March 25, 2006

French Academy of Medicine warns of wind turbine noise

Ventdubocage has posted a report from the National Academy of Medicine in France, "Le retentissement du fonctionnement des éoliennes sur la santé de l'homme" ("Repercussions of wind turbine operations on human health"). Click here for the 192-KB PDF.

Following is a translation of a notice of the report by Dr. Chantal Gueniot in "Panorama du Médecin," 20 March 2006:

Wind turbines: The Academy cautious

The harmful effects of sound related to wind turbines are insufficiently assessed, warns the Academy.

Wind turbines, which are multiplying throughout the French countryside, will have to be considered as industrial installations and to comply, by that fact, to specific regulations that take account of the harmful effects of sound as particularly produced by these structures, determined a working group assembled by the National Academy of Medicine and presided over by professor Claude-Henri Chouard (Paris).

People living near the towers, the heights of which vary from 10 to 100 meters, sometimes complain of functional disturbances similar to those observed in syndromes of chronic sound trauma. Studies conducted in the neighborhoods of airports have clearly demonstrated that chronic invasive sound involves neurobiological reactions associated with an increased frequency of hypertension and cardiovascular illness. Unfortunately, no such study has been done near wind turbines. But, the sounds emitted by the blades being low frequency, which therefore travel easily and vary according to the wind, they constitute a permanent risk for the people exposed to them.

Since 2 July 2003, the law has required a construction permit for wind turbines over 12 meters, including an impact study if their [combined] power is over 2.5 megawatts. An investigation conducted by the Ddass [Direction Départementale des Affaires Sanitaires et Sociales] in Saint-Crépin (Charent-Maritime) revealed that sound levels 1 km from an installation occasionally exceeded allowable limits. While waiting for precise studies of the risks connected with these installations, the Academy recommend halting wind turbine construction closer than 1.5 km from residences.

wind power, wind energy, wind farms, wind turbines, environment, environmentalism