Wind Energy Studies and Reports

 

1.Title: Wind Turbine Health Impact Study: Report of Independent Expert Panel January 2012
Prepared for: Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection - Massachusetts Department of Public Health
Authors:  The Panel consists of seven individuals with backgrounds in public health, epidemiology, toxicology, neurology and sleep medicine, neuroscience, and mechanical engineering. All of the Panel members are considered independent experts from academic institutions.
 
Jeffrey M. Ellenbogen, MD; MMSc Assistant Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School Division Chief, Sleep Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital
Sheryl Grace, PhD; MS Aerospace & Mechanical Engineering Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Boston University
Wendy J Heiger-Bernays, PhD Associate Professor of Environmental Health, Department of Environmental Health, Boston University School of Public Health Chair, Lexington Board of Health
James F. Manwell, PhD Mechanical Engineering; MS Electrical & Computer Engineering; BA Biophysics Professor and Director of the Wind Energy Center, Department of Mechanical & Industrial Engineering University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Dora Anne Mills, MD, MPH, FAAP State Health Officer, Maine 1996–2011, Vice President for Clinical Affairs, University of New England
Kimberly A. Sullivan, PhD Research Assistant Professor of Environmental Health, Department of Environmental Health, Boston University School of Public Health
Marc G. Weisskopf, ScD Epidemiology; PhD Neuroscience, Associate Professor of Environmental Health and Epidemiology, Department of Environmental Health & Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health
 
Scope of Study: Identify any scientifically documented or potential connection between health and impacts associated with wind energy turbines. 
 
Highlights:
There is no evidence for a set of health effects, from exposure to wind turbines that could be characterized as a "Wind Turbine Syndrome."
 
Typically, at distances larger than 400 m, sound pressure levels for modern wind turbines are less than 40 dB(A), which is below the level associated with annoyance in the epidemiological studies reviewed.
 
Available evidence shows that the infrasound levels near wind turbines cannot impact the vestibular system.
 
 
2. Title: The Real Truth About Wind Energy - A Literature Based Introduction to Wind Turbines in Ontario - August 18, 2011
Prepared for: Sierra Club Canada
Authors: Alexandra Gadawski and Greg Lynch, Staff of Sierra Club of Canada
 
Scope of Study: General literature review of all available science and cost-benefit analysis of wind farms in Ontario.
 
Highlights and Conclusions:
After a thorough review of the science we are confident in saying there is no evidence of significant health effects that should prevent the further development and implementation of wind turbines, wind farms and wind energy. In fact, the further development of wind energy as a growing portion of our energy supply will reduce direct carbon emissions, improve the quality of the air we breathe, and generally improve the health and well-being of Canadians, our families and the environment in which we live.
 
 
3. Title: Energy, Sustainable Development and Health - Background document for the World Health Organization 2004
Prepared for: World Health Organization - Fourth Ministerial Conference on Environment and Health 2004
Authors:  World Health Organization staff with academic advisors from World Bank, Bath University, Russian Academy of Sciences, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Imperial College London, University College London, Australian National University. 
 
Scope: To review the effects on health of all aspects of energy, access to it, and production thereof. The report includes health impacts of all forms of energy and places these in global context.
 
Highlights:
The ExternE Project considered wind energy to have the lowest level of impacts (health and environmental), of all the fuel cycles considered (CIEMAT 1998). For example, in Germany, the health impacts are 10% of those from coal per terawatt hour of electricity production. Clearly, these up-stream processes are dominant since no pollutants are emitted during power generation.
 
Although many factors influence energy policies, health considerations would favour a substantial increase in the contribution from renewable sources, especially those based on non-combustion processes.
 
 
4. Title: The Potential Health Impact of Wind Turbines 2010
Prepared for: Ontario Agency for Health Protection and Promotion
Author: Dr. Arlene King, Chief Medical Officer of Health for Ontario, past Director General of the Centre for Immunization and Respiratory Infections Diseases at the Public Health Agency of Canada,  Adjunct Professor in the School of Population and Public Health at UBC
 
Scope: To study the scientific evidence on the health impacts of wind turbines, assess setbacks, identify data gaps.
 
Highlights:
The sound level from wind turbines at common residential setbacks is not sufficient to cause hearing impairment or other direct adverse health effects. However, some people might find it annoying. It has been suggested that annoyance may be a reaction to the characteristic “swishing” or fluctuating nature of wind turbine sound rather than to the intensity of sound.
 
Low frequency sound and infrasound from current generation upwind model turbines are well below the pressure sound levels at which known health effects occur. Further, there is no scientific evidence to date that vibration from low frequency wind turbine noise causes adverse health effects.
 
 
5. Title: Land-based Wind Energy: A Guide to Understanding the Issues and Making Informed Decisions June 2011
Prepared for:  Conservation Law Foundation, Massachusetts Audubon Chapter, and Massachusetts Clean Energy Center
Authors: Staff of CLF Ventures. Reviewed by Dr. Jonathan Raab Ph.D. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
 
Scope: This guide provides an overview of reasons to consider wind turbines as part of the energy infrastructure, explores questions councils may need to consider when addressing the costs and benefits of specific projects, and gives practical guidance to public consultation and collaborative feedback.
 
Highlights:
Recognizing the serious threat of global climate change to birds and wildlife worldwide and the role of wind power to help mitigate climate change, some national and state bird, bat, and wildlife conservation organizations have issued statements of support for responsibly-sited wind power projects that seek to minimize negative impacts on birds and wildlife.
 
 
6. Title: Electricity Generation and Health, The Lancet Journal, September 2007
Prepared for: The Lancet Medical Journal
Authors: Prof Anil Markandya PhD, University of Bath & Paul Wilkinson FRCP, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, UK
 
Scope:  Cost-benefit analysis of the provision of electricity and various modes of its generation.
 
Highlights:
Population health will substantially benefit from improved access to electricity and from modal switch away from fossil fuels towards renewable sources of electricity generation where possible. The case for such switching cannot be judged purely on traditional cost-effectiveness comparisons of current technology , since investment in renewable sources and increases in volume of production should bring cost efficiencies to newer (often the renewable) technologies; moreover, the cost-benefit equation is more favourable to renewable technologies where proper account can be taken of environmental and health effects.
 
 
7. Title: Wind Energy Power Plants (Wind Farms) Review and Analysis 2010
Prepared for:  Town of Wasaga Beach Council and McMaster University Institute of Environment and Health
Authors: K. Bruce Newbold Ph.D., Director - McMaster Institute of Environment and Health
Marie McKeary, Researcher - McMaster Institute of Environment and Health
 
Scope: Examine the issues surrounding wind energy generation, through an examination of the expressed concerns and the current evidence to be found in the scientific literature. Authors offer little of their own analysis, but provide a very thorough review of existing literature. Includes guidance on best practices in community consultation.
 
Highlights:
There are a number of critical themes identified in the literature including: 1) community acceptance is based primarily on procedural legitimacy in siting decisions. Thus the process of and speed of development must offer avenues for the involvement of the community. Developers must be open and responsive to community concerns from the initial planning phase through to the completion of the project.
 
 
8. Title: Health & Safety Impacts from Large-Scale Wind Turbines - May 2012
Prepared for: Municipality of the County of Kings
Authors: Janis Rod, ALM, P.Eng. and Wendy Heiger-Bernays, Ph.D.
 
Scope: Prepare report regarding health and safety risks of wind turbine installations, as well as advise on relevant research to guide local decision-makers regarding wind turbine legislation and policy.
 
Highlights:
While some of the health impacts are direct, many of the reported health impacts are indirect via annoyance. While this term, annoyance, may be a cause for controversy for some, it is widely used in the literature and regulatory bodies, including Health Canada. As degree of annoyance is highly influenced by perception of the resident on the wind energy project, the importance of stakeholder engagement cannot be over emphasized.
 
 
9. Title: Wind Farms Technical Paper: Environmental Noise - November 2010
Prepared for:  Clean Energy Council, Southbank, Australia
Authors:  Chris Turnbull M.Eng.Sc., B.E. (Mech) (Hons) MAAS, Sonus Consulting
 
Scope:  To provide the latest information to communities, developers, planning and enforcement authorities and other stakeholders on environmental noise from wind farms. Includes explanation of sound/noise characteristics associated with a wind farm and a summary of research conducted into health impacts such as sleep disturbance.
 
Highlights:
There is detailed and extensive research and evidence that indicates that the noise from wind farms developed and operated in accordance with the current Standards and Guidelines will not have any direct adverse health effects.
 
Virtually all processes generate noise, including wind farms. The response to noise by individuals can be wide and varied. Noise is often the most important factor in determining the separation distance between wind turbines and sensitive receivers. The assessment of noise therefore plays a significant role in determining the viability of and the size of wind farms.
 
 
10. Title: Smart Generation - Powering Ontario with Renewable Energy 2004
Prepared for: n/a
Authors: the David Suzuki Foundation
 
Scope: To help inform the ongoing decision-making process, this report summarizes the potential of the most salient renewable options available in Ontario: wind, hydropower, biomass, solar, and ground heat and makes policy recommendations.
 
Highlights:
The benefits of using wind for electricity generation are numerous. Wind energy creates new jobs, offsets emissions from fossil-fired power plants, offsets external costs, provides net positive energy balance, stimulates new economic development, notably in rural areas, enhances security of electricity supply, and provides electricity price security.
 
 
11. Title: Health effects and wind turbines: A review of the literature 2011
Prepared for: Environmental Health Journal
Authors:  Loren D Knopper Ph.D. Biology, and Christopher A Ollson Ph.D., QPRA
 
Scope: The purpose of this paper is to review the peer-reviewed scientific literature, government agency reports, and the most prominent information found in the popular literature.
 
Highlights:
To date, no peer reviewed articles demonstrate a direct causal link between people living in proximity to modern wind turbines, the noise they emit and resulting physiological health effects. If anything, reported health effects are likely attributed to a number of environmental stressors that result in an annoyed/stressed state in a segment of the population. In the popular literature, self-reported health outcomes are related to distance from turbines and the claim is made that infrasound is the causative factor for the reported effects, even though sound pressure levels are not measured.
 
While it is acknowledged that noise from wind turbines can be annoying to some and associated with some reported health effects (e.g., sleep disturbance), especially when found at sound pressure levels greater than 40 db(A), given that annoyance appears to be more strongly related to visual cues and attitude than to noise itself, self reported health effects of people living near wind turbines are more likely attributed to physical manifestation from an annoyed state than from wind turbines themselves. In other words, it appears that it is the change in the environment that is associated with reported health effects and not a turbine-specific variable like audible noise or infrasound.
 
 
12. Title: Coal’s Assault on Human Health - November 2009
Prepared for: Physicians for Social Responsibility
Authors: Alan H. Lockwood, MD FAAN, Kristen Welker-Hood, ScD MSN RN, Molly Rauch, MPH, Barbara Gottlieb
 
Scope: In describing the health effects of coal combustion, this report utilizes an organ-system approach rather than a pollutant-based review. By considering coal’s impact on the respiratory system, the cardiovascular system, and the central nervous system, we replace a piecemeal approach with a fuller and more integrated assessment of coal’s overall effect on human health
 
Highlights:
Coal pollutants affect all major body organ systems and contribute to four of the five leading causes of mortality in the U.S.: heart disease, cancer, stroke, and chronic lower respiratory diseases. This conclusion emerges from our reassessment of the widely recognized health threats from coal. 
 
Coal combustion in particular contributes to diseases affecting large portions of the U.S. population, including asthma, lung cancer, heart disease, and stroke, compounding the major public health challenges of our time. It interferes with lung development, increases the risk of heart attacks, and compromises intellectual capacity.
 
 
13. Title: Low Frequency Noise and Infrasound from Wind Turbine Generators: A Literature Review 2004
Prepared for: Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority New Zealand
Authors: George Bellhouse, Accredited Acoustic Consultant
 
Scope: The Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) is seeking an impartial, neutral and accurate review of low frequency sound and infrasound from wind turbine generators and their effects on people. Accurate and up to date information on the effects of noise from wind turbine generators is required in order to be best able to address some of the concerns about the development of wind farms, especially when they are sited near residents. Of primary concern is whether there is sufficient evidence to show that low-frequency or infrasound from wind turbine generators should cause concern to residents living near wind turbines.
 
Highlights:
There is no evidence to indicate that low-frequency sound or infrasound from current models of wind turbine generators should cause concern to anyone living close to a wind turbine generator or a wind farm.
 
 
14. Title: Psycho‐social mediators of reported annoyance and putative health-related symptoms associated with wind turbines
Prepared for: School of Public Health, University of Sydney
Author: Simon Chapman, Ph.D. FASSA
 
Scope:  A short discussion paper regarding new technologies and community concerns, as well as relative annoyance and various technologies generating noise.
 
Highlights:
Two studies have reported that those who live closest to turbine developments are the most positive about them, particularly after the turbines are operating.
 
There has been a long history of sometimes protracted episodes of community concern about environmental health risks said to be caused by new technologies. Some examples include the telephone, television sets, computer screens, microwave ovens, electric blankets and other household electrical appliances, mobile telephones and base stations, fluoridation and vaccination. Wind turbines present a classic case example of a relatively new technology which has generated claims about symptoms and illness said to be caused by exposure to the turbines.
 
 
15. Title: Niagara Region Report to Co-Chairs and Members Public Services Committee Regarding Wind Turbines - September 2009
Prepared for: Niagara Region Public Services Committee
Author: Bill Hunter, Manager Environmental Health Division for Medical Officer of Health
 
Scope:
The purpose of the report is to update Public Health and Social Services Committee on the current science on perceived health effects resulting from living in close proximity to wind farms.
 
Highlights:
Existing Regional and proposed provincial setbacks between turbines and residences are conservative and consequently the potential, in Niagara, for adverse health effects is considered negligible.