On Thursday Health Canada released Wind Turbine Noise and Health Study: Summary of Results. Media headlines in reporting on the release were largely along the lines of CBC’s ignorant Wind turbine noise not linked to health problems, Health Canada finds, with some exceptions, including the Toronto Star’s No definitive link between wind turbines and poor health, says Health Canada study, It seems to me the discussion now will be whether it is industrial wind turbines making people unwell, or people like me arguing that’s possible that harms people.
The Star’s introductory paragraphs do, I think, introduce the topic well:
Living near towering wind turbines can be extremely annoying but there is no connection between exposure to the wind turbine noise and health effects, says a new comprehensive Health Canada study.
Noise from wind turbines did not have any measurable effect on illness and chronic disease, stress and quality of sleep, the study found. But the louder the noise from the turbines, the more people got annoyed by different aspects — from the noise to the aircraft warning lights atop the turbines to the way they caused shadows to flicker.
But Health Canada said the study on its own cannot provide definitive answers and more research may be needed. It also pointed out that annoyance isn’t trivial — those who were annoyed were more likely to report other health issues.
From Health Canada’s release:
Annoyance is defined as a long-term response (approximately 12 months) of being “very or extremely annoyed” as determined by means of surveys. Reference to the last year or so is intended to distinguish a long term response from one’s annoyance on any given day. The relationship between noise and community annoyance is stronger than any other self-reported measure, including complaints and reported sleep disturbance.
- WTN [wind turbine noise] annoyance was found to be statistically related to several self-reported health effects including, but not limited to, blood pressure, migraines, tinnitus, dizziness, scores on the PSQI, and perceived stress.
- WTN annoyance was found to be statistically related to measured hair cortisol, systolic and diastolic blood pressure.