Wind farms cause no harm to human health: MIT study

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Keeping the health concerns about wind farms at bay, a recent study conducted by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) revealed that living in close proximity to wind farms does not cause health issues in human beings.

The study was funded by Canadian wind energy association, CanWEA, and the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA); however, they did not contribute for the results, MIT said.

MIT carried out the study independently to verify whether wind turbines cause health issues such as stress, annoyance and sleep disturbance among others as raised by some of the residents staying next to wind turbines.

Read: Construction of huge Ontario wind farm opposed in court

Based on a number of case studies in Europe and the U.S., MIT came to the conclusion that “no clear or consistent association is seen between noise from wind turbines  and any reported disease or other indicator of harm to human health.”

Ardrossan Wind Farm 32
Ardrossan Wind Farm 32

According to MIT, most of the complaints from residents arise during construction of wind farms.  Disturbances caused to homes from the infrasound emitted by wind turbines in operation are typically well below audibility levels.

Four large turbines and 44 smaller turbines were investigated in the Netherlands but infrasound levels were not deemed to cause problems and LFN sound in residential areas did not exceed levels from other common noise sources such as traffic.

While assessing the impact of infrasound from wind farms on the quality of life, MIT came across a case study in Poland that showed that those living next to the wind farms reported the best quality of life and those living further than 1,500 meters scored the worst.

The report thus concludes that wind farms does not harm the human health, but rather they might improve the quality of life in certain conditions.

Commenting on the report, Iván Pineda, head of policy analysis at the European Wind Energy Association, said, “These results should lay to rest any concerns that some citizens may have with regard to living near wind turbines.”

Measurements of low-frequency sound (LFN), infrasound and tonal sound show that infrasound is emitted by wind turbines but disturbances to homes are typically well below audibility levels.

Four large turbines and 44 smaller turbines were investigated in the Netherlands but infrasound levels were not deemed to cause problems and LFN sound in residential areas did not exceed levels from other common noise sources such as traffic.

Rajani Baburajan

[email protected]

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