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Jon Greenberg
By Jon Greenberg April 8, 2019

Donald Trump's ridiculous link between cancer, wind turbines

"Idiotic," said Sen. Chuck Grassley.

"It’s ridiculous," said Sen. Joni Ernst.

Iowa’s two Republican senators were talking about President Donald Trump’s comment that windmills cause cancer.

Trump made the off-hand remark at a fundraiser for the National Republican Congressional Committee. As he often does, Trump attacked wind power as an energy source. (We checked his recent Mostly False claim that it leaves electric grids at the mercy of the wind.)

"If you have a windmill anywhere near your house, congratulations, your house just went down 75 percent in value," Trump told his fellow Republicans April 2.  "And they say the noise causes cancer."

We asked the White House for evidence that wind turbine noise causes cancer. We didn’t hear back.

The health impact of wind turbines has been a topic of much conjecture. The Australian parliament took the question seriously enough to form a Select Committee on Wind Turbines. The group was sympathetic to personal reports of discomfort, and the list of ailments it heard was long: "tinnitus, raised blood pressure, heart palpitations, tachycardia, stress, anxiety, vertigo, dizziness," and more.

But no one complained of cancer. In its final 2015 report, the committee said more evidence was needed to establish a link to any illness.

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Meanwhile, the Australian Medical Association said, "The available Australian and international evidence does not support the view that the infrasound or low frequency sound generated by wind farms, as they are currently regulated in Australia, causes adverse health effects on populations residing in their vicinity. "

A 2014 review in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine of scientific studies found that "epidemiological studies have shown associations between living near wind turbines and annoyance."  And that "annoyance seems more strongly related to individual characteristics than noise from turbines."

So annoyance, yes. Cancer? No.

Trump’s words were particularly unwelcome in Iowa. The Hawkeye State gets nearly 40 percent of its electric power from wind — more than any other state.

A couple of days after Trump spoke, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds kicked off an initiative to expand wind turbines in her state. Reynolds dodged questions about Trump’s statement, saying it wasn’t her place to comment.

But Sen. Ernst had no reservations.

"It’s ridiculous," she said April 4 (listen at 2:20). "Wind energy is just a tremendous asset for the state of Iowa. We are so fortunate to have so much of our electric drawn from a clean power source."

Our ruling

Trump said windmill noise causes cancer. The White House provided no evidence. No study supports the statement.

Echoing Iowa’s Republican senators, we rate this ridiculous statement Pants on Fire.

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Pants on Fire
"The noise (from windmills) causes cancer."
In a speech at a National Republican Congressional Committee dinner
Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Our Sources

Donald Trump, Remarks at National Republican Congressional Committee dinner, April 2, 2019

Bulletin of Science, Technology and Society, Properly Interpreting the Epidemiologic Evidence About the Health Effects of Industrial Wind Turbines on nearby residents, 2011

Frontiers in Public Health, Wind turbines and human health, June 19, 2014

Inter.Noise, "Big Noise Data" for wind turbines, 2016

Parliament of Australia, The need for more evidence-based health advice on the impact of wind turbines on human health, 2015

Australian Medical Association, Wind Farms and Health, March 18, 2014

Journal of  Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Wind Turbines and Health A Critical Review of the Scientific Literature, November 2014

U.S. Energy Department, Iowa: State profile, March 15, 2018

Des Moines Register, Two days after Trump claims wind farms cause cancer, Iowa leaders push for more wind energy investment in the state, April 4, 2019

Daily Mail, Trump is widely mocked on Twitter after claiming that the noise from windmills causes cancer, April 3, 2019

WHO-TV, Sen. Ernst Calls President Trump’s Wind Energy Comments ‘Ridiculous’, Governor Remains Silent, April 4, 2019

CNN, Grassley: Trump's claim that noise from wind turbines causes cancer was 'idiotic', April 4, 2019

Tampa Bay Times, Marco Rubio was asked about Trump’s false wind turbine cancer claim. Here’s what he said., April 6, 2019

Email interview, Michael Zona, press secretary, Office of Sen. Chuck Grassley, April 8, 2019

 

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