In 2010 Australia's leading expert health research body National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) issued a public statement defining that “There is currently no published scientific evidence to positively link wind turbines with adverse health effects.”
On 25th Feb 2014, NHMRC released its updated review of the evidence for public comment:
The National Health and Medical Research Council debunks the most serious health complaints levelled against wind development. It concludes:
- wind turbine noise (including low frequency and infrasound) is similar to other natural and human-made sounds
- the risk of shadow flicker (the flickering effect caused by rotating wind turbines) triggering seizures among people is very low
- any low frequency electromagnetic radiation close to wind farms is less than levels in and around the average suburban home
The council's CEO, Professor Warwick Anderson, says of the 3,000 published references presented to the review, only seven studies were considered to have met the eligibility guidelines.
Professor Anderson says the report also deals with the issue of problems associated with wind farms, rather than caused by them.
"People report ill health and do suffer from ill health all of the time and it's very easy for us as human beings to associate that with something that's happened in our lives.
"The second possibility is people are really annoyed with the sudden appearance of wind farms on their horizon or just up the road in neighbourhoods where there's never been this sort of industry before. People get really annoyed and it goes on for a long time.
"That itself can cause ill health, the stress from being annoyed over a long period of time can cause both physical and mental ill health."
Professor Warwick Anderson, National Health & Medical Research Council
It concludes there is consistent -but poor quality evidence - that proximity to wind farms is associated with annoyance and to a lesser extent sleep disturbance. But that that didn't necessarily mean turbines caused the effects. "Evidence is not strong enough to call this either way and that's why we really do need some more research in this area."
Victorian Department of Health Declaration (2013) states:
“A low level of audible sound, such as that produced by wind farms, is not a problem for most people. However, susceptible people may develop a negative reaction to sound due to a number of factors, relating to either the noise itself, or the individuals response to the noise.”
South Australian EPA with Resonate Acoustics (2013) concludes, in relation to Infrasound,
“that the level of infrasound at houses near the wind turbines assessed is no greater than that experienced in other urban and rural environments, and that the contribution of wind turbines to the measured infrasound levels is insignificant in comparison with the background level in the environment.”