Wind turbines not a threat to human health, another study finds

» By | Published 24 May 2012

EWEA Research Officer Angeliki Koulouri

A new study, published by the Bavarian Environment Agency in Germany, has found that wind turbines do not generate infrasound at a level that would damage human health, backing-up previous studies with similar conclusions.

Wind energy structures generate infrasound which is far below normal human hearing and perception, which is why it cannot cause any damage to people, the study – ‘Wind turbines: does infrasound affect health?’ concludes. Angeliki Koulouri, Research Officer at EWEA, said: “so far, research indicated that infrasound and low frequency sounds from modern wind turbines are well below the level where known health effects occur.”

A separate study, published by the American Wind Energy Association and the Canadian Wind Energy Association in 2009, found that: “there is no evidence that the audible or sub-audible sounds emitted by wind farms have any direct physiological impacts.” Moreover, the study found that ground vibrations from wind turbines are too weak to be detected by humans.

Further supporting these claims, a study commissioned by the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority in New Zealand in 2004 found that the levels of infrasound from wind turbines are inaudible, even at close distances to the turbines. Low-frequency or infrasound from current wind turbine types would not cause any concern for people living close to wind farms, the study concluded.

Meanwhile, wind farms do not emit any of the toxic and often carcinogenic chemicals that are associated with burning fossil fuels. Last year a US group – Physicians for Social Responsibility – released a report on the impacts of coal on the human body. Coal combustion releases carbon dioxide, mercury, particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, sulphur dioxide and dozens of other substances known to be hazardous to human health.

The by-products released by burning coal harm the respiratory system, can trigger cardiovascular effects and impact the nervous system, the study found. Furthermore, “even people who do not develop illness from coal pollutants will find their health and wellbeing impacted due to coal’s contribution to global warming,” the study said, adding that the possible health effects of a warmer planet including heat stroke, malaria, declining food production, scare water supplies, social conflict and starvation.

 

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