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The so-called wind turbine syndrome has received quite a bit of attention of late. For example, on How Stuff Works:

Until recently, there were three main issues regarding the possible downsides of wind power: bird and­ bat deaths, cost, and disrupting the appearance of natural landscapes. But a new objection to wind power has popped up in the past few years, resting on the research of a few scientists. The latest argument states that wind power endangers the health of people who live near windmills. Some people call this theory "wind-turbine syndrome." Although the extent of the phenomenon is unknown, there does seem to be something to it.

The explanation includes harm from infrasound and noise-related sleep loss, as discussed here:

It's understood that some people who live in close proximity to wind turbines experience sleep disturbances, headaches and concentration problems. These symptoms and others could be explained as the effects of infrasound as well as constant humming and vibrations.

Others argue that there is no evidence of any harm, for example:

A study, Wind Turbine Sound and Health Effects, was conducted in 2009 by a panel of medical professionals from the US, Canada, Denmark, and UK. The study concluded, “There is no evidence that the audible or sub-audible sounds [including infrasound] emitted by wind turbines have any direct adverse physiological effects.”

A new study published by the Bavarian Environment Agency in Germany in 2012 has concluded similarly to the previous. The study – ‘Wind turbines: does infrasound affect health?’ concludes that wind turbines do not generate infrasound at a level that would damage human health. Wind energy structures generate infrasound that is far below normal human hearing and perception; this is why it does not cause any damage to people.

Is there any merit to the complaint that wind turbines harm health?

  • Claimed syndrome given publicity by US President Trump on 3 April 2019: “they say the noise causes cancer, you tell me that one, okay?" news.sky.com/story/… – A E Apr 4 at 17:11
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Wind turbines are perfectly safe for Humans.

You your self brought two credible sources. And there is this article by

Simon Chapman is professor of public health at the University of Sydney. He has no financial associations with any wind energy company.

who references the British Acoustics Bulletin:

The British Acoustics Bulletin has just published what is now the 10th independent review of the evidence on wind farms causing annoyance and ill health in people. And for the 10th time it has emphasised that annoyance has far more to do with social and psychological factors in those complaining than any direct effect from sound or inaudible infrasound emanating from wind turbines.

A few extracts give the flavour: "the degree of annoyance is only slightly related to noise level"; "the fact that someone was complaining was mainly determined by the personality of the individual"; "fear of the noise source can increase annoyance"; and "adverse feelings . . . were influenced by feelings of lacking control, being subjected to injustice, lacking influence, and not being believed".

Two factors repeatedly stand out. The first is being able to see wind turbines, which increases annoyance particularly in those who dislike or fear them.

The second factor is whether people derive income from hosting turbines, which miraculously appears to be a highly effective antidote to feelings of annoyance and symptoms.

And

Complaining about wind farms appears confined largely to parts of Australia, Canada, the US, Britain and New Zealand. And these complaints have accelerated in the past five years, despite turbines having been operational in many locations for more than 20 years.

This contagious "wind turbine syndrome" - a condition not recognised by any international disease classification system and which appears not once in any title or abstract in the massive US National Library of Medicine's PubMed database - appears to be spread by the vector of anti-wind farm activist groups.

Also, from here

the South Australia's Environment Protection Authority has released a report showing infrasound levels at homes near wind turbines is no greater than what is experienced elsewhere.

The study can be read here, and a direct quote from it:

It is clear from the results that the infrasound levels measured at the two residential locations near wind farms (Location 8 near the Bluff Wind Farm and Location 9 near Clements Gap Wind Farm) are within the range of infrasound levels measured at comparable locations away from wind farms. Of particular note, the results at one of the houses near a wind farm (Location 8) are the lowest infrasound levels measured at any of the 11 locations included in this study.

This study concludes that the level of infrasound at houses near the wind turbines assessed is no greater than that experienced in other urban and rural environments, and that the contribution of wind turbines to the measured infrasound levels is insignificant in comparison with the background level of infrasound in the environment.

  • 1
    According to this article nuclear power is still safer, so your claim that wind turbines are perfectly safe for humans is false. – Cees Timmerman Mar 12 '15 at 13:02
1

This issue is currently being debated in Denmark.

There are some possible [1] health risks regarding low-frequency sounds generated by wind turbines. (Possible meaning that there is no scientific report yet to prove a casual link between symptoms reported by the neighbours to big wind turbines and the generated noise).

(More references can be found at the last page of the petition [2] made by Danish Society for Work and Environment medicine (sorry for the bad translation - in Danish its: "Dansk Selskab for Arbejds- og Miljømedicin") - in which they ask the goverment for more inquiry into the official noise-limits that are deemed as "safe" for people. )

It seems that the noise-problem is related to the big wind-turbines (2MW+) that produce more low-frequency sounds then smaller turbines. We are talking about frequencies from 20 to 200 Hz. Those are the frequencies that most houses are not sufficiently insulated from. If the level exceeds 20 dB(A) (inside the house) it can induce several (stress-related) symptoms [3][4]:

  • headaches
  • dizziness
  • nausea
  • palpitations
  • irritability
  • concentration problems
  • memory problems
  • other symptoms, like irregularities in female menstrual cycle, etc.

Note that the sound level above the safety threshold are only seen in houses less then 3KM from BIG wind turbines.

There is currently a report contracted by the Danish ministry of Health [5]. (I will update this answer when there are any new developments in the matter).


Sources:

  1. http://www.ft.dk/samling/20101/almdel/epu/bilag/227/987243.pdf - a report made for Danish Health Ministry for the Danish Parliment - in Danish

  2. http://www.dr.dk/NR/rdonlyres/909F351F-914A-4F21-869F-35CA11143EF6/3729341/Dasam_hoeringssvarvindmoellernov2011.pdf (in Danish)

  3. http://foens.dk/megamoeller/?page_id=77 (in Danish)

  4. Wind Turbine syndrom: a book by Nina Pierpont MD, ph.d

  5. (Danish) http://www.tvsyd.dk/artikel/205008:Er-vindmoeller-sundhedsskadelige?

  • 3
    It is difficult to assess these "confirmed" risks from these documents. Have you examined any of the source documents, or (better) any peer-reviewed meta-analysis evaluating the claims? – Oddthinking Aug 4 '13 at 8:42
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    You have misrepresented your first linked source. Please don't do that. The summary explicitly states that the evidence does not support a causal link from turbine noise to direct health effects. – EnergyNumbers Aug 4 '13 at 11:00
  • @EnergyNumbers : I corrected the description on the first source - the report was made for danish health ministry and not BY them. The mistake can be categorized as "lost in translation". – Mr MT Aug 6 '13 at 23:53
  • Generally - my answer was primarly a reaction to the prior answer to this question stating that "wind turbines are perfectly safe for humans". I would say that such a claim cannot be made (based on current developments). – Mr MT Aug 7 '13 at 0:16
  • According to this article wind is second only to nuclear power in least deaths per trillion kWhrs produced. – Cees Timmerman Jan 20 '15 at 18:50

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