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article imageTwo studies on effect of wind turbines on health released in Jan.

By Ken Wightman     Jan 18, 2012 in Health
An independent panel of experts in Massachusetts has released a report on the health hazards posed by wind turbines. Although the panel found no conclusive evidence of serious health problems, their findings left the door open for further research.
The panel, convened by the Massachusetts Department of Environment in collaboration with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, was composed of doctors and scientists, all experts in appropriate, related fields. They found:
There is no evidence for "Wind Turbine Syndrome" — defined as a number of health issues resulting from exposure to wind turbines.
There is no scientific evidence that wind turbine produced infra-sound, sound outside the range of human hearing, affects the human balance system.
None of the evidence, still somewhat limited, reviewed by the panel indicates an association between noise from wind turbines and pain and stiffness, diabetes, high blood pressure, tinnitus, hearing impairment, cardiovascular disease, and headache/migraine attacks.
There is no evidence the flickering shadows cast by rotating turbine blades pose a risk of causing seizures. The panel admitted, that after more than 30 minutes, the flicker could be annoying, with the potential to cause "transitory cognitive and physical health effects." The mention of possible brief cognitive and physical health effects will surely raise red flags among those opposed to wind power.
Although the panel found the weight of evidence suggests no association between turbines noise and psychological distress or other mental health problems. They did admit the whooshing sound from the rotating blades may be annoying, and that annoyance may be related to the mere sight of the wind turbines.
The panel also admitted the sound of the wind turbines may disrupt sleep and adversely affect mood, cognitive functioning, and overall sense of health and well-being.
Massachusetts DEP Commissioner Kenneth Kimmell said, "It is extremely important that we have the best science available to us as we make decisions on wind energy."
Two massive wind turbines tower above a highway winding its way through the hills of the Columbia Ri...
Two massive wind turbines tower above a highway winding its way through the hills of the Columbia River Valley in Oregon. The two are part of an extensive wind farm presence that many residents credit with bringing much needed investment and employment to the mainly rural area.
The Massachusetts findings are coming fast on the heels of a report released by the Oregon Public Health Authority earlier this month.
The Oregon report found "evidence that wind turbine sound is more noticeable, annoying and disturbing than other" sounds at the same level of loudness. This is perhaps because the swooshing noise fluctuates in intensity and tone and this is more annoying than a steady or constant noise or hum. Also, unlike many other community sounds, the noise from wind turbines does not decrease predictably at night. This can disrupt the sleep of those living nearby.
Bolstering the objections of those opposed to wind power installations near residential areas, the Oregon report said noise linked to sleep disturbance, annoyance and stress can increase risks for cardiovascular disease, decrease immune function and increase risk of endocrine disorders, mental illness, and other effects.
Both reports are sure to be controversial. As part of a 60-day comment period, three public meetings are slated for February in Massachusetts. The Public Health Division in Oregon, bracing itself for a large volume of comments, is accepting public input until March 30th.
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