Austrian Medical Association Issues Warning, Calls for Comprehensive Studies on Wind Turbine Noise

AUSTRIA – National Noise Day 30th April, 2014:

The Medical Chamber (equivalent to the Austrian Medical Association) is issuing a warning on behalf of large-scale wind turbine installations. The Chamber is calling for comprehensive studies on potential negative health effects as well as minimum safety distances to populated areas.

Vienna – Noise problems, caused by the operation of wind turbines, are drawing increasingly more attention from scientists. This was pointed out todday, Wednesday, by the Medical Chamber on the occasion of the International Noise Awareness Day. The Medical Chambe is now calling for comprehensive studies on potential negative health effects as well as a minimum safety distance to populated areas.

Wind power plants are – as opposed to individual wind turbines – very large scale operations and clustered into “wind parks”. The rotor diameter of current turbines can measure up to 114 metres – almost the length of a soccer pitch. Rotational speeds of the rotor blades lie in between 270 and 300km/h, which is causing distinct acoustic patterns and noise.

This is the point the Medical Chamber is making: “It has to be our objective to prevent sleep disorders, psychological effects and irreversible hearing damages, as they are also caused by wind farms” says Piero Lercher, the Chamber’s spokesperson for environmental medicine.

As complaints from residents about excessive and especially low-frequency noise and infrasound near wind farms are mounting, full scale investigations of potentially health-damaging effects are indispensable.

The phenomena currently observed in connection with the operations of large-scale wind power plants justify the demand for adequate safety distances – which is consistent with most expert’s view on following a precautionary principle on that issue. Says Lercher: impairments of well-being have to be taken seriously from a medical perspective, even if they are frequently attributed to a so-called “nocebo” phenomenon.

Lercher requires from manufacturers the use of environmentally friendly technologies and substances. “For example, so-called “permanently exited generators” contain large amounts of rare earths, whose mining processes lead to toxic and radioactive contaminations of vast areas in the mining regions” warns the environmental physician.