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Wind farms don't hurt people's health. But turns out some people find them annoying.

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Image: Flickr/Chuck Coker

We now have another study that confirms that there are no health impacts associated with living near wind farms.

The study, conducted by Health Canada at a cost of $2.1 million, agrees with the findings of the study by Ontario's Medical Officer of Health, which found no "causal link between wind turbine noise and adverse health effects.”"A study by the American Psychological Association  found the same. So have a myriad of other studies done over the years in multiple jurisdictions.

Health Canada's study found that there was no relationship between wind turbines and reports of trouble sleeping, incidence of self-reported illness, stress, or quality of life.

They did, however, find that some people are annoyed by wind farms. In the language of epidemiology, the study found a correlation, but not a causal relationship, between increasing levels of wind turbine noise and "annoyance."

The authors note that the levels of annoyance may be linked to other issues, such as health, overall economic well-being, even the amount of traffic nearby. Or, put another way, there are lots of things that annoy people, and some of these things may also be annoying people who live near wind farms, increasing their overall level of annoyance. But wind farms don’t damage people's health.

And, in an interesting, but not new finding, the study found that people who were benefiting from the wind farms, like the people who have wind farms on their property and get paid for the wind energy they generate, were much less annoyed.

To quote: "Annoyance was significantly lower among the 110 participants who received personal benefit, which could include rent, payments or other indirect benefits of having wind turbines in the area."  This suggests that the issue with wind is more about fairness and equity, rather than health.

One more interesting tidbit: the levels of annoyance in Ontario are higher than those P.E.I. Why might this be? Well, Ontario happens to be home to a virulent anti-wind movement, making Ontarians prone to what is sometimes called the "nocebo effect."

In the words of Simon Chapman, a professor of public health at the University of Sydney "wind turbine syndrome" is what is known as a "communicated" disease and it "spreads via the nocebo effect by being talked about."

Shocking as it may sound, where there is talk of potential health impacts related to wind farms, there are reports of health impacts related to wind farms.

But, thanks to Health Canada, we now have another study confirming that there are no actual health impacts related to wind farms.

So let's get on with building more of them, and make sure the benefits are spread more evenly.

Image: Flickr/Chuck Coker

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