THERE are very few health symptoms these days which anti-wind power activists and suggestible and anxious residents have not at some point blamed on those spinning steel turbine blades.
According to a list compiled by Simon Chapman, the University of Sydney's Professor of Public Health and much-awarded enemy of the tobacco industry, wind farms have been blamed for more than 180 different symptoms including weak bladders, cancers, weight gain, weight loss, herpes, kidney damage and, in one case, a woman having not one, but five menstrual periods in a single month.
Apparently, wind farms also cause chickens to be hatched with crossed beaks (and eggs being laid without yolks), cats to produce small litters, horses to get club feet and crickets to disappear.
Chapman noted recently at The Conversation that in Australia health complaints about wind farms have been relatively recent, despite some wind farms having been in operation for almost 20 years. In one area, Chapman said complaints had only been made after “a visit to the area by a vocal opponent, spreading anxiety”.
The Australian Government's National Health and Medical Research Council has begun its second review of the “evidence” for such claims, examining studies and reports from around the world. The agency's 2010 review looked at a range of issues which anti-wind groups often cite as the causes of symptoms in people living in wind farm areas. These included noise, low frequency sound and infrasound, shadow flicker, blade glint and electromagnetic radiation.
The review concluded that in each case, there was no evidence that wind turbines could have a direct impact on people's health. The review said it was possible that people were getting annoyed by their sound, but also pointed out that a wind farm with 10 turbines at a distance of 350m was about as loud as a quiet bedroom. People were more likely to be annoyed by the sound if they also didn't like the look of turbines on the landscape.