Living near wind plant doesn’t cause higher drugs use

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Living near wind plant doesn’t cause higher drugs use

Living in the proximity of wind power plants has not increased the use of prescription drugs, according to a new study commissioned by the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL).

The study funded by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health found that the use of medicines near wind power plants before and after the start of wind power production was not more common than it was in reference areas in the same period, said the THL in a press release on Wednesday.

Furthermore, the number of prescription drug users was not higher after the start of wind power production when compared with an equivalent period before the production started.

“In other words, living near wind power plants appeared not to be associated with negative health effects that are reflected as symptoms or illnesses requiring pharmacotherapy. This supports the results of previously published international and national studies. Currently, research has only shown that broadband sound from wind turbines can cause annoyance and sleep disturbance. The current understanding is that the health effects of wind turbine noise do not differ from those caused by other environmental noise sources”, said Anu Turunen, Senior Researcher at THL.

As the potential health effects of wind turbines, especially infrasound, have raised questions in Finland as well, THL used data on reimbursed drug purchases from Finland's Social Insurance Institution (Kela) to see if the use of medicines has increased in the proximity of wind energy production areas after the start of wind power production compared with the situation before the start of production.

The research involved drugs used in diabetes and cardiovascular diseases, drugs affecting the nervous system, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and antirheumatic products. Of special interest among drugs for cardiovascular diseases were antiarrhythmics, and among drugs affecting the nervous system anxiolytics, hypnotics and sedatives, antidepressants, analgesics, and antivertigo preparations.

The study involved all wind power production areas that were launched in Finland in 2011–2017 and having no less than three wind turbines with a nominal power of at least 2.3 megawatts.

All residential buildings within ten kilometres around each wind power production area were identified with the help of the Topographic Database and the property register of the National Land Survey of Finland.

The Digital and Population Data Services Agency selected all 145,621 people aged 25‒75 who lived in the identified buildings at the time of the launch.

Information on their use of medicines came from purchases registered in the Kela Prescription Register.


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