Independent Expert Panel Finds Wind Turbines Pose No Health Risk

Following the release of a report by an independent expert panel that was tasked by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) to review potential health concerns related to wind turbines, Renewable Energy New England’s Executive Director, Francis Pullaro, remarked, “The report discredits common criticism about wind turbine produced sound that is brought by opponents of wind generation development. With wind projects held to a higher standard for siting in Massachusetts than traditional fossil fuel generators, RENEW hopes this study will inform policymakers that more efficient regulations on wind energy projects are appropriate. Wind power is a source of energy that will enable New England to its meet renewable energy goals cost effectively and reduce its reliance on air polluting power plants. RENEW will be reviewing the report more closely and will submit detailed comments during the public comment period.”

Last year, the DEP and DPH convened a panel of independent academic experts with backgrounds in public health, epidemiology, toxicology, neurology and sleep medicine, neuroscience, and mechanical engineering to analyze “the biological plausibility or basis for health effects of turbines (noise, vibration, and flicker).” The review of existing studies included both peer-reviewed and non-peer reviewed literature.

Among the key findings of the panel are:

• There is no evidence for a set of health effects, from exposure to wind turbines that could be characterized as “Wind Turbine Syndrome.”
• Claims that infrasound from wind turbines directly impacts the vestibular system have not been demonstrated scientifically. Available evidence shows that the infrasound levels near wind turbines cannot impact the vestibular system.
• The strongest epidemiological study suggests that there is not an association between noise from wind turbines and measures of psychological distress or mental health.
• None of the limited epidemiological evidence reviewed suggests an association between noise from wind turbines and pain and stiffness, diabetes, high blood pressure, tinnitus, hearing impairment, cardiovascular disease, and headache/migraine.
• Scientific evidence suggests that shadow flicker does not pose a risk for eliciting seizures as a result of photic stimulation.