Wind turbines do not affect human health, study finds

» By | Published 27 Aug 2010

Wind turbines can adversely affect human health, or so the press and various reports claim from time to time. From noise to shadow flicker affects when it’s bright outside, wind farms have been subject to criticism from those who claim turbines have a negative impact on human health. These arguments are then absorbed and spread by anti-wind groups. But do these claims have any scientific evidence to support them?

A new study published by the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council thinks not. “There is currently no published scientific evidence to positively link wind turbines with adverse health effects,” it says on its website. Even the World Health Organisation (WHO) says there is no “reliable” evidence to support the claim that turbines have a negative effect, according to the study.

Interestingly, the study reports that a ten-turbine wind farm is less noisy than a car travelling at 64kph, or the level of noise in a busy office. The noise levels from a wind farm are “negligible – that is they appear to be no different to that found in other everyday situations”, the study notes.
Another complaint against turbines is that sun rays reflected off the surface of a turbine causes a potentially dangerous glint. Contradicting this claim, the study says: “All major wind turbine blade manufacturers coat their blades with a low reflectivity treatment…the risk of blade glint from modern wind turbines is considered to be very low”.

Stand near a fossil fuel power station belching its poisonous fumes into the air, and the shadow flicker, noise and other arguments pale into insignificance. The WHO backs this: In 2004 it said “wind energy is associated with fewer health effects than other forms of traditional energy generation and in fact will have positive health benefits”.

Compared to fossil fuels, what cleaner fuel is there than the wind?

The study was also reported in this week’s The Economist in a very balanced article on wind energy.

What do you think about wind power and health impacts? Post your comments below.

Categories: Climate change