Examining whether wind farm emissions may affect human health is complex, due to the nature of the emissions and individual perceptions are highly variable. After careful consideration and deliberation of the body of evidence, NHMRC concludes there is currently no consistent evidence that wind farms cause adverse health effects in humans.
The NHMRC Statement: Evidence on Wind Farms and Human Health was prepared on the advice of the Council of NHMRC after consideration of a comprehensive assessment of the evidence.
The separate NHMRC Information Paper: Evidence on Wind Farms and Human Health provides Australians with a summary of the evidence on the possible health effects of wind farms in humans (with a particular focus on noise, shadow flicker and electromagnetic radiation) and explains how NHMRC developed its summary based on the findings of independent reviews of the evidence. NHMRC’s Wind Farms and Human Health Reference Group guided the development of the Information Paper and provided scientific advice on the interpretation of the evidence.
The NHMRC Statement and Information Paper updates NHMRC’s previous work on this issue and replaces the 2010 NHMRC Public Statement: Wind Turbines and Health and supporting evidence Wind Turbines and Health: A rapid review of the evidence. Both documents are available on the Australian Government Web archive.
Before being finalised, a NHMRC Draft Information Paper: Evidence on Wind Farms and Human Health was released for public consultation and expert review. Details of the key issues raised during these processes can be found in the Public consultation: Summary of key issues and the Expert review: Summary of key issues. Non-confidential public consultation submissions are available on the NHMRC Public Consultations website. The full comments provided by each expert reviewer can be found below.
Further details on the development of the NHMRC Statement, Information Paper and background documents can be found in the Administrative Report.
NHMRC has addressed the Frequently Asked Questions regarding the review on wind farms and human health.
Comprehensive assessment of the scientific evidence
The NHMRC Statement and Information Paper were informed by the findings of two comprehensive reviews of the scientific evidence into the possible health effects of wind farms.
Independent review conducted by Adelaide Health Technology Assessment
The Systematic review of the human health effects of wind farms was undertaken by independent reviewers from Adelaide Health Technology Assessment under the guidance of the Reference Group. To ensure all emerging research was captured, in September 2012 NHMRC conducted a call for submissions of evidence for consideration in the independent evidence review. The review considered a wide range of evidence published up to October 2012.
The outcomes of the independent review were finalised in late 2013 and 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 review was released by NHMRC in February 2014 as a background document, accompanying the draft Information Paper which was released for public consultation. Minor corrections to the contents of this report were published in February 2015.
Additional review of evidence conducted by Monash University
To ensure that the Information Paper was informed by all the relevant evidence, the Review of additional evidence for NHMRC Information Paper: Evidence on Wind Farms and Human Health was conducted by a collaborative team from the Australasian Cochrane Centre and the Monash Centre for Occupational and Environmental Health at Monash University. The review included new evidence published from October 2012 up to May 2014, and also considered the references submitted during public consultation and expert review of the draft Information Paper.