Wind Energy and Your Health

More than 52,000 wind turbines are in operation in the United States today, safely generating electricity for our nation. 

Wind energy is one of the healthiest forms of energy generation in the world because it releases no greenhouse gases, soot, or carbon into the atmosphere. It does not consume valuable fresh water or produce water pollution.

Apex wind projects are built in full compliance with local, state, and federal safety regulations to protect the health and welfare of landowners, maintenance teams, and others. 

Wind Energy is Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions

In 2015, 191 million megawatt-hours were generated by wind energy. This production avoided an estimated 132 million metric tons of CO2, the equivalent emissions of 28.1 million cars. 

The electricity generated in 2015 also displaced approximately 176,000 metric tons of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and 106,000 metric tons of nitrogen oxide (NOx), representing $7.3 billion in avoided health costs last year alone. 

        —American Wind Energy Association, "Wind Energy Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions," 2016

The American Lung Association has recognized the need for cleaner air in its Healthy Air Campaign, "Unhealthy air is hazardous to our families and even can threaten life itself." The campaign also supports a transition to a clean energy future, "..reforms to transmission and distribution policies that will encourage the expansion and delivery of clean, renewable, non-combustion energy resources."

        —American Lung Association, "Public Policy Position-Energy," June 25, 2015

Key Findings from Major Health Impact Studies

Government- and university-sponsored studies around the world have repeatedly confirmed that modern wind turbines pose no threat to public health. Over 17 independent reviews of the existing science on wind energy and health have reached the same conclusion:

“There is no evidence for a set of health effects from exposure to wind turbines that could be characterized as a ‘Wind Turbine Syndrome.’ 

— Massachusetts Department of Public Health, “Wind Turbine Health Impact Study: Report of Independent Expert Panel,” January 2012

Wind Turbine Sound

The sound of wind turbine blades passing through the air is often described as a “whoosh.” Measurements show that this sound is no louder than a kitchen refrigerator or air conditioning unit at a distance of 1,000 feet.

Low-frequency sound will be no different than waves on a beach and weaker than highway traffic, air conditioners, and other daily exposures.

Scientific evidence confirms that this sound is not dangerous and that any low-frequency waves produced are not harmful to those nearby.

“To date, no peer reviewed scientific journal articles demonstrate a causal link between people living in proximity to modern wind turbines, the noise (audible, low frequency noise, or infrasound) they emit and resulting physiological health effects.” 

 Knopper and Ollson, “Health Effects and Wind Turbines: A Review of the Literature,” Environmental Health 10:78 (2011)

“... low level frequency noise or infrasound emitted by wind turbines is minimal and of no consequence ... Further, numerous reports have concluded that there is no evidence of health effects arising from infrasound or low frequency noise generated by wind turbines.” 

— Australian Government, National Health and Medical Research Council, “Wind Turbines and Health,” July 2010

Shadow Flicker

This term refers to the shadows cast by wind turbine blades as they rotate in front of the sun, similar to the shadow cast by a tree blowing in the wind. By positioning wind turbines at a carefully calculated angle and distance from dwellings, Apex ensures that most homes in a project experience no shadowing at all. For those that do, shadowing will occur for no more than a few minutes per day, on average. Furthermore, because shadowing effects are weaker as you get farther from a turbine, these effects are often barely noticeable from residences. Shadowing does not occur on cloudy or foggy days. 

Furthermore, while some have claimed that shadow flicker can create risk of seizures in photosensitive individuals ...

“Scientific evidence suggests that shadow flicker [from the rotating blades of wind turbines] does not pose a risk for eliciting seizures as a result of photic stimulation.”

 Massachusetts Department of Public Health, “Wind Turbine Health Impact Study: Report of Independent Expert Panel,” January 2012

Ice Throw

In some wintry conditions, ice can accumulate on turbine blades. Sophisticated vibration sensors on the turbine blade automatically shut the turbine down when this occurs. In almost all cases, ice drops straight to the ground, just like icicles or snow sliding off a roof. Apex exceeds minimum setback requirements to make absolutely certain ice is not a risk to neighboring structures.