Edgar Bread – Wind Farms and Human Health — February 27, 2014
This week the national Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) released a report that looked at the health effects of wind farms. The take home conclusion, presented with the press release, was that
there is no reliable or consistent evidence that wind farms directly cause adverse health effects in humans.
This message was repeated in headlines such as ABC’s environmental reporter Jake Sturmer (No reliable link between wind farms and health problems, National Health and Medical Research Council says) and Simon Chapman at the Conversation (Study finds no evidence wind turbines make you sick – again). The commmentary invoked verbal eye-rolls usually reserved for creationists.
However, if you read the report it becomes clear that these headlines are misleading. The failure to find “reliable” “consistent” evidence is actually because the NHMRC did not trust the research. This is understandable. They could only find seven studies that were sufficiently rigorous to even include in the review, and even those studies, the authors viewed with a jaundiced eye. But even in those seven studies there were some findings that wind farms could be detrimental to health.
Quality of life. The NHMRC authors found that of the research that has been done, there seems to be a detrimental effect on quality of life. Here they are talking about it on page 15:
Three studies assessed quality of life and proximity to wind farms. Only one of them attempted to mask the purpose of the study from participants and used a formally validated questionnaire. 11 This study found an association between distance from wind turbines and overall quality of life. Two other studies used author – formulated questions and did not mask the purpose of the study. In one of these studies, the majority of people reported that their quality of life had altered since living near a wind turbine, regardless of how close they lived to the turbine. 13 The other study reported that more residents living close to a turbine wanted to move away than residents living further from a turbine.
Yep, they found three whole studies into quality of life. Count em! All three found basically the same thing: quality of life was reduced due to proximity to wind farms. There was also evidence that people who live near wind farms want to move away from the wind farms. Quality of Life is a hair’s breadth away from depression: this is indirect evidence of health effects. Continue reading critique here….