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A critical analysis of: wind turbine health impact study: report of independent expert panel

Abstract

The "Wind Turbine Health Impact Study: Report of Independent Expert Panel" study says: "The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) in collaboration with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) 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, and, specifically, to facilitate discussion of wind turbines and public health based on scientific findings." It continues, saying: "The scope of the Panel's effort was focused on health impacts of wind turbines per se." The Massachusetts study treats health affects broadly in accordance with WHO and includes direct health effects, annoyance, and sleep disruption. In many ways the Massachusetts study is a critique of the literature relating to wind farm acoustic emissions and health effects. This paper is a critique of the critics. In particular, this critique examines some of the physical acoustic findings and some of the social survey findings. The Massachusetts study reveals itself to have problems similar to those that it criticizes in other reports.

Introduction

Proponents of wind farms usually state that there is no scientific evidence that low frequency sound affects people. What we term herein as “the Massachusetts (MA) study” is one such example of this class of reports. In many ways this class of reports contains critiques of the literature relating to wind farm acoustic emissions and health effects. The MA report treats health effects broadly in accordance with WHO definitions and includes direct health effects, annoyance, and sleep disruption.

The state of Massachusetts developed such a report whereby the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) “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, and, specifically, to facilitate discussion of wind turbines and public health based on scientific findings.” Because of the emphasis on health effects, this project was undertaken in collaboration with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH).

In this paper, we critique the MA study; in particular, this critique examines some of the physical acoustic findings and some of the social survey findings. We deal with the following two topics in this report:

a) The quality of the analysis of the physical wind turbine sound description and discussion. In particular, we review the use of references.
b) The quality of the analysis of the literature that discusses human response to the wind turbine noise.

Conclusions

The authors of the Massachusetts study show problems with their analysis at many points, such as by selectively quoting evidence in a reference when the majority of the reference is contrary to a major thesis of the MA study. The perfect survey is impossible to create from a practical standpoint, but that seems to be the only evidence satisfactory to the authors for establishing a relationship between wind turbine noise and annoyance. The authors state that the surveys should have been longitudinal and imply that each survey should have been implemented and in operation before a community even knew that a wind farm was being considered. Their
statements also suggest that they believe journal articles need to include every piece of data and every analysis that a panel of professionals can question or request. And even when a statistical analysis is complete and shows two groups do not differ significantly, the MA study panel finds problems just as if they had been statistically different rather than accepting the evidence that they are not different.

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DEC 2 2013
http://www.windaction.org/posts/40182-a-critical-analysis-of-wind-turbine-health-impact-study-report-of-independent-expert-panel
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