Wind turbines in 2018

by Arline L. Bronzaft, Ph.D., Board of Directors, GrowNYC, and Co-founder, The Quiet Coalition

In October 1986, I presented a keynote address to the Community Noise Conference held in Toowoomba, co-sponsored by the Queensland Division of Noise Abatement and Air Pollution and the Australian Acoustical Society. The title of my talk was “Health Hazards of Noise.” In my talk, I spoke of noise as not just an urban phenomenon and gave examples of how residents in quieter communities can find themselves exposed to intrusive noises. One example I gave was the following:

Imagine how surprised a suburban couple were to wake up one morning to the sound of a windmill erected in the neighbor’s backyard.

In the 1980s we spoke of windmills, not wind turbines. Yet, in 1981, I actually had a court case involving a backyard windmill that was impacting on the health and well-being of a nearby neighbor. The judge in this case acknowledged the discomfort brought about by the windmill’s noise.

Now thirty years after my talk in Australia and after the court case cited above, we have a finding by an Australian Council regarding a wind farm stating that “noise is audible frequently within individual residences and this noise is adversely impacting on the personal comfort and wellbeing of individuals.” In several U.S. cases, courts have asked wind power operators to buy out noise-affected neighbors. A majority of the wind turbine cases argued in Australia, New Zealand, the U.S., Europe, and Canada, however, have found that wind turbine noise would not affect health adversely. This, despite the fact that there are published papers noting that the sounds produced by wind turbines are not being assessed properly and a number of studies reporting a link between wind turbine noise and potential health impacts.

Considering the growth of evidence suggesting the harmful impacts of wind turbine sounds on health, I believe that we need to continue to examine this link before we forge ahead in siting industrial wind turbines. And we also must continue to monitor the legal challenges to wind turbine impacts internationally.

Dr. Arline Bronzaft is a researcher, writer, and consultant on the adverse effects of noise on mental and physical health. She is co-author of “Why Noise Matters,” author of “Listen to the Raindrops” (children’s book illustrated by Steven Parton), and has written extensively about noise in books, encyclopedias, academic journals, and the popular press.  In addition, she is a Professor Emerita of the City University of New York and Board member of GrowNYC.

Comments (7)

  1. Marco D'ALESSANDRO

    J’ai besoin de témoignages pouvez-vous m’en envoyer ? Merci

    Reply
  2. Ben

    This is not wrong! But all means of generating power cause harm. More data on the harm caused by wind power are needed, and must be balanced against the harm caused by the alternatives. At least the harm caused by wind is largely local, and thus a lot easier to manage than that caused by toxic metals, GHGs, fracking fluids, etc…

    Reply
    1. Brenda Herrick

      Wind may not cause much environmental harm but turbines certainly do. They contain toxic metals, they have huge concrete bases, they leak oil into the ground, they catch fire which cannot be extinguished, they pollute water supplies, thousands of trees are felled to clear their sites resulting in loss of wildlife habitat – often protected species, they kill millions of birds and bats, all for what – an intermittent, unreliable supply of electricity.

      Reply
  3. Mark Twichell

    People who are negatively impacted by wind turbine noise are also acutely aware of the failure of the wind industry to deliver meaningful reductions of CO2 emissions. These folks are living in sacrifice zones surrounded by spinning crucifixes offering absolution for the sins of climate guilt.

    Reply
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