Noise from wind turbines poses no threat to human health

Sunset at an Iowa wind farm (flickr). 

Julia Poska | February 1, 2019

Though many neighbors of wind farms complain that the turbines are an eyesore and that their whirring causes headaches or disturbs sleep, there is little scientific evidence to suggest that the noise from wind farms causes any harm to humans beyond annoyance.

That’s the main message in a report released yesterday by the UI Environmental Health Sciences Research Center, Iowa Policy Project and Iowa Environmental Council. They based their conclusion on a review of two previous reviews of academic literature on wind turbines and human health.

Those reviews, conducted a few years ago, found no link between health outcomes and wind turbines, though they did find evidence of annoyance. The authors of the new report believe that risk perception plays a major role in perceived “annoyance” for neighbors of wind farms. Those that have a negative view of the turbines will be more likely to report negative health outcomes, whether or not they are actually exposed to harmful noises. Those that receive monetary compensation for the potential nearby nuisance will be less likely to report annoyance or health problems.

Nearly 37 percent of energy produced in energy is generated by wind power, according to the American Wind Energy Association. At over 8,400 megawatts, Iowa has the second highest wind power capacity in the nation. Ten wind power facilities have saved over 8.8 million metric tons of atmospheric carbon and provided over 7,000 jobs since the state started developing wind power infrastructure almost 20 years ago.

The authors of the report believe the benefits of the industry outweigh potential annoyances to neighbors.

“Given the evidence and confounding factors, and the well-documented negative health and environmental impacts of power produced with fossil fuels, we conclude that development of electricity fromwind is a benefit to the environment,” they wrote. “We conclude that wind energy should result in a net positive benefit to human health.”

UI’s Environmental Health Sciences Research Center receives huge grant

Photo by summerrunner2009, Flickr.

The University of Iowa’s Environmental Health Sciences Research Center received a five-year $7.9 million grant from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

The grant will go towards the continued research of environmental health effects from rural and agricultural exposures.

In total, the funding will help support more than $500 million of research in many departments around the University of Iowa campus.

Read an article about the grant from the Press-Citizen here.

Thorne honored with John Doull Award

Peter Thorne

Peter Thorne, Ph.D., professor and head of the Department of Occupational and Environmental Health in the University of Iowa College of Public Health, received the 2010 John Doull Award at the annual meeting of the Central States Chapter of the Society of Toxicology Nov. 4-5 in Iowa City.

This prestigious award is presented each year by the CS-SOT to honor the contributions of an outstanding member of the discipline of toxicology and the chapter. The award is named after Dr. John Doull in honor of his distinguished career in toxicology.

Since 2001, Thorne has served as director of the Environmental Health Sciences Research Center at the UI. He teaches graduate-level courses on environmental health, human toxicology and hazards of biological agents and is a co-founder of the UI Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Human Toxicology.

And for those of you who have made it to this point in the post but aren’t sure what toxicology is: It’s the study of the adverse effects of chemical, physical or biological agents on people, animals, and the environment.

Important stuff, to say the least.