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June 27, 2013

June 27, 2013: Letters to the editor

Turbines don’t pose a threat to health

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, in collaboration with the Massachusetts Department of Health, convened a panel of independent experts to identify any documented or potential health impacts of risks that may be associated with exposure to wind turbines.

In January of 2012, the panel’s findings were published in a report entitled, “Wind Turbine Health Impact Study: Report of Independent Expert Panel.” The panel consisted of individuals with backgrounds in public health, epidemiology, toxicology, neurology and sleep medicine, neuroscience and mechanical engineering. All of the panel members are considered independent experts from academic institutions including: Harvard, Boston University, the University of Massachusetts and the University of New England.

Another report was prepared by the chief medical officer of health of Ontario in May of 2010. This report was in response to public health concerns about wind turbines, particularly related to noise. This report provides a synopsis of scientific evidence on the potential health impact of noise generated by wind turbines.

In addition, a report was issued by the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia. In particular, this report shows there are no direct pathological effects from wind farms.

Other sources used for this letter are information from the Department of Energy; Acoustic Assessment Report prepared for the Prairie Breeze Wind Farm LLC and conducted by Tetra Tech in May of 2013; information from the World Health Organization; and various other reports used with guidance from the University of Iowa, the University of Wisconsin, Iowa State University, The National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Illinois State University.

A summary of the scientific conclusions pertaining to noise and vibration is provided below.

• Most epidemiologic literature on human response to wind turbines relates to self-reported “annoyance,” and some combination of the sound itself, the sight of the turbine, and attitude toward the wind turbine project.

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