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 recommended 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 were urged to contact their doctor if they have any individual health concerns.
Some residents living close to wind farms continue to raise concerns about potential adverse health impacts from wind turbines including nausea, headaches, anxiety and sleep and learning difficulties.
NHMRC’s systematic review of the evidence
In March 2011, the Senate Community Affairs References Committee conducted an inquiry into the Social and Economic Impacts of Rural Wind Farms. NHMRC provided a written submission to the inquiry and also appeared before the Committee. The Committee’s report was tabled in parliament on 23 June 2011.
Building on the outcomes of the Scientific Forum in June 2011, NHMRC commissioned an independent 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) was 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 considered 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 independent evidence review.
The outcomes of the review were considered by the Reference Group to inform the development of a draft Information Paper on the evidence on wind farms and human health. The independent review also identified gaps in the current evidence base to inform the Reference Group’s recommendations for further research.
The independent evidence review on the health effects of wind farms commissioned by NHMRC is now available on the NHMRC website here.
NHMRC Draft Information Paper: Evidence on Wind Farms and Human Health
A NHMRC Draft Information Paper: Evidence on Wind Farms and Human Health was open for public consultation from Monday 24 February 2014 until Friday, 11 April 2014.
The draft Information Paper provides Australians with a summary of the evidence on whether wind farms cause health effects in humans, as well as an overview of the process by which the evidence was identified, critically appraised and interpreted by the Reference Group.
NHMRC is now considering the submissions that were received during public consultation. Any new high quality literature that was not included in the independent evidence review will be considered in finalising NHMRC’s Information Paper and the 2010 Public Statement will be amended if necessary.
A Targeted Call for Research is anticipated to be announced once all submissions have been considered and the Information Paper has been finalised.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.