Health research body finds “little evidence” of wind farm-induced sickness

A review into the correlation between wind farms and human health by Australia’s peak health research body has, again, found there is no backing to support claims wind farms cause poor quality of life.

The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) concluded, “there is no reliable or consistent evidence that wind farms directly cause adverse health effects in humans,” with chief executive officer Professor Warwick Anderson saying further research is warranted.

“There is some consistent but poor quality evidence that proximity to wind farms is associated with annoyance and, less consistently, with sleep disturbance and poorer quality of life. However, it is unknown whether these effects are caused by the wind turbines themselves, or by other related factors,” said Professor Anderson, quoting from the paper.

Fear surrounding the potential health impacts of wind farms are a recurring pivotal theme for opposition to numerous wind projects. A range of health conditions has been reported anecdotally, including annoyance, anxiety, hearing loss and interference with sleep, speech and learning. Shadow flicker from wind turbines that interrupts sunlight at flash frequencies has also been cited as having the potential to provoke photosensitive seizures.

Nonetheless, the latest report NHMRC is the 20th review into wind turbines’ impact on human health since 2003, all of which have reached the same broad conclusion there is insufficient evidence to support adverse effects of wind turbines on health.

According to the study’s author Simon Chapman, Professor of Public Health at Sydney University, no health complaints from residents at that point had been reported for 63 per cent of the 49 wind farms in Australia.

The study did find health complaints were higher around wind farms where the anti-wind farm lobby was more active, prompting researchers to suggest some residents believed an illness was likely to occur because they believed they should experience it.

NHMRC has called for public submissions on the draft report until April 11, 2014, and is particularly interested in receiving high-quality evidence published since the date at which they stopped reviewing.