France’s National Academy of Medicine — The impact of wind turbines on human health (2005)

From the Friends of Jeddore website

A report from the ACADÉMIE NATIONALE DE MÉDECINE (2005)

The impact of wind turbine operation on human health.

Claude-Henri CHOUARD(Member of Academie Nationale de médecine)..

L’Association APSA (Association pour la protection des Abers) requested a study on the possibility of harmful action of wind turbines on the health of humans, in a letter dated March 7, 2005 to the Minister of Health and Social Services. It sent a copy, for information, to the President of the Académie nationale de médecine. The Administrative Council, in its meeting of March 15, 2005, deemed it necessary to deal with this problem, and to entrust the study of it to a Work Group specially created for this purpose.

1- Introduction

The development of wind farms in France is a means of alleviating the country’s energy dependence. But people living, in some cases, right beside the wind turbines, express various grievances, and complain of very specific noises resulting from their nearness to the wind turbines. For the past ten years, regulations concerning the installation of these devices have taken note of impact on the environment, on flora as well as on wildlife, especially birds. But for humans, the possibility of nuisance, including noise, induced by the operation of these devices has been minimized, and specific assessment has not been provided for in regulations [1]. This falsely reassuring omission is probably one reason for the concern of these members of the public, and has effectively allowed the propagation of questionable pathogenic rumors to explain the problems experienced, especially those concerning the possible role of infrasounds. These rumors could not help but amplify the importance of functional disorders.

Understandably, these grievances and fears have been so widely publicized, because they served as additional arguments to the Associations which oppose the installation of these devices for environmental, aesthetic or economic reasons; these are political matters and are not within the Academy’s expertise.

Currently, in the scientific literature, there are very few data on the potential dangers of wind turbines to man. The mission of this Working Group was to take stock of current knowledge, and assess the likelihood of this danger; this led us to propose to the Board a number of recommendations.

2- Wind turbines

Wind turbines, whether they are isolated or grouped in large numbers in agglomerations improperly called “wind farms” are a source of “renewable” energy; this has sparked worldwide interest. In France, despite the controversy caused by their operation, this energy has started to develop (see Appendix A) because these installations have yielded asignificant financial benefits over the past several years.. These represent a clear pecuniary interest to individuals and municipalities hosting these machines.

But this concerns only the owners who lease the land for installation, without the inhabitants of the neighborhood obtaining the slightest advantage. When small home-owners, often retirees, see the value of their modest property collapse, they feel a sense of injustice, which amplifies the noise nuisance to which this part of the population is submitted. In addition, actions taken by the private industriesresponsible for installing wind turbines, fall within the scope of marketing techniques employed in order to obtain the prior consent of the people; one of these techniques is to minimize the inconvenience caused by the vicinity of these machines. But the disappointment felt after the fact, when unanticipated nuisances occur, increases the likely impact of psychic discomfort encountered.

Notwithstanding section 98 vested in the wind in the Act of July 2, 2003, these machines are merely subject to the regulation of noise from neighbors (Article R 1336-8 R 1336-9 and the code of public health and order dated May 10 1995 on how to measure the noise [2]), so that the administrative procedures which must be currently used to obtain a permit to build a wind turbine do not include a required minimum distance from homes. In some cases, this distance is less than five hundred meters.

It is ironic that until now the turbines, which are mechanical electrical equipment generating business taxes for the municipalities, have never been treated as industrial facilities: the implementation of the latter is subject to specific rules designed to prevent the risk that their functioning may bring about, in particular the impact of noise imposed on the neighborhood.

Finally it should be noted that the regulations concerning the measurement of noise from wind turbines vary from one country to another. The EU is becoming concerned about this disparity, and has recently standardized methods of measurement of induced noise in the vicinity of an operational turbine. But presently, this European regulation does not involve measurements taken over long periods of several weeks.

3- Health complaints made by some people living near wind turbines.

It is difficult to establish a definitive catalogue of these, as comprehensive clinical studies without any methodological bias are rare in the literature.

Noise is the most common complaint. It is described as throbbing, disturbing, perpetually surprising because it is irregular in intensity, but subjects also note jarring and incongruous sounds which distract attention or disturb rest. The occurrence of unexpected noises at night disturbs sleep, causing the subject to awaken suddenly when the wind rises, or preventing them from going back to sleep.

Wind turbines have been blamed for other problems experienced by people living in their vicinity. They are less precise, less well described and consist of subjective manifestations (headache, fatigue, transient sensations of intoxication, nausea) and sometimes objective (vomiting, insomnia, palpitations).

Note that the movements of the shadow of the rotating blades have been blamed for distractions that may lead to car accidents, or even epilepsy.

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To read full report, click here:  Academiereportonwindturbinesdiagrams

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2 responses to “France’s National Academy of Medicine — The impact of wind turbines on human health (2005)

  1. I am the owner of a 474 acre, 2,200 ft mountain “Old Turke Mtn.” in the Western White Mountains of the State of Maine in the United States. Purchased in 2000 and a remote camp erected in 2002 at 1,100 ft in elevation. A four hour hike from the camp to the summit yelds breath taking views of 100’s of other mountain tops including Sunday River Ski resort in Bethel, Maine to the South West. Tumble Down Mtn. to the East. Pleasant Mtn to the North to name a few. To the South 22 new Wind Turbines in this wilderness developed by X governor of Maine and recently voted in to replace retired Senator Olympia Snow. Senator Angus King. Prior to announcing his candidacy Mr. King apparently sold his interest fearing “conflict of interest” acquisations in the “Roxbury” Wind Farm. Why ?? Is it because the land these Turbines occupy is owned by the Paper Industry and a large contributor perhaps. Nevertheless, time will only tell when I go ahead with my plans to build a Log Cabin Lodge on my summit for others to enjoy panoramic views and 22 Turbines. UHHGG!! The catch here is I’ve already been warned by “concerned citizens” that they will oppose my plans as it will distroy a pristene Mountain Top ! One of the very few privately owned meaning ( non paper land ) and not a recepient of an energy subsidy provided to the residents of the neighboring town of Roxbury, Maine for permitting the “Roxbury” Wind Farm. Hypocrits are everywhere ?? For the record I SUPPORTED the alternative renewable energy “Roxbury” Wind Farm and have always voted for the Honorable Angus King in all his endeavors. Go figure.

  2. Mr. Harmon, You should visit a wind turbine complex (not farm as these are industrial turbines) and stay for a while and see what people have to endure with noise. They do ruin the landscape not to mention wildlife, and the environment. They cause CO2 EMISSIONS with their construction and need backup from coal or gas. Surely you could use solar or some other form of renewable energy. These turbines are not ‘green’ and there are so many sites now showing how many people are against them along with studies done by experts proving they cause problems.

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