance is an alliance of stakeholders in the health sector who wish to see the threat of climate change addressed through prompt policy action."
  • The National Health Service of the UK produced a Net page titled 'Are wind farms a health risk?' that discussed Nina Pierpont's research.
  • Youth of the Year quest speech by Anita Butcher, who lives 3km from wind turbines.
  • Wikipedia has an extensive page on the Environmental effects of wind power and a page on Infrasound.
  • An expert panel review of Wind Turbine Sound and Health Effects conducted for the American Wind Energy Association and the Canadian Wind Energy Association is available from the American Wind Energy Association;
  • Doctors for the Environment Australia (DEA) are a group of medical doctors who have pointed out that the health effects of alternatives to wind power are far worse than any from wind turbines.
  • The Canadian equivalent of the DEA is CAPE; Canadian Association of Phisicians for the Environment.
  • 6 Problems with Wind Turbine Syndrome, Skeptoid.com
  • The UK Centre for Sustainable Energy published a document Common concerns about wind power in May 2011.
  • Massachusetts (USA) Dept. of Public Health wind turbine impact study; report by an expert panel, January 2012. Difficult to summarise in a few words, but suggests no direct adverse health effects from turbines.
  • ABC radio interview between Angela Owens and Simon Chapman, Professor of Public Health, University of Sydney, on wind turbines and health.
  • Senate inquiry into The Social and Economic Impact of Rural Wind Farms.
  • A satirical view of epidemic hysterias like 'Wind Turbine Syndrome' on U Tube.
  • A disease in search of a cause: a study of self-citation and press release pronouncement in the factoid of wind farms causing vibroacoustic disease.
  • Mike Barnard; "Wind farms don't make people sick, so why the complaints". Rational explanations and well argued points. Not likely to convince hard-case believers like Laurie and Pierpont, but a good read for those with open minds. Lots of references.
  • History of health and noise complaints; Spatio-temporal differences in the history of health and noise complaints about Australian wind farms: evidence for the psychogenic, "communicated disease" hypothesis. By Chapman, Simon; St.Gerge, Alexis; Waller, Karen; and Cakic, Vince; March 2013.
 
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Health risks from fossil fuels

The Climate and Health Alliance got together with the Public Health Association of Australia to produce a short video on the very real health risks of mining and burning coal and unconventional gas.

Information suggesting annoyance or adverse health effects from wind turbines

Most of the documents below have been prepared at the request of groups opposing wind farm developments. The case for serious adverse health effects (beyond sleep deprivation in a small minority and anxiety) caused by wind turbines is not proven. As mentioned elsewhere, there is a lack of research published in peer-reviewed scientific journals; the references below seem to me to be among the more credible of those available. I thank Sarah Laurie for bringing some of the below to my notice.

Several papers suggesting adverse health effects from wind turbines have been published in a journal called the Bulletin of Science, Technology and Society, but that journal is of very dubious credibility.

Links: Adverse health effects – peer reviewed

To be acceptable to scientists research generally has to be published in reputable peer-reviewed journals.
  • The Bulletin of Science, Technology and Society published a group of papers claiming a link between wind turbines and health in 2011. At the time it was failing as a peer-reviewed journal.
     
    It should be said that there was a very large overlap in the responses of the participants in the Noise and Health study; many subjects living near wind farms had better sleep than many who lived further away. The study's statistical significance seems questionable.
  • Effects of industrial wind turbine noise on sleep and health by Nissenbaum, Michael A.; Aramini, Jeffery J.; Hanning, Christopher D.; published in Noise and Health. The authors stated that study subjects living closer to wind turbines generally had poorer sleep than those living further away. (Also see the box on the right.)
  • Christopher Hanning, British Medical Journal, March 2012 (BMJ 2012;344:e1527). Hanning discused turbine noise, sleep disturbance, and consequent health effects.
  • Pedersen E, Waye KP, Perception and annoyance due to wind turbine noise–a dose-response relationship. Journal Acoustic Soc. Am. 2004. Science Watch rates Journal Acoustic Soc. Am. at an impact factor of 2.98 (2004-2008).
  • "Responses of the ear to low frequency sounds, infrasound and wind turbines" Alec N. Salt, Timothy E. Hullar (Elsevier, Hearing Research (2010), doi: 10.1016/j.heares.2010.06.007). Elsevier claim an impact factor of 2.177 for the Hearing Research journal.

Links: Adverse health effects – not peer reviewed

  • Nina Pierpont's research into wind turbine syndrome. Pierpont did have a few of her peers review her work, then published the favourable reviews; this is not proper peer review.
  • Dr Christopher Hanning:
    "Sleep disturbance and wind turbine noise" on behalf of the Stop Swinford Wind Farm Action Group, dated June 2009. This document can be downloaded from Industrial Wind Action Group.
  • Carl V. Phillips:
    "An Analysis of the Epidemiology and Related Evidence on the Health Effects of Wind Turbines on Local Residents" Wind Action
  • Richard D. Horonjeff:
    "Siting of Wind Turbines With Respect to Noise Emissions and their Health and Welfare Effects on Humans" Wind Action
  • Jerry Punch, Richard James, and Dan Pabst:
    An article in Audiology Today, Jul-Aug 2010, stated that "the low-frequency noise and vibration emitted by wind turbines may have adverse health effects on humans". In late July 2010 this was available here. (This article is flawed from a scientific point of view, and it is questionable whether the journal is peer-reviewed. It has no impact factor that I could find, which makes its standing in the field questionable.)
  •  

    The mass media

    Several media outlets claimed that Cooper's report proved that wind turbines make people sick. The claims were deconstructed on Media Watch, 2015/02/16. Steven Cooper said, on the program, "No, it's not correct... You can't say that noise affects health from this study".

    Due to this media attention I have devoted a page to Mr Cooper's report.

    Acoustician Steven Cooper produced a report on the impact of a wind farm at Cape Bridgewater, Victoria, on six self-selected subjects, in February 2015. Cooper wrote about 'sensations' perceived by the subjects. Of particular interest, it seems about half of the 'sensations' were reported when the wind turbines were not working. For more in Cooper's report I refer readers to a piece written by Jacqui Hoepner and Will J Grant and published in The Conversation in response to the report on 2015/01/22. It was titled "Wind turbine studies: how to sort the good, the bad, and the ugly". (I found Cooper's report unclear in what he was ascribing the 'sensations' to.)

Not specifically relating to wind turbines

Truck drivers subjected to lots of infrasound
A paper by Kawano, A., H. Yamaguchi, and S. Funasaka; 1991; stated...
"Drivers of long distance transport trucks exposed to infrasound at about 115 dB(A) had no statistically significant incidence of fatigue, yawning, sleepiness, vertigo, tinnitus, headache, subdued sensation, hearing impairment, abdominal symptoms, or hypertension when analysed with respect to exposure, work hours, driving hours, and rest hours. 'Exposure to about 115 dBA of infrasound has no effect on humans.'"
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Index

On this page...
AEF confirms link between English and WTS
Anecdotal evidence
Attitude
Australian Medical Association
Blood pressure and turbines
British Acoustics Bulletin
Bulletin of Science Technology and Society
Climate and Health Alliance
Cooper, Steven
Distance and physics
Distance between turbines and houses
Doctors for the Environment Australia
Dose
Environmental causes of illness
Epidemic Hysteria
Factors other than sound
Gag clauses in contracts
Good and bad infrasound?
Health effects relating to noise
Health problems without wind farms
Health research on farm animals
Health risks from fossil fuels - Links
History of health and noise complaints
Human propensity for false beliefs
Impact factor of science publications
The importance of peer-reviewed science literature
Influence of negative oriented personality traits
Infrasound
Introduction
Inverse square law
Irresponsible journalists spread expectation of illness
Is your car making you ill?
Invitation to lie?
Letter from Dr Marjorie Cross
Links
Links: Adverse health effects-peer reviewed
Links: Adverse health effects-not peer reviewed
Links: Health risks from fossil fuels
Links: No adverse health effects-peer reviewed
Links: No adverse health effects-not peer reviewed
Local medical practice near a wind farm
Major components of turbines also in cars
Mechanism: how could turbines make people ill?
NHMRC report of 2010
NHMRC report of 2014
NHMRC report of February 2015
No sickness in WA, Tasmania or Europe
Opinion from clinical psychologist
Pierpont WTS and the Brain
Pierpont research
Psychology, links
Psychosomatic disorder
Recent research
Research into fraud?
Research into human gullibility?
Research into infrasound perception-Crichton
Research into wind turbines and health
Seismic waves from wind turbines
Senate Committee on infrasound
Shadow flicker
Sound, infrasound or pressure pulses?
Sounds are louder in cars than near wind turbines
Survey in Midwest USA
The case against turbines is unconvincing
Top
Turbine noise and sleep disturbance
Turbines and animal health
Two competing theories
Waubra disease
Waubra Foundation
Waubra Foundation partiality
What can harm you from a distance?
What external agencies cause illness?
What research should be done?
Why you should not believe that wind turbines cause illness
Windfarm workers sick leave
Wind Turbines and health
Wind Turbine Syndrome
Wittert, Prof. Gary; research

Key word index

This index concentrates on the one most relevant word. Many subjects cannot be indexed by a single word)...
Alternative
AMA
Anecdotal
Animals 1
Animals 2
Attitude
Car
Cause
Complaints
Contracts
Cooper
Crichton
Cross
Crystal Brook
Delusions
Distance 1
Distance 2
Dose
English
Entertainment
Europe
Flicker
Gag
Gullibility
Health Canada's report
Hypertension
Hysteria
Infrasound
Introduction
Illness 1
Illness 2
Journalists
Leave
Legal
Lies?
Links
Literature 1
Literature 2
Mechanism
Medical Practice
NHMRC 1
NHMRC 2
Noise 1
Noise 2
Noise 3
Peer
Pierpont
Psychologist
Psychology
Psychosomatic
Pierpont
Perception
Personality
Physics
Research 1
Research 2
Research 3
Research 4
Research 5
Research 6
Research 7
Research 8
Research 9
Science 1
Science 2
Sleep
Sound
Survey
Seismic
Senate
Shadow
Sleep
Theories
Top
Unconvincing
Waubra 1
Waubra 2
WTS
Wittert 1
Wittert 2
Workers
Home
Wind home
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Home
Wind home
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