Oregon health dep't: Turbines are safe, but caution needed

The state's turbine noise standards aren't harmful to residents' health, according to Oregon officials.

The state's turbine noise standards aren't harmful to residents' health, according to Oregon officials.

The Oregon Public Health Division has recommended that wind energy planners and developers need to minimize the noise generated by wind turbines.

The report urged industry types to "evaluate and implement strategies to minimize noise generation when outdoor levels exceed Oregon’s standards for wind turbine noise."

However, current state noise standards for turbines aren't harmful to the public's health, according to the Division.

Industry leaders also need to recognize, and report, health issues that could arise from the projects.

The report stems from concerns of Columbia Gorge area residents who'd asked the state to examine health impacts, from vibration and noise, related to wind turbines.

Union County residents had also voted down a turbine project in 2010 because of health concerns.

The state revealed that health effects "most directly related to wind energy facilities are from noise and shadow flicker; however, wind energy facilities can also have indirect impacts through changes in air pollution, economic effects, and community conflict."

The state added that many factors influence how people respond to and are affected by noise, making it difficult to predict the effects of specific noise levels or sources.

Examiners deemed that Oregon’s ambient degradation noise standard of 36 dBA for wind energy facilities isn't harmful to public health."

However, landowners who waive this standard may experience noise levels that could result in sleep disturbance and moderate to serious annoyance," they wrote.

Turbines could further reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, as well as bring economic benefits to Oregon communities, the state opined.

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