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The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) has opened a 60-day comment period on a report they commissioned together with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) about the effects that wind turbines may have on public health. The independent panel that was commissioned to issue the report was composed of physicians and scientists with broad expertise in areas including acoustical noise/infrasound, public health, sleep disturbance, mechanical engineering, epidemiology, and neuroscience. Three public meetings on the report will be held in February as part of a 60-day comment period.
Among the key findings of the panel are:
There is no evidence for a set of health effects from exposure to wind turbines that could be characterized as a "Wind Turbine Syndrome."
Claims that infrasound from wind turbines directly impacts the vestibular system have not been demonstrated scientifically. Available evidence shows that the infrasound levels near wind turbines cannot impact the vestibular system.
The weight of the evidence suggests no association between noise from wind turbines and measures of psychological distress or mental health problems.
None of the limited epidemiological evidence reviewed suggests an association between noise from wind turbines and pain and stiffness, diabetes, high blood pressure, tinnitus, hearing impairment, cardiovascular disease, and headache/migraine.
There is limited epidemiologic evidence suggesting an association between exposure to wind turbines and annoyance. There is insufficient epidemiologic evidence to determine whether there is an association between noise from wind turbines and annoyance independent from the effects of seeing a wind turbine and vice versa.
There is limited evidence from epidemiologic studies suggesting an association between noise from wind turbines and sleep disruption. In other words, it is possible that noise from some wind turbines can cause sleep disruption. Whether annoyance from wind turbines leads to sleep issues or stress has not been sufficiently quantified. While not based on evidence from wind turbines, there is evidence that sleep disruption can adversely affect mood, cognitive functioning, and overall sense of health and well-being.
Scientific evidence suggests that shadow flicker does not pose a risk for eliciting seizures as a result of photic stimulation. There is limited scientific evidence of an association between annoyance from prolonged shadow flicker (exceeding 30 minutes per day) and potential transitory cognitive and physical health effects.
Although beyond the scope of the original charge, two members of the panel - on their own initiative - also submitted to the agencies an addendum report focusing on a brief review of wind power in Denmark, Germany, Sweden, Vermont and Maine. That addendum report can be reviewed here.
Electronic comments can be submitted to: WindTurbineDocket.MassDEP@MassMail.State.MA.US
Written comments can be submitted to:
MassDEP Wind Turbine Docket
One Winter Street
Boston, MA 02108
Verbal and written comments may also be submitted at the following three public meetings:
Tuesday, February 14, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. - Gardner Auditorium in the Statehouse, 24 Beacon Street, Boston (Please note the updated location, moved from MA DOT to the Gardner Auditorium).
Thursday, February 16, from 5-8 p.m. - Bourne High School, Beth Bourne Auditorium, 75 Waterhouse Road, Bourne.
Tuesday, February 28, from 5-8 p.m. - The Lee Middle and High School Auditorium, 300 Greylock Street, Lee. Snow date: February 29th.