Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

Government to study health effects of wind turbine noise

A wind farm in operation on a farm in Southwestern Ontario.

Randall Moore/The Globe and Mail

The federal government is wading into the contentious question of whether the noise from wind turbines can harm people's health, by launching a rigorous research study of the issue.

Health Canada said Tuesday that it will conduct the study in conjunction with Statistics Canada, to look at the connection between turbine noise and health effects in people living near wind power developments.

"This study is in response to questions from residents living near wind farms about possible health effects of low frequency noise generated by wind turbines," said Minister of Health Leona Aglukkaq. The research, she said, will paint "a more complete picture of the potential health impacts of wind turbine noise."

Story continues below advertisement

The study plans to focus on 2,000 homes – ranging from as close as 500 metres to as far as five kilometres, from eight to 12 wind installations. It will take measurement from individuals' blood pressure and hair samples, and interviews will be conducted to ask about annoyance, sleep quality and stress. It will also take noise measurements. The results – which will be peer-reviewed – are set to be published in 2014.

The government posted its proposed research methods on a website for a 30-day comment period. Feedback will be reviewed by a committee, which will include experts in noise, health assessment, clinical medicine and epidemiology.

While the wind industry has always claimed that there is no evidence of direct health impacts from turbines, anti-wind advocates say there are ample anecdotal reports proving that people are suffering a range of symptoms because of the installations.

Many anti-wind groups have also demanded that governments conduct more research to delve into the issue. On Tuesday, Jane Wilson, president of an anti-wind group Wind Concerns Ontario, called for an immediate stop to approvals of large-scale wind projects in that province until the results are in from the federal study.

Robert Hornung, president of the Canadian Wind Energy Association, which represents the industry, said the new study will make a valuable contribution to the ongoing research on wind turbine effects. However, he said, "we believe the balance of scientific evidence pretty clearly shows that wind turbines do not have an impact on human health."

Report an error Licensing Options
About the Author
Reporter, Report on Business

Richard Blackwell has reported on Canadian business for more than three decades. At the Financial Post and the Globe and Mail he has covered technology, transportation, investing, banking, securities and media, among many other subjects. Currently, his focus is on green technology and the economy. More


The Globe invites you to share your views. Please stay on topic and be respectful to everyone. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.

Please note that our commenting partner Civil Comments is closing down. As such we will be implementing a new commenting partner in the coming weeks. As of December 20th, 2017 we will be shutting down commenting on all article pages across our site while we do the maintenance and updates. We understand that commenting is important to our audience and hope to have a technical solution in place January 2018.

Discussion loading… ✨