Wind Turbines and Sound: Separating Myths from Facts

August 11 2016

Wind Turbines and Sound: Separating Myths from Facts

One subject that frequently comes up when we talk about wind energy is sound. Unfortunately there is a lot of misinformation spread on this topic. You may have heard that it will create a new mysterious illness, will hurt you or will kill all the birds. In fact, wind turbines won’t make you ill, and they won’t hurt you. As for birds, nearly everyone who truly cares about wildlife has learned from the overwhelming scientific studies, that climate change is their biggest ‎threat.

The good news is that there is solid, scientific, peer-reviewed research that has examined the claims made around connections between sound from wind turbines and negative health impacts and found them to be false.

A comprehensive study released in January 2012 by the Massachusetts Departments of Environmental Protection and Public Health found that “there is no evidence for a set of health effects, from exposure to wind turbines that could be characterized as a Wind Turbine Syndrome,” and concluded that “the weight of evidence suggests no association between noise from wind turbines and measures of psychological distress or mental problems.”
A study completed by Health Canada also concluded that “no evidence was found to support a link between exposure to wind turbine noise and any of the self-reported illnesses and chronic conditions,” and that “there is no evidence for a set of health effects, from exposure to wind turbines that can be characterized as ‘Wind Turbine Syndrome”’
Not only have credible, peer-reviewed scientific studies consistently demonstrated that there is no connection between sound from wind turbines and human health, complaints from existing wind projects in Vermont have been blown out of proportion by a small but vocal group of anti-renewable activists.

There are three larger-scale wind projects operating in Vermont today, in Sheffield, Lowell and Georgia. Between these projects, there are a total of 239* homes within 1.5 miles of the turbines.

While complaints regarding sound have been made with the Department of Public Service the frequency of those complaints has decreased as turbine operators have identified when it is necessary to shut off the turbines (like during icing events). In fact, GMP has received no complaints about sound from neighbors of KCW in the past year.

This story isn’t just true here in Vermont - hundreds of thousands of people around the world live near and work at operating wind projects without any health effects. Good public policy is based on strong scientific evidence, not myths that are aimed at creating a fear of specific technologies. The fact is that there is no credible science behind the health claims of wind opponents.

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*1.5 miles
• KCW 45 (68 including seasonal)
• Sheffield 30 (54 including seasonal)
• Georgia 164
• Total: 239 (286 including seasonal)
1 mile
• KCW 7 (20 including seasonal)
• Sheffield 6 (28 including seasonal)
• Georgia 103
• Total: 116 (151 including seasonal)

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