In a recent WBOC newscast, Paul Harris, development manager for Pioneer Green’s Somerset County wind farm project, said there are “more than 20 peer-reviewed scientific studies that dispel health concerns related to turbines.”
I asked Harris to provide a list of these publications, which he did. Upon inspection, however, the list included only seven peer-reviewed literature reviews, none of which were experimental studies. Most of the list consisted of non peer-reviewed reports, some written by paid consultants for the wind industry.
Peer-reviewed experimental studies are important because they are the gold standard for scientific knowledge. As scientists conduct studies, they gather evidence, interpret the results and write a paper that is submitted for publication in a scientific journal.
Prior to publication, the journal sends the paper to anonymous reviewers who are experts on the topic. The expert reviewers are asked to provide a critique of the paper to ensure it meets rigorous scientific standards.
If the paper does not stand up to such scrutiny, it is not published. This process ensures the data provide the best information available and are as unbiased possible.
Contrary to Harris’s claims that industrial wind turbines pose no health risks, a quick literature search turned up more than 30 peer-reviewed studies showing negative health impacts from wind-turbine noise. Specifically, these studies include multiple human experiments demonstrating that industrial wind turbine-type noise affects human ear function and interferes with sleep.
The fact that communities continue to sue wind developers and utilities on the grounds that their quality of life and health has been compromised further reflects this reality.
Sadly, wind developers and local governments continue to ignore known health hazards and put profits before citizens.
Ryan Taylor of Westover is an associate professor of biology and bioacoustics at Salisbury University.