Wind turbines pose no health risk — study

E&E • Posted: Thursday, January 19, 2012

There is little evidence that wind turbines pose health hazards to people living nearby, according to a report by an independent panel of scientists and doctors commissioned by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection.

Opponents of wind power have argued that turning turbines, flickering light and vibrations produce dizziness, nausea and depression or anxiety, symptoms they call “wind turbine syndrome.” But the panel concluded in the 164-page report released yesterday that there is no rigorous research to support such claims.

Critics, however, say the report failed to address the complaints from people living close to turbines and that more research is needed.

The panel did not conduct original research or investigate specific complaints. Instead, it surveyed the existing scientific studies. The panel acknowledged that the available scientific literature on the topic is limited and that previous studies have had shortcomings, including self-reported symptoms and problems with singling other factors that could account for the health effects.

“It is extremely important that we have the best science available to us as we make decisions on wind energy,” said Kenneth Kimmell, Massachusetts environmental protection commissioner. Gov. Deval Patrick’s (D) administration wants to vastly increase the state’s share of wind power, ramping up its current 45 megawatts of production to 2,000 megawatts by 2020. It has pushed for three-quarters of that to come from offshore sources (David Abel, Boston Globe, Jan. 17)