There are currently over 1.3 million homes located within five miles of a large wind turbine, according to Berkeley Lab. This means there are millions of people in the U.S. who have experience living near wind turbines. Recent research finds that the majority of these people are positive or neutral about their local wind project.
When a wind farm is proposed in a community there are a number of factors for local landowners to consider. Wind developers work with neighbors to ensure turbines are minimally disruptive.
As the blades of a wind turbine spin, they create a "whoosh" sound. Turbines are also installed in windy areas, where the wind blowing makes sound at all hours. Typically, two people can carry on a conversation at normal voice levels even while standing below a turbine on a windy day.
Since wind projects are installed in rural areas, nearby residents are usually accustomed to a quiet environment. They are not exposed to air plane flight paths or heavy traffic like those living in cities may be. Therefore some residents living near proposed or existing wind projects may have concerns about how the new sound may affect them.
Studies show no evidence for direct human health effects from wind turbines
Millions of people around the world live near and work at operating wind turbines without health effects. Allegations of health-related impacts are not supported by science.
The rotating blades of a wind turbine can cause a shadow effect to occur. Nearby homes may experience this “shadow flicker” effect, which typically lasts just a few minutes near sunrise and sunset. Working with the wind farm operator, the effect can often be addressed through use of proven mitigation techniques such as screening plantings.
Prior to construction, wind developers will model the shadows from moving blades based on sun’s angle, turbine location, and distance to homes receptor. Because of this sophisticated modeling, shadows are predictable and turbines can be sited to minimize flicker to a few hours a year.
Positive effects of wind energy
Consideration of any potential health effects related to wind turbine sound should always include the benefits of wind energy for the environment and public health. Wind energy is an inexhaustible resource that generates no pollution or hazardous waste. It does not deplete fresh water resources, and requires no mining, transportation, or refining of a feedstock or fuel. Further, electricity produced by wind farms displaces electricity from other sources. Wind power thus has a direct and immediate benefit to health impacts associated with air pollution, such as asthma.