Although a study by the Council of Canadian Academies (CCA) identified potential adverse health effects linked to wind turbine noise, it concluded there is inadequate evidence to support a direct link between wind turbine and health effects.
The report, ‘Assessing the Evidence: Wind Turbine Noise,’ is the latest in a long line of studies seeking to link adverse health impacts with wind turbines. The group says it was asked to perform the assessment from Health Canada in response to public concern.Â
For its part, Health Canada performed its own study in 2014 and found no causal relationship between wind effects and human health.
For most of the identified symptoms, the CCA says the evidence is inadequate to draw a direct link between wind turbine noise and any negative effect on health.
The panel's report stresses that, given the nature of the sound produced by wind turbines and the limited quality of available evidence, the health impacts of wind turbine noise cannot be comprehensively assessed. Therefore, more study is required.
The panel did outline its main findings in a full report. Some findings include the following:
- The evidence is sufficient to establish a causal relationship between exposure to wind turbine noise and annoyance.
- There is limited evidence to establish a causal relationship between exposure to wind turbine noise and sleep disturbance.
- The evidence suggests a lack of causality between exposure to wind turbine noise and hearing loss.
- For all other health effects considered – fatigue, tinnitus, vertigo, nausea, dizziness, cardiovascular diseases and diabetes – the evidence was inadequate to come to any conclusion about the presence or absence of a causal relationship with exposure to wind turbine noise.
- Technological development is unlikely to resolve, in the short term, the current issues related to perceived adverse health effects of wind turbine noise.
- Impact assessments and community engagement provide communities with greater knowledge and control over wind energy projects and, therefore, help limit annoyance.
For its part, the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) says it is fully reviewing the report.
Notably, CanWEA asserts, the report acknowledges that findings from Health Canada's comprehensive, multi-disciplinary Wind Turbine Noise and Health study were not included in the body of evidence assessed by their expert panel. The Health Canada study, according to CanWEA, was one of the largest studies conducted to date on wind turbine sound and on objective and measured health outcomes, clearly concludes that no association could be found between increasing levels of wind turbine sound and health effects.
For its part, the association will continue its own review of the CCA research report in more detail and will continue to monitor the scientific literature and new scientific research in this area.