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Questions stirred up by inaudible sound waves

Can inaudible sound waves caused by wind turbines lead to adverse health effects?

Nobody can really answer that question, North Stormont council has been told by the Eastern Ontario Health Unit.

“No conclusive statements are possible on wind turbines and infrasound in the absence of evidence,” Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Paul Roumeliotis wrote in a letter to the municipality.

Infrasound, also known as low-frequency sound, describes sound waves with a frequency below the lower limit of audibility, generally 20 Hz.

Health unit staff reviewed independent reviews on wind turbine and health by Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, the Council of Canadian Academies’ Report and Public Health Ontario’s evidence review in 2018. The EOHU has also reviewed the Health Canada Community Noise and Health Study, and specific studies and reports submitted by community members.

“Adverse health effects that have been questioned and examined relating to exposure to wind turbines include heart disease, diabetes, lung disease, mental illness, sleep disturbance, and brain function problems. To date, there is no evidence of adverse health outcomes from sound waves from wind turbines at the required setback distances for Ontario,” Dr. Roumeliotis wrote.

“The EOHU recommends that wind turbine projects be treated similarly to other development projects, reducing noise and community impact when possible, and engaging the community in consultation and community involvement when possible,” the letter continued.

“The EOHU will continue to work with partner agencies including your municipality to address area residents’ concerns and ensure that the Nation Rise project is completed and operated in accordance with all standards and regulations.”