There are plenty of claims about wind turbines. The latest deals with the weather and how spinning turbines can fool satellites into thinking they’re rain, which could impede the forecasting of threatening weather systems.

We can drop laser-guided bombs in Afghanistan from drones piloted from California, but our technology cannot tell spinning steel from falling rain? This precipitation situation seems a minor cloudburst in turbine controversy; even the government admits it is easily rectified.

This doesn’t mean, though, all concerns with flimsy scientific foundations should be shrugged aside as cases of turbine paranoia. The potential health effects of turbines, for example, deserve to be taken seriously, given the significant concerns raised by doctors and turbine neighbors.

Public health is not a radar recognition issue with weather forecasting satellites or, in another example, the altitude needs of helicopters. It merits a deeper examination — even if only to quiet ears that are spurred by a lack of information about effects.

On Sunday, Dr. Dora Anne Mills, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, wrote an op-ed in the Maine Sunday Telegram, saying her analysis of the health impacts of turbines revealed limited effects. “I found no evidence of adverse health effects from the noise generated by wind turbines except for those associated with annoyances from the audible noises,” she wrote.

Proponents of greater health impacts, she added, are either citing non-peer reviewed sources (i.e. dubious) or are misinterpreting reliables studies. Her conclusion was that a moratorium on wind development is unnecessary, based on her findings.


We agree with Dr. Mills — there is not enough evidence to support a moratorium. Stopping this industry in its tracks in Maine, without evidence of serious effects, would be poor policy. Yet, it would be more reassuring if her opinion did not constitute the last words about the potential effects, rather the starting point for further, independent study of any potential health effects on humans from proximity to turbines. 

The Maine Medical Association has empaneled a subcommittee, under the auspices its public health committee, to do just that: review the health effects of turbines, including the encouragement of having independent studies conducted by neutral researchers, such as schools of public health.

This strikes us as the right approach — measured and practical. There is a lack of reliable information about the health effects of turbines; proponents and opponents of a moratorium each point to studies that buttress their respective claims. While this is a standard battle over policies, public health merits more attention and study.

There’s no harm in giving the possible health effects of turbines the fullest possible analysis, to counter the information vacuum now being filled by dueling claims. Though current evidence is nascent, given this industry’s rapid expansion in Maine, erring on the side of study would be wise. 

A third-party approach, as suggested by the MMA, makes good sense.

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