Dear AWEA: There Are Wind Power Nuisance & Health Effects (complaints, studies large and growing)

“The wind industry says there are no independent studies proving the turbines cause health problems.”

Scott McFetridge (Associated Press), “New Rebellion Against Wind Energy Stalls or Stops Projects, February 20, 2018.

In “New Rebellion Against Wind Energy Stalls or Stops Projects,” Scott McFetridge brought national attention to the growing, effective pushback against government-enabled, environmentally degrading 400-foot-high industrial wind turbines.

Some quotations from his article follow (red for emphasis):

  • But when a developer sought to put up dozens more of the 400-foot towers in southern Minnesota, hundreds of people in the heart of wind country … fought back, going door-to-door to alert neighbors and circulating petitions to try to kill the project. They packed county board meetings, hired a lawyer and pleaded their case before state commissions.
  • Although opposition to wind power is nothing new, the residents of Freeborn County are part of a newly invigorated rebellion against the tall turbines. These energized opponents have given fresh momentum to a host of anti-wind ideas and successfully halted projects across the country.
  • Some wind developments are still moving ahead, especially in sparsely populated areas, but the success of opposition groups shows that when residents put up organized opposition, they often win.
  • Much of the opposition is centered in the Midwest, which has the nation’s greatest concentration of turbines. Opponents have banded together to block wind projects in at least half a dozen states, including Nebraska, South Dakota, Indiana and Michigan. Disputes are still being waged in Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois and Maryland. Intense opposition also exists in parts of the Northeast, including Maine, New York and Vermont.
  • For many critics, their opposition starts with a simple disdain for the metal towers that support blades half the length of a football field. They want the views from their kitchen window or deck to be of farmland or hills, not giant wind-harnessing machinery.
  • Others cite grievances that have long circulated on the internet from people living near the towers. They claim the turbines make them dizzy, irritable and unable to sleep. The whooshing noise and vibration from the blades, they say, force them to close windows and blinds and use white noise to mask the mechanical sounds.
  • Still other homeowners fear for their property values, as fewer people will want to buy a home overlooking a wind farm.In Maine, plans to erect turbines atop ridges have outraged people worried about marring the rugged landscape and hurting tourism. The group Friends of Maine’s Mountains has been fighting wind-energy developments in the state Legislature, before regulatory panels and in the courts. It has managed to slow or stop nearly all of the proposals.
  • Heidi Gaston, an obstetrics doctor and one of Dorenne Hansen’s children, built a wrap-around porch specifically to enjoy the view and the silence of southern Minnesota. She and her husband can’t imagine staying in their home if seven turbines are erected within a mile…. “We moved here hoping for a peaceful country setting,” Gaston said. “And that’s certainly not what we’d have.”

The most controversial statement in Scott McFetridge’s article is this:

The wind industry says there are no independent studies proving the turbines cause health problems.

That is a factual matter that can be easily refuted. “There is a long history of acoustic and clinical research into the adverse health effects of noise on health (and sleep), including audible noise, infrasound, low frequency noise and vibration,” according to the Wabra Foundation.

This has informed documents such as the various acoustic standards (e.g. whole body vibration), World Health Organisation (WHO) documents relating to community noise, night time noise and the burden of illness from environmental noise, and Australia’s own EnHealth document of 2004.

An excellent and detailed recent history of the research into wind turbine noise and other sources of infrasound and low frequency noise can be found in Rick James article published in the Bulletin of Science and Technology in 2012, entitled “Warning signs that went unheard”.

Another very useful summary of the knowledge available with respect to what was known about low frequency noise impacts on health ten years ago was a literature review by Professor Geoffrey Leventhall in 2003. Leventhall discusses the known connections between low frequency noise and physiological stress (eg in sleeping children), and acknowledges that if people are removed from the noise they will improve. In the conclusions he also acknowledges the additional stress and distress caused when people affected by noise are not understood by their health care providers.

Finally a brief literature review “Infrasound, a brief toxicological review” from the US National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) in 2001 contains some useful animal and human research which clearly indicate there is animal research evidence of physiological stress effects and damage to tissue including heart muscle, with exposure to acute high ‘doses’ of infrasound.

But there is still much research to be done to get the facts and advance the debate. Concludes the Waubra Foundation:

What is less clear is the effect of chronic exposure to lower doses of infrasound, as there appears to be almost no research data in the public domain examining this issue in either animals or humans. However there is one study in the NIEHS infrasound literature review (#58 by Dadali et al on page 25) investigating chronic exposure of two groups of rats to infrasound at 100 dB of 8 Hz for 3 hours per day for 60 days. One group was given antioxidants, and their organ damage was less than those rats in the control group.

Regarding peer review studies, for example, consult “Literature Review 2013: Association between Wind Turbine Noise and Human Distress.”

 

The post Dear AWEA: There Are Wind Power Nuisance & Health Effects (complaints, studies large and growing) appeared first on Master Resource.

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March 2, 2018 at 01:07AM

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