MacIntyre: The Effects of Wind Turbine Noise on Health

Member of Legislative Assembly Don MacIntyre’s column

MacIntyre: The Effects of Wind Turbine Noise on Health

The effects of Wind Turbine Noise (WTN) on health is a grey area of research. Studies lack the ability to cover the wide range of areas needed for a comprehensive look at the issue. Peer-reviewed studies like the one done by Jesper Hvass Schmidt and Mads Klokker, published in the PLos ONE scientific journal, cross-referenced with others, have tried to provide a more complete picture, but the long-term health effects of Low-Frequency Noise (LFN) remain uncertain.

According to the study done by the 2014 Canadian Journal of Rural Medicine “There is sufficient evidence to support the conclusion that noise from audible Industrial Wind Turbines (IWTs) is a potential cause of health effects.” and that “Inaudible LFN and infrasound from Industrial Wind Turbines cannot be ruled out as plausible causes of health effects.” However, in some cases, like the summary published by Health Canada on the effects of Wind Turbines on Health, the argument is that WTN has a minimal effect on health. Regardless of where one stands on the effects of the WTN issue, presenting an apparently untested summary as a conclusion is poor practice.

Self-reported cases from various countries include severe symptoms such as aggressive outbursts, depression, suicidal inclinations and agitation all attributed to living and working in close proximity to IWTs. Proving that WTN and Excessive Amplitude Modulation emitted by wind turbines is a significant factor on health, to the satisfaction of scientific review and industry, is the more difficult process. The struggle with this process is largely due to the lack of data able to be used as scientific data, not that the data doesn’t exist.

If lack of information is the barrier to understanding WTN, a system that gathers consistent quality information needs to be implemented. Installing a quality monitoring device at all wind farms near communities and residences could be an effective blueprint to ensure wind industries and producers are held to account on what they’re saying. Over time, it would also create a scientifically sound data base for researchers.

Regulations on Wind Turbine distance from homes have been established in countries such as Bavaria, Australia, Scotland, Europe and America in moving forward with wind energy. It appears that in Canada the only setback regulation is in Ontario, and is only 550 meters from residences.

Before rapidly moving forward with wind energy, comprehensive wind farm monitoring and peer reviewed research must be conducted to assess and mitigate the negative effects of WTN and LFN, with the ultimate goal being the protection of our people and livestock. Building regulations also need to be clearly established. There are no excuses for the lack of information on WTN.

Don MacIntyre, MLA

Innisfail-Sylvan Lake

#2, 160 Hewlett Park Landing

Sylvan Lake, AB T4S 2J3

E: innisfail.sylvanlake@assembly.ab.ca