Government study: No health effects observed with infrasound from wind turbines

The Government-funded project investigated the health effects of infrasound from wind turbines in Finland. According to the research results, the infrasound of wind turbines does not explain the symptoms associated with wind turbines.

The effect of infrasound was extensively investigated in the study with long-term sound measurements, surveys in wind power areas and lab tests. The sound measurement and the survey were focused on areas where residents living close to wind farms were known to associate their symptoms with wind turbine infrasound. In the group living less than 2.5 km from wind turbines, 85 percent of respondents did not associate possible symptoms with wind turbine infrasound. Throughout the survey area, within a radius of about 20 kilometers from wind turbines, only five percent of respondents associated symptoms with wind turbine infrasound.

The effects of wind power infrasound were also studied with hearing tests in a laboratory where infrasound sound samples recorded in wind power areas was played to the participants. Participants of the hearing test were divided into two groups: individuals who reported experiencing symptoms from wind turbine infrasound prior the study and individuals who did not experience symptoms from wind turbine infrasound. According to the results of the hearing tests, the participants were not able to detect infrasound in the sound samples, and infrasound did not affect the experienced annoyance. There was no difference in the answers between the two different responded groups.

Physiological measurements performed during the hearing tests also showed no difference in stress indicators between different groups or sound samples. Those participants who had reported experiencing symptoms or a feeling of illness from the wind turbines’ infrasound prior the study were not more sensitive to detecting wind turbine infrasound than others, and they did not perceive the infrasound as more disturbing than other participants. Nor did their autonomic nervous system respond more strongly than usual to the infrasound.

The conclusion is: Although some of the nearby residents of the wind farms associated wind turbines with their symptoms in the survey conducted in wind power areas, the results of this study do not support claims that wind turbine infrasound would cause harm to health.

“It is great that the impact of wind turbine noise on health has been studied thoroughly in Finland, and that the study results confirm previous scientific research that wind turbine infrasound has no effect on health. Information about the results of the study should be shared widely, because, as the study states, public debate has a great force in our thinking”, says Anni Mikkonen, CEO of the Finnish Wind Power Association.

The study was performed as a multidisciplinary collaboration by the Technology Research Center VTT Oy, the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, the University of Helsinki and the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare.

Read the results: Infrasound Does Not Explain Symptoms Related to Wind Turbines

Links in Finnish:
Government news
Policy Brief: Wind turbine infrasound and health
Video of the results of the research project

Additional information:
Anni Mikkonen, Finnish Wind Power Association
+358 40 771 6114