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Wind Turbine Health Impact Study: Report of the Independent Expert Panel (2012) February 23, 2012 MCAN Steering Committee Meeting

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Presentation on theme: "Wind Turbine Health Impact Study: Report of the Independent Expert Panel (2012) February 23, 2012 MCAN Steering Committee Meeting"— Presentation transcript:

1 Wind Turbine Health Impact Study: Report of the Independent Expert Panel (2012) February 23, 2012 MCAN Steering Committee Meeting

2 Presentation Outline MassDEP in middle of public meetings Background information on the report – Goals of the panels mission and report – Process Report Findings – Health effects – Best practices Next Steps

3 Purpose of the Public Meetings To encourage members of the public to read the report for themselves and submit written comments Listening sessions for MassDEP & MDPH to hear comments from interested members of the public Describe the process involved in convening the Panel and the process followed by the Panel in developing their report

4 We seek your comment on: What are your thoughts on the information contained in the report? Are there other reports and information we should consider that were not included in the report? Do you have comments on the panels findings on wind turbine and health impacts? Are there additional best practices and/or modification to the panels recommended best practices that we should consider?

5 We also seek your comments on: What next steps should be taken in response to the Panels Report and its findings? Are there short and longer term actions that you think are warranted? Other topics/issues?

6 Goals of the Panels Mission and Report To proactively address concerns raised by the public about wind turbine exposures To convene an independent panel of experts to identify existing documented or potential health impacts associated with proximity to wind turbines. To generate a report to advance public dialogue on the issues using the best available science

7 Overall Process for Addressing Wind Turbine Issues in MA Develop Scope of Work & Convene Independent Experts Independent Expert Panel Report For Review Receive Public Comments and Deliberate on Next Step

8 NameAffiliationExpertise Jeffrey Ellenbogen, MMSc, MD Director of the Division of Sleep, MGH Department of Neurology, Sleep Medicine Program Assistant Professor, Harvard Medical School MD, Neurology, Sleep Medicine Masters in Medical Science BA Sheryl GraceAssociate Professor of Mechanical Engineering Boston University College of Engineering PhD, MS Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering MS, BS Applied Mathematics Wendy J. Heiger- Bernays, PhD Department of Environmental Health Boston University School of Public Health (BU SPH) Chair, Lexington Board of Health PhD Biochemistry BS Biology James F. Manwell, Ph.D. Professor Director of the Wind Energy Center Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering University of Massachusetts PhD Mechanical Engineering MS Electrical & Computer Engineering BA Biophysics Dora Ann Mills, MD, MPH, FAAP Public Health Physician and Pediatrician Vice President for Clinical Affairs The University of New England, Maine MD, PhD MPH Harvard School of Public Health Kimberly Sullivan, Ph.D. Research Assistant Professor Department of Environmental Health Boston University School of Public Health PhD Behavioral Neuroscience BS Psychology Marc Weisskopf, Sc.D. Assistant Professor, Harvard School of Public Health Department of Environmental Health/Epidemiology ScD, Epidemiology PhD Neuroscience

9 Findings: Noise and Vibration by Wind Turbines The panel concluded that: Wind turbines can produce unwanted sound (noise). The design of the turbine is a factor: e.g., upwind versus downwind turbines; stall versus pitch-controlled turbines. Propagation of the sound is a function of distance and other factors include turbine placement, surrounding terrain and atmospheric conditions. Whooshing is perceived to increase in intensity at night (due to stability of atmosphere & lower ambient background noise). Infrasound (vibrations below 20 Hz) does not cause whooshing. The highest reported infrasound levels measured near wind turbines are under 90dB at 5 Hertz (Research has shown that vibrations below 100 dB – 100 dB are not felt). Pressure waves at any frequency can cause vibration in another structure or substance. For vibration to occur, the amplitude (height) of the wave has to be high enough and only structures or substances that have the ability to receive the wave will vibrate.

10 Key Health Findings Noise: The panel concluded that: 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 a possibility that noise from some wind turbines can cause sleep disruption. Sleep disruption has been shown to adversely affect mood, cognitive functioning, and overall sense of health and well-being, based on sound sources other than wind turbines. There is insufficient evidence that the noise from wind turbines is directly (i.e., independent from an effect on annoyance or sleep) causing health problems or disease.

11 Key Health Findings NOISE (Continued) : The panel concluded that: 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 no evidence for a set of health effects from exposure to wind turbines that could be characterized as a "Wind Turbine Syndrome."

12 Key Health Findings Shadow Flicker: The panel concluded that: Evidence suggests that shadow flicker does not pose a risk for eliciting seizures. There is limited evidence of an association between annoyance from prolonged shadow flicker (exceeding 30 minutes per day) and potential transitory cognitive and physical health effects. Ice Throw: The panel concludes that: Falling ice is physically harmful and measures should be taken to ensure the public will not encounter such ice.

13 Best Practices: The Panel Recommends: Noise limits be included as part of a statewide policy for new wind turbines installations. Also recommends an ongoing program of monitoring and evaluating the sound produced by wind turbines. Shadow flicker should not occur more than 30 minutes per day and not more than 30 hours per year at the point of concern. Activities in the vicinity of a wind turbine should be restricted during & immediately after icing events. Ice control measures for blades should be considered/demonstrated to work. Public participation should be encouraged for projects: directly involve residents in close proximity to projects. Engage the public through education and other incentives.

14 Best Practices: The Panel Recommends: Noise limits (see table) be included as part of a statewide policy for new wind turbines installations; consider other situations; consider trade-offs between environmental and health impacts of different energy sources, and goals for energy independence, potential extent of impacts, etc. Land Use Sound Pressure Levels (dBs) Nighttime levels Industrial70 Commercial50 Villages, mixed usage45 Sparsely populated areas, 8m/s wind44 Sparsely populated areas, 6m/s wind42 Residential areas, 8m/s wind39 Residential areas, 6m/s wind37

15 Public Comment Period Public comments period open until Monday, March 19 – Electronic comments can be submitted to: WindTurbineDocket.MassDEP@MassMail.State.MA.US WindTurbineDocket.MassDEP@MassMail.State.MA.US – Written comments can be submitted to: MassDEP Wind Turbine Docket, One Winter Street, Fourth Floor, Boston, MA 02108 Public Meetings – February 14, from 10 a.m-1 p.m. – Gardner Auditorium, State House, Boston – February 16, from 5-8 p.m. - Bourne High School, Beth Bourne Auditorium, 75 Waterhouse Road, Bourne. – February 28, from 5-8 p.m. - The Lee Middle and High School Auditorium, 300 Greylock Street, Lee. Snow date: February 29th. See:

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