Independent panel finds wind turbines affect health
An expert panel has found that wind turbines cause enough annoyance to those who live near them as to constitute a health effect.
The report entitled “Assessing the Evidence: Wind Turbine Noise,” was released by the Council of Canadian Academies. The council is a not-for-profit organization supported by a $30-million endowment from the Canadian government to provide “independent, authoritative, and evidence-based expert assessments that inform public policy development in Canada.”
Given the increase in wind farm developments and the concerns they raise for local residents, Health Canada asked the council to conduct the in-depth expert panel assessment. The resulting study released on April 9 examined 32 potential adverse health effects.
The study found that there was not enough evidence to draw a direct link between wind turbine noise and negative health effects. At the same time it found: “there is sufficient evidence of a causal relationship between exposure to such noise and annoyance.”
The panel, with Dr. Tee Guidotti as chair, stressed that further information and study are required. However the main findings in the report were:
- The evidence is sufficient to establish a causal relationship between exposure to wind turbine noise and annoyance.
- There is limited evidence to establish a causal relationship between exposure to wind turbine noise and sleep disturbance.
- The evidence suggests a lack of causality between exposure to wind turbine noise and hearing loss.
- For all other health effects considered (fatigue, tinnitus, vertigo, nausea, dizziness, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, etc.), the evidence was inadequate to come to any conclusion about the presence or absence of a causal relationship with exposure to wind turbine noise.
- Technological development is unlikely to resolve, in the short term, the current issues related to perceived adverse health effects of wind turbine noise.
- Impact assessments and community engagement provide communities with greater knowledge and control over wind energy projects and therefore help limit annoyance.
To download a copy of the Panel’s report, visit the Council of Canadian Academies’ website, www.scienceadvice.ca
The Council of Canadian Academies began operating in 2005. Its assessments are conducted by independent, multidisciplinary panels of experts from across Canada and abroad. Panel members serve free of charge and many are fellows of the council.
The Government of Canada can refer up to five questions per year to the council for assessment. Its work encompasses the natural, social and health sciences as well as engineering and the humanities.
To download a copy of the Panel’s report, click here