Wind energy is environmentally-friendly, affordable, and benefits our communities. Studies also show it is a safe way to generate electricity.
Facts about wind energy and your health
- A growing number of scientific, medical, and acoustical experts have studied wind turbines and health around the world and authored more than 25 comprehensive reviews on the potential health effects. The balance of scientific evidence and human experience to date clearly concludes that wind turbines are not harmful to human health. In fact, wind energy provides electricity without emitting greenhouse gases or air pollutants, and uses no freshwater to generate electricity – creating a healthier environment for people and wildlife.
- A review of 60 research studies conducted worldwide on wind turbines and human health was published in the Frontiers in Public Health in June 2014 and the authors concluded that the weight of evidence suggests that when sited properly, wind turbines are not related to adverse health effects in humans though they may be source of annoyance for some people.
- A recent report by the Iowa Environmental Council (IEC) found no evidence to support claims of health problems caused by wind turbines. “With the rapid expansion of wind energy, some neighbors to wind turbines have claimed the sound has affected their health. While - to some - the sound might be annoying, research studies have established no adverse health effects,” said Peter Thorne, a professor and head of the University of Iowa Department of Occupational and Environmental Health. A link to the report can be found on the IEC website.
- The global wind industry collectively continues to engage with experts in science, medicine and occupational and environmental health to monitor ongoing credible research in the area of wind turbines and human health.
For your convenience: a printer-friendly version of CanWEA’s Wind Energy and Your Health one-pager.
Facts about sound levels from wind turbines
- A Health Canada study published in 2014 found that wind turbine noise exposure was not associated with self-reported medical illnesses and health conditions.
- Wind energy developers in Canada follow regulations for wind facilities that are administered by provincial governments. They also follow the best practices developed by the wind energy industry. This is in the interest of wind developers, who must meet the stringent requirements designed by regulators to protect communities from noise for their project to be approved.
- Wind energy developers first rely on wind turbine manufacturers to provide data about the sound levels the wind turbine will produce during operations. Next, the developer uses the noise calculations and measurements within the context of the development area to optimize turbine layouts and to minimize sound levels for residents. Once the turbines are operational, sound audits are conducted to measure turbine sounds (ensuring they meet manufacturers’ sound specifications), and to measure sound levels at nearby residences.
For your convenience: a printer-friendly version of CanWEA’s Sound Levels from Wind Turbines one-pager.
Read more credible findings by experts in science, medicine and occupational and environmental health
- A 2020 study by Finnish Government’s Analysis, Assessment and Research Activities (VN TEAS) explored potential adverse health effects of wind turbine infrasound. The study found no evidence of health effects from wind turbine infrasound and any suspected symptoms were found to have not been caused by exposure to infrasound. This study increased scientists understanding of wind energy sound inside various dwellings at different times of year. The project began in August 2018 and will conclude when the final report is published by June of 2020.
- Wind Turbines and Health: A Critical Review of the Scientific Literature is a report commissioned through the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) that provides a comprehensive and multidisciplinary review of scientific literature on wind turbines and human health.
- Wind Turbine Sound and Health Effects: An Expert Panel Review (Executive Summary) to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health found that “there is nothing unique about the sounds and vibrations emitted by wind turbines” and that “there is no evidence that the audible or sub-audible sounds emitted by wind turbines have any direct adverse physiological effects”.
- Study results by Simon Chapman, professor of public health at Sydney University, suggest that health problems attributed to wind energy are a ”communicated disease” – or a sickness spread by the suggestion that something is likely to make a person sick. This is caused by the ”nocebo effect” – the opposite of the placebo effect – in which the belief that something can cause an illness creates the perception of illness. Read summary of main conclusions here.
- In 17 Canadian separate hearings, “courts found that wind farms would not and do not cause health impacts,” says a review by the Energy & Policy Institute.
- The Quebec National Institute of Public Health issued a report on wind turbines and public health (French only) which concluded that “wind turbine generated infrasound does not seem to be of sufficient intensity to cause health problems or annoyance”. CanWEA translated the key conclusions and recommendations from the report