Health impact of wind farms
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Family Medicine Department, Wroclaw Medical University, Poland; Public Higher Medical Professional School in Opole, Poland
Public Health Department, Pomeranian Medical University in Szczecin, Poland
Public Higher Medical Professional School in Opole, Poland; Department of Physiotherapy, University School of Physical Education, Wroclaw, Poland
Ann Agric Environ Med 2013;20(3):595–604
[b]Introduction and objective:[/b] Wind power is employed worldwide as an alternative source of energy. At the same time, however, the health effects of wind turbines have become a matter of discussion. The purpose of this study is a critical review of available reports providing arguments both for and against the construction of wind farms. The authors also attempt to propose recommendations in accordance with the Evidence-Based Medicine (EBM) guidelines. In the case of exposure to wind farms, a randomized controlled trial (RCT) is impossible. To obtain the highest-level recommendations, analysis of case-control studies or cohort studies with control groups should be performed. Preferably, it should include geostatistical analysis conducted with the use of variograms and the kriging technique. Combinations of key words were entered into the Thomson Reuters Web of Knowledge [sup]SM[/sup] and the Internet search engine Google. [b]Short description of state of the art:[/b] The nuisance caused by wind turbines is stereotypically linked with the noise that they produce. Nevertheless, the visual aspect of wind farms, opinions about them, and sensitivity to sound seem to be of the greater importance. To date, the direct correlations between the vicinity of modern wind farms, the noise that wind turbines make, and possible consequences to health have not been described in peer reviewed articles. Health effects are more probably associated with some environmental factors leading to annoyance or frustration. All types of studies share the same conclusion: wind turbines can provoke annoyance. As with any project involving changes in the local environment, a certain level of irritation among the population can be expected. There are elected officials and government representatives who should decide what level of social annoyance is acceptable, and whether wind power advantages outweigh its potential drawbacks. The influence of wind turbines on human emotional and physical health is a relatively new field of research. Further analyses of these issues are justified, especially because none of the studies published in peer-reviewed journals so far meet the criteria for cohort or case-control studies. [b]Summary:[/b] Due to methodology, currently available research results do not allow for higher than C-level recommendations. In the case of wind farms, the ideal types of research would be: a retrospective observation of a particular group of residents before and after the wind farm construction, case-control studies or cohort studies with control groups matched in respect of socioeconomic factors, predisposition for chronic diseases, exposure to environmental risk factors, and only one variable which would differentiate cases from controls – the distance between place of residence and a wind farm.