In 2009, NHMRC conducted a rapid review of current scientific literature to determine whether there was a link between wind turbines and adverse health effects. The review considered the potential health impacts of infrasound, noise, electromagnetic interference, shadow flicker and blade glint produced by wind turbines and concluded that, at the time of writing, there was no published scientific evidence to positively link wind turbines with adverse health effects.
In July 2010, NHMRC released NHMRC Public Statement: Wind Turbines and Health and supporting evidence Wind Turbines and Health: A rapid review of the evidence. The Public Statement recommends that, to minimise any potential impacts of wind turbines on surrounding areas, authorities take a precautionary approach and continue to monitor research outcomes. Members of the public are urged to contact their doctor if they have any individual health concerns.
Residents living close to wind farms have raised concerns about potential adverse health impacts from wind turbines including nausea, headaches, anxiety and sleep and learning difficulties.
Current Activities - Systematic Literature Review
NHMRC is continuing to investigate the impact of wind farms on human health. Building on the outcomes of the Scientific Forum in June 2011, NHMRC is currently undertaking a systematic review of the existing scientific literature to examine the possible impacts of wind farms on human health, including audible and inaudible noise.
The NHMRC Wind Farms and Human Health Reference Group (the Reference Group) has been convened to oversee the systematic review of the literature. The Reference Group comprises experts in environmental epidemiology, sleep, social psychology, acoustics/sound engineering and a community representative.
The review will consider a wide range of evidence, comprising both peer reviewed and non-peer reviewed (‘grey’) literature. To ensure all emerging research has been captured, in September 2012 NHMRC conducted a call for submissions of evidence for consideration in the systematic review.
The outcomes of the review will be considered by the Reference Group and will inform whether the 2010 Public Statement requires revision. The systematic review will also identify critical gaps in the current evidence base and areas for further research. NHMRC will carefully consider the need for further research upon completion of the review.
Progress of the review
This section will be regularly updated to reflect the current status of the review and expected timing for upcoming activities.
NHMRC’s systematic literature review, along with any revisions to the Public Statement, is expected to be released for public consultation in the second half of 2013.
This is later than originally expected for a number of reasons, including:
- the complex, technical nature of some of the subject matter;
- the comprehensive nature of the review and its broad scope;
- the importance of allowing sufficient time to properly consider the literature, including the substantial volume of literature submitted to NHMRC from stakeholders; and
- the robust quality assurance process that supports all NHMRC health advice products.
Terms of Reference for the Wind Farms and Human Health Reference Group
The Wind Farms and Human Health Reference Group will:
- Guide the development of a systematic review to determine if new evidence exists in the scientific literature on possible health effects of wind farms.
Consider the outcomes of the review and use these findings to:
- Inform updating NHMRC’s Public Statement: Wind Turbines and Human Health; and
- Identify critical gaps in the current evidence base.
- Provide the NHMRC’s Prevention and Community Health Care Committee with a report on Wind Farms and Human Health.
Appointments to the Wind Farms and Human Health Reference Group commenced on 1 February 2012 and were originally scheduled to conclude on 30 June 2013. Appointments have been extended to 31 January 2015.
Public Statement and Evidence Review - July 2010
- Public Statement: Wind Turbines and Health - July 2010
- Evidence Review: Wind Turbines and Health: A Rapid Review of the Evidence - July 2010
For further information please contact NHMRC at email@example.com.