UK Report Debunks Wind Turbine Syndrome By Tom Gray

In our recent e-mail: a "Health & Safety Briefing" document from RenewableUK (the former British Wind Energy Association, now expanded to include wave and marine energy), entitled "Independent review of the state of knowledge about the alleged health condition known as Wind Turbine Syndrome (WTS)."

Wind Turbine Syndrome is the brainchild of Dr. Nina Pierpont, a pediatrician who has studied the question of human health effects allegedly caused by wind turbine sound. The "Syndrome" includes a range of symptoms, from dizziness to anxiety and more.

According to the document, "RenewableUK instructed three independent experts to carry out reviews of the issues, and this specifically included an assessment of the:

"- suitability, efficacy and robustness of the research conducted by Dr Pierpont, with particular emphasis on the strength or otherwise of any cited causal links, and with reference to recognised statistical, analytical and epidemiological techniques applied;

"- underlying scientific and acoustic principles being cited for infrasound/low frequency noise generated by wind turbines; and

"- medical/audiological evidence that infrasound/low frequency noise from wind turbines is the probable cause of the alleged new health condition known as Wind Turbine Syndrome."

A few of the experts’ findings:

"- I do not find that Dr Pierpont has either the necessary independence or the relevant competence with regard to scientific approach or epidemiological analysis."

"- Dr Pierpont’s use of epidemiological and statistical methods is seriously flawed."

"- Pierpont makes the common mistake of taking a one-dimensional view of sound, considering only frequencies and ignoring the importance of levels. A weakness of her work is the absence of decibel levels or threshold levels for the effects that she claims. This is a serious failing, as urban dwellers are exposed to similar levels of infrasound to that from wind turbines."

"- The evidence for response of the human vestibular system to acoustic stimulation is reviewed and it is shown that such responses only occur for high intensities of sound, much greater than created by wind turbines. Responses to low frequency vibration only occur when the vibration is applied directly to the head, causing shaking. These findings further indicate that noise from wind turbines cannot contribute to the symptoms reported by Dr Pierpont’s respondents, by the mechanism that she proposes."

The report has not yet been posted to the RenewableUK Web site. When it is, we will provide a link here.

Previous posts on this blog concerning wind turbine sound:

Ontario’s chief medical officer of health has released a new report saying there is no evidence that wind turbine sound causes adverse health effects.

The Ontario finding appears to be in accord with the findings of a scientific panel convened by AWEA and the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) to review the existing literature on wind turbine sound and health.

While we are not surprised, it’s good to hear yet again that wind power, which we know has substantial positive effects on human health through displacing air toxics and other harmful emissions of fossil fuels, does not have unsuspected harmful impacts.

By Tom Gray,