The town of Falmouth, Mass., on Cape Cod voted overwhelmingly Tuesday against removing two wind turbines installed at its wastewater treatment plant.
The vote in Falmouth was taken in a context in which state health agencies across the U.S., including in Massachusetts, and their counterparts at the national level globally have reported consistently on the overwhelming scientific consensus that sounds generated by wind turbines do not have a direct effect on human health.
Hundreds of thousands of individuals live and work around wind farms around the world without incident. If this were a widespread issue, wind energy would not enjoy the broad societal support we have today – with a recent Gallup poll showing 70% support nationwide. That support helped us have our biggest year ever in 2012; leading to wind energy powering the equivalent of over 15 million homes, and $25 billion in private investment into the US economy last year alone.
Given that wind is clean and renewable, creates no air or water pollution, uses no water, and generates hazardous waste in the production of electricity, its net health and environmental effects are strongly positive.
In other sound-related news, it’s time to catch up on a new government study that was released during our WINDPOWER 2013 Conference & Exhibition. The Department of Health of the Australian state of Victoria reported on a review of inaudible sound from wind turbines and found, according to The Age, a Melbourne-based newspaper, that it “is no worse than that from other rural and urban environments and does not affect human health.”
Added the article by Age reporter Tom Arup, “The Health Department review, released late last week, assessed the evidence and found it does not ‘support claims that inaudible sounds can have direct physiological effects. Physiological effects on humans have only been detected at levels that are easily audible.’
“The report says infrasound is generated by many sources, such as trains, breaking waves and airconditioners. The department found the evidence showed wind farms produced no more infrasound than the background level in other environments.”
The report’s findings are consistent with a number of other previous government- and privately-funded assessments from the U.S., Australia, Canada, and the U.K., and with more recent research indicating that physiological symptoms are actually caused by the power of suggestion (the “nocebo”–similar to placebo–effect) rather than by inaudible sound.
For more information on: AWEA