Two new studies from Australian and New Zealand researchers on wind farm and health effects were released in March, adding to a growing body of evidence that shows wind farms pose no threat to human health. The first study, conducted by the University of Auckland and published by the American Psychological Association, considered the idea that health complaints from wind farms could be caused by an increase in discussion and awareness of health risk, rather than actual infrasound. The study tested whether exposure to the anti-wind farm health effects campaign could create a ‘symptom expectation’ and then actual symptoms in healthy volunteers.
The study exposed 60 participants to ten minutes of infrasound and ten minutes of sham infrasound. Prior to exposure, half of the volunteers were given information that indicated wind farms could cause negative health effects, and the other half were given information on the scientific position that wind farm infrasound does not affect human health.
Before and during the sound exposure, both groups reported their health symptoms. Results showed that the group that had viewed information on negative health effects and therefore expected to feel ill did experience symptoms of illness, while the other group did not.
The second study, by University of Sydney Professor of Public Health Simon Chapman, undertook a historical audit of all complaints made about wind farm noise or health problems on all of Australia’s 49 wind farms.
The study found that while there are some 32,677 people living within 5 kilometres of a wind farm in Australia, just 120 – or one in 272 – of them have ever made a formal complaint, appeared in a news report or sent a complaining submission to government.
The study also found that some complainants took many years to voice their first complaint, when wind farm opponents regularly warn that the ill effects can be almost instant.
Professor Chapman's study supports the findings from the University of Auckland that anxiety and fear about wind turbines being spread by anti-wind farm groups can cause some people who hear the frightening information to develop symptoms.
Both reports attracted a lot of media attention.
Click here to download the University of Auckland study.
Click here to download the University of Sydney study.
- New fact sheet on wind farms and health
The CEC has also just completed a brand new fact sheet on wind farms and health, which is available online at cleanenergycouncil.org.au/resourcecentre/factsheets (at the bottom of the page).
The fact sheet provides a good overview of the available evidence that shows there is no direct link between wind farms and health effects.
- New infrasound report
The South Australian Environment Protection Agency (EPA) released a report on wind farms and infrasound in January, and the results were good news for the wind industry. The report measured levels of infrasound at several locations, including rural and urban areas and inside and outside people's homes, and the results showed that the levels of infrasound measured were "insignificant in comparison with the background level of infrasound in the environment".
The report is available at:http://www.epa.sa.gov.au/environmental_info/noise/wind_farms