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Wed January 18, 2012
Massachusetts Releases Independent Panel's Study on Wind Turbines and Public Health
By Lucas Willard
Pittsfield, MA – The Wind Turbine Health Impact Study: Report of the Independent Expert Panel was released yesterday. Research on existing scientific literature and evidence was reviewed by the Independent Panel which included mechanical engineers, physicians and experts on acoustics, public health, sleep disturbance, and other scientific fields. The panel collaborated with the MassDEP and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. According to the report, the following highlights were revealed
- It was not determined that infrasound and vibrations from wind turbines affects the vestibular system - the inner-ear system which regulates the body's sense of place and balance
- It was not determined that the noise from wind turbines attributes to psychological distress or mental health problems
- No evidence reviewed suggested a proximity to wind turbines is associated with high blood pressure and cardiovascular health, hearing impairment, headaches and migrains, and pain and stiffness.
- No evidence was found that shadow flicker of spinning turbine blades can lead to seizure epilepsy.
The report presents that there is not enough evidence that wind turbines cause what's known as "Wind Turbine Syndrome". The report does present "limited evidence" that noise and vibrations associated with wind turbines may cause sleep disruption - which independently can lead to problems in mood and cognitive thinking. The report also used the term "annoyance" - which also provides its own independent effects.
Panel Member Dr. Susan Santos at a press conference yesterday remarked about the limited evidence that wind turbines can cause sleep disturbance.
MassDEP Commissioner Kenneth Kimmel stated that the study will now enter a 60-day public comment period.
Eleanor Tillinghast, head of Green Berkshires, an organization involved in an advocacy group called Wind Wise Massachusetts, fears that the study dismisses too much, and could lead to influence future legislation, including a future version of the Wind Energy Siting Reform Bill - a measure planned to expedite the permitting process for wind turbines in Massachusetts that was killed in the Senate last year.
A 1.65 megawatt wind turbine that sat idle in Falmouth for a year after town selectmen halted its operation due to public complaints, started up just last week. (For a test)
The 168-page report can be found here:
More information on the wind panel can be found here:
Tuesday, February 14, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. - Massachusetts Department of Transportation offices, 10 Park Plaza, second floor conference rooms, Boston.
Thursday, February 16, from 5-8 p.m. - Bourne High School, Beth Bourne Auditorium, 75 Waterhouse Road, Bourne.
Tuesday, February 28, from 5-8 p.m. - The Lee Middle and High School Auditorium, 300 Greylock Street, Lee. Snow date: February 29th.