A new clinical study from the University of Sydney finds that so-called ‘wind turbine sickness’ may actually be caused by the suggestion from anti-wind groups that turbines make people sick.
According to the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA), the new study found that 31, or 63%, of Australia's 49 wind farms have never been the subject of any health complaint from nearby residents. It also found that 68% of the 120 complaints that have been made came from residents living near wind farms heavily targeted by the anti-wind farm lobby and that ''the advent of anti-wind farm groups beginning to foment concerns about health (from around 2009) was also strongly correlated with actual complaints being made.’
Study lead Simon Chapman, professor of public health at Sydney University, has said the results suggest that health problems attributed to wind energy are a ''communicated disease'' – or a sickness spread by the suggestion that something is likely to make a person sick, CanWEA notes.
The study says that this is caused by the ''nocebo effect'' – the opposite of the placebo effect – in which the belief that something can cause an illness creates the perception of illness. CanWEA adds that Chapman found a much greater connection between negative attitudes toward wind turbines and reports of health effects than any ''objective measures of actual exposure.''
"We review all credible information on the subject of wind turbines and human health as it is made available, and it is clear that the balance of scientific evidence shows that wind turbines do not have an impact on human health," says Robert Hornung, president of CanWEA, noting that the majority of complaints against Canadian wind farms have been made by anti-wind individuals and groups, not by residents.
"We believe Canadians should base their decisions about energy on facts grounded in the best scientific evidence," Hornung adds. "The fact remains that wind energy is one of the safest forms of electricity generation for both humans and wildlife."
The full study is available here.