Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Do Wind Turbines Really Impact the Health of Nearby Residents?

English: Taken by Neutronic
English: Taken by Neutronic (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today we review research conducted in Denmark, the world’s leader in the use of wind turbines to generate electricity with over 39% of its power generated this way in 2014 and over 5,000 wind turbines located on or offshore. The purpose of the study was to assess the relationship between direct and indirect impacts on health of residents living near the turbines (mean distance to the closest turbine to a house was 2 km). Results indicate no significant relationship with turbine proximity and direct health effects, except for a significant indirect association with wind noise and annoyance, which is one of several “confounding” factors that may be caused other noise sources (such as nearby traffic or indoor odours resulting from less ventilation and fresh air with the windows closed to keep out the noise).

Key Quotes: 

“In Denmark, the world leader in total wind capacity per capita, wind power provided a record of 39.1% of Denmark's electricity consumption in 2014.” “Overall there were 5122 active on- and offshore wind turbines in Denmark. Of these, about 4717 were onshore and about 405 were offshore. A total of 219 on-shore wind turbines were sited in the studied rural regions.” 

"Whether or not wind turbines pose a risk to human health is a matter of heated debate. Personal reactions to other environmental exposures occurring in the same settings as wind turbines may be responsible of the reported symptoms” 

 “Symptoms reported by people who live in close proximity to wind turbines have been idiopathic symptoms, such as sleep disturbance, fatigue, nausea, dizziness, headache, and lack of concentration, as well as annoyance” 

 “After controlling for personal reactions to noise from sources different from wind turbines and agricultural odor exposure, we did not observe a significant relationship between residential proximity to wind turbines and symptoms and the parameter estimates were attenuated toward zero. Wind turbines-health associations can be confounded by personal reactions to other environmental co-exposures. Isolated associations reported in the literature may be due to confounding bias.” 

“The minimum distance between a residence and the closest wind turbine was 167 m and the maximum distance was 8983 m, while the mean and median of the distances to the closest wind turbine were 2052 m and 1712 m, respectively. The maximum number of wind turbines within 1000 m of each residence” 

“In our study we did find a significant association between residential proximity to wind turbines and wind turbine noise annoyance, but annoyance was not further associated with symptoms” 

 “Our study suggests that isolated associations between wind turbines exposures and health outcomes reported in the literature may be partly due to confounding bias”

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