The pilot study carried out in Satakunta and Northern Ostrobothnia in Finland shows that the damage caused by infrasound from wind power plants will only decrease significantly more than 15 kilometers away from wind turbines. The study was carried out by the Finnish Association for Environmental Health (SYTe) in the spring 2016.
– It has been noticed from experience that after the construction of wind power plants, usually within a few months, people in the surrounding area have begun to get a wide range of symptoms, says Markku Mehtätalo, Chairman of the Finnish Association for Environmental Health.
– It is possible to study the matter quite easily and the Finnish authority responsible for the public health, the Department of Health and Welfare (THL), has tried to do this, for example, Mehtätalo continues. However, in THL’s study in 2016, it was assumed that the symptoms would decrease significantly in the first 10 kilometers, with more symptoms near the wind turbines. The study did not take into account the impact of wind farms elsewhere in the environment.
– But it is known from experience that the symptoms of people do not usually decrease at this distance, says Mehtätalo. Measurements have also shown that the infrasound pulses from the wind turbines that are currently being built will not be significantly reduced at this distance. Other risk factors very close to the wind power plants are audible sound and electromagnetic fields.
Nocturnal disturbance is a typical symptom caused by infrasound
The basic research question was whether the family had noticed changes in health status in the last six months or a year within. The wording of the question regarding the time was dependent on when the impact of the nearest wind turbines could have started. The interviewees were not told in advance about the possible connection with wind turbines.
– The majority of respondents were unable to name a change in their overall health status. However, they gave many responses to separate symptomatic questions, says Mehtätalo.
– The most typical was sleep disturbance or change in the need for night’s sleep, fatigue and various pains. Only very few, some respondents, considered wind power plants as a possible cause.
The harmful area caused by infrasound is assumed to be too small
– Later in 2017, based on infrasound measurements made in different parts of Finland, it has been found out that 15–20 km is a typical distance where the infrasound pulses of wind turbines can be detected by measurements to travel in almost all circumstances, says Mehtätalo [1–4]. According to an American study, infrasound travels under favorable conditions to a distance of 90 km from wind farms .
If the sample of the pilot study is representative, about 400,000 of the Finns suffer from symptoms due to wind turbines and only about 10,000 of them combine the symptoms with wind power plants. Because of the small amount of research data, strong conclusions must be taken with caution.
– However, the study clearly shows that in all previous studies, the harmful area has already beforehand been presumed to be too small, says Markku Mehtätalo.
– Among other things, the extensive, in-depth material of another American study, used in several publications, has been gathered within a radius of 11.7 km from wind turbines. For this reason, the harmful health effects cannot be found in the studies, because the symptoms do not vary at this distance, he concludes. - syte