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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Scientists see no basis for turbine ‘infrasound’ health problems

From an article by Jim Dulzo on the Web site of Michigan Land Use Institute:

. . . when they could not find an independent organization willing to underwrite such a study, they paid for it themselves. AWEA [American Wind Energy Association] and CanWEA [Canada Wind Energy Associaiton] assembled eight scientists and doctors to survey the available scientific literature on the known health effects of living near wind turbines.

Collectively, the eight have strong research or clinical experience in public health, otolaryngology, noise-induced hearing loss, balance and hearing disorders, clinical medicine, audiology, infrasound acoustics, industrial sound pathology, wind and turbine physics, and turbine sound measurement and siting.

Their review of 140 different studies and papers issued in 2009, largely from Europe, where wind farms are common and located quite close to residential areas, is called Wind Turbine Sound and Health Effects; An Expert Panel Review.

The panel points out that the environment and our bodies are awash in infrasound, much of it naturally occurring. It finds Dr. Pierpont’s list of maladies too poorly characterized to be medically useful. It finds a markedly stronger correlation between subjects’ claimed turbine syndrome symptoms and their initial attitudes toward turbines than between their symptoms and their level of exposure to turbine sounds.

Windpower opponents quickly attacked the industry funded findings as biased, something that Mike Klepinger, who formerly worked at Michigan State University Extension Service, where he wrote the agency’s wind turbine siting guidelines, says is not surprising.

“Of course, whenever you invite industry into a panel, the whole panel becomes suspect,” Mr. Klepinger said in an interview with Great Lakes Bulletin News Service. “They say, ‘It couldn’t possibly be operating scientifically.’ But you look at the who’s who on the [panel] list, and you kind of have to give the industry an A-plus for trying to make the panel objective.”

Their three major conclusions:

  •  “There is no evidence that the audible or sub-audible sounds emitted by wind turbines have any direct adverse physiological effects.
  • “The ground-borne vibrations from wind turbines are too weak to be detected by, or to affect, humans.
  • “The sounds emitted by wind turbines are not unique. There is no reason to believe, based on the levels and frequencies of the sounds and the panel’s experience with sound exposures in occupational settings, that sounds from wind turbines could plausibly have direct adverse health consequences.”

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