Wind Energy and Health
The Common Sense Test
On the internet one can find all find all kinds of claims, like those asserting that pumping billions of tons of greenhouse gases into our air doesn’t affect the climate, despite all of the evidence to the contrary. There are even claims that wind turbines cause health issues. But a quick check reveals these claims cannot stand up to common sense.
Wind turbines have been operating in Hawaii and in the Kahuku area for years and operating on the mainland for decades. No one in Kahuku, or anywhere else in the world, has ever been diagnosed with an illness caused by exposure to wind turbines. And the reason no one has suffered health problems is because wind turbines are simply a variation of the windmill, which has been around for hundreds of years. A blade turned by the wind, whether it’s a child’s pinwheel or a utility-scale wind turbine, does not emit harmful sounds or noises.
If someone is close enough to a wind turbine to hear it, they could find the sound annoying, but annoyance is not an illness. And the distance is so great between the closest Na Pua Makani wind turbine and the houses and buildings used by the people of Kahuku, it will be difficult, If not impossible, for Kahuku residents to hear turbine sounds.
Community Presentation on the Health Impacts of Wind Turbines
In addition to historical firsthand experience, numerous scientific studies conducted by government agencies and independent panels of experts around the world show that wind turbines and wind farms pose no health risks.
One of the more recent studies called the Wind Turbine Health Impact Study was prepared by the Massachusetts Departments of Environmental Safety and Public Health. The report was published in January 2012 and addressed a number of questions regarding wind farms and health, reaching the same conclusion: there is no health risk from wind turbines. Health and Safety issues will be also addressed in the Environmental Impact Statement.
U.S. Research on Wind Energy and Health
In January 2014, the Kahuku community welcomed Robert J. McCunney, MD, MPH, an MIT professor, physician and leading U.S. expert on the topic of wind turbines and health, to present his research on the health impacts of wind turbines. A portion of Dr. McCunney’s presentation summarized the findings of several studies:
- Noise from wind turbines does not pose a risk of hearing loss or any other adverse health effects.
- Sub-audible low frequency noise and infrasound from wind turbines do not present a risk to health.
- Wind Turbine Syndrome is neither a new disease nor an accepted medical diagnosis. Symptoms are simply noise annoyance.
Click here to view Dr. McCunney’s PowerPoint presentation.
Much of the published research on the safety of wind energy facilities has been conducted in Canada. The following information is taken from Canadian research.
The Ontario Citizen’s Coalition for Clean Affordable Energy produced a website featuring scientific data from a variety of sources so the public could learn the difference between facts and myths about wind energy:
The following are excerpts from the Windfacts website (www.windfacts.ca) produced by the Canadian Wind Energy Association, which contains a variety of reliable information about wind energy.
- "Wind energy is one of the safest and most environmentally friendly forms of generating electricity around the world...people in over 90 countries in the world have been living, working and enjoying productive lives near wind farms for more than 30 years."www.windfacts.ca
- "According to the scientific evidence, there isn't any direct causal link between wind turbine noise and adverse health effects"— Dr. Arlene King, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Healthwww.windfacts.ca/your-health
- "In all forms, renewable energy is a safe and healthy alternative to fossil fuels."— Dr.Robert Oliphant, President and CEO of the Asthma Society of Canadawww.windfacts.ca/your-health