Health Canada Finds No Link from Turbines to Health Effects
But its new report did show a relationship between increasing levels of wind turbine noise and annoyance with some features – including vibration and aircraft warning lights on top of the turbines.
Trying to fill a research gap as the level of wind turbine-generated electricity is rising sharply, Health Canada has studied the relationship between exposure to wind turbine noise and the health effects reported by, and measured in, people living near wind turbines for the past two years. The agency released a report on its findings last week.
Health Canada says as of November 2012, Canada's installed capacity was 5.9 gigawatts, providing 2.3 percent of Canada's current electricity demands, but the wind energy industry has set a vision that by 2025 wind energy will supply 20 percent of the country’s electricity demands.
Its research was launched in response to public concerns about the potential health impacts of wind turbine noise. Health effects reported by individuals living in communities near wind turbine installations are poorly understood because there is limited scientific research in this area, according to the agency.
In the report on its Wind Turbine Noise and Health Study, launched in 2012 in collaboration with Statistics Canada, Health Canada said it found no evidence to support a link between exposure to wind turbine noise and any of the self-reported or measured health endpoints examined. "However, the study did demonstrate a relationship between increasing levels of wind turbine noise and annoyance towards several features (including noise, vibration, shadow flicker, and the aircraft warning lights on top of the turbines) associated with wind turbines," it said, adding, "It is important to note that the findings from this study do not provide definitive answers on their own and must be considered in the context of a broader evidence base."
The study was conducted in Southwestern Ontario and Prince Edward Island and included 1,238 households out of a possible 1,570 households living at various distances from 399 turbines in 18 wind turbine developments. According to Health Canada, it is the first study related to wind turbine noise to implement the use of both self-reported and physically measured health endpoints that included hair cortisol as a biomarker of stress, blood pressure, resting heart rate, and sleep.