Big Wind turbines, health and disease – a Danish perspective

From Industrial Wind Action Group

July  5, 2013 by Mauri Johansson, MD, MHH
This open letter written by Mauri Johansson, MD, MHH, a specialist in Community and Occupational Medicine, reveals important information about the impacts of wind energy development on communities in Denmark and how these impacts are being exported to other countries.

The history of wind turbines in Denmark started back in the 1970’s with very small but gradually bigger wind turbines which were mostly owned by local farmers.[1] The big wind turbines ( > 1 MW) came in the late 2000’s but at a rather slow pace.

Documents based on the right of access in environmental and other Danish authorities have shown that already in the late 1980’s there were complaints about the noise, but local as well as central authorities generally refused to investigate, and did not involve medical expertise. This happens also today.

Despite these complaints for over 20 years, unfortunately no medically based research has ever been conducted in Denmark, even not as a base for “safe” distances and noise limitations. The only research has been engineer-performed noise measurements and calculations. This ignores the human physiological impact of the wind turbine noise, previously shown in research into the impacts of other noise sources. Engineers are not physicians, and therefore cannot assess the impact on human health. Furthermore, those acoustic engineers closely connected with the wind industry have an obvious yet rarely acknowledged financial conflict of interest.

Unfortunately, the formal Danish statutory orders relating to wind turbine noise pollution have been exported internationally, together with the turbines. This is even more problematic now, because of the increasing size of the wind turbines.

With the giant wind turbines (>1MW) the relative amount of low frequency noise, which is very intrusive and easily spreads far away, is increasing. This has been shown in independent research at Aalborg University, Acoustics, Professor Henrik Moeller.[2] Comments recently from Australian Emeritus Professor Colin Hansen have indicated that the same intrusive health and sleep damaging wind turbine noise is occurring in Australia at Waterloo wind development (37 Danish VESTAS V90 3MW wind turbines), under certain meteorological conditions, at distances out to 10km.[3]

Unfortunately in Demark there has been no systematic registration of complaints, or follow up for the people whose health and sleep have been affected by the noise. No information about risks for illness has ever been sent to GP’s or the hospital system. So in fact in Denmark we have no idea of the real numbers, and most farmers are uneasy to speak up about their health/illness problems. Speaking up also risks falling house and land prices or may even totally prohibit their sale.

There is no doubt, however, that the number of complaints of sleep and health problems from Danish residents is increasing. A few residents have had relevant medical examinations and among those who have, the causality of their symptoms from wind turbine noise has been confirmed on an individual, clinical level in a small number of cases.

Epidemiological research is totally lacking, and studies over longer time periods, too.  Continue reading, here….

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