The 'health promotion' charity status of the anti-wind group Waubra Foundation could come under the spotlight after the Australian Medical Association yesterday backed a raft of reviews finding there was no negative health impact from turbines.
The declaration comes after another health promotion charity gave up its eligibility for tax deductible donations in the wake of an official verdict that it made dubious health claims. The Australian Vaccination-skeptics (sic) Network surrendered its registered charity status after an investigation by the NSW Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing which saw medical experts question the group's claims about the risks and benefits of vaccination.
Hospitality Minister George Souris said yesterday that the charity was found to have been providing information on its website in a "very selective manner" and failing to accurately present an accurate account of the science on vaccine and immunisation.
The vaccination network said the surrendering of the license was unrelated to the investigation and was due to its "administrative burden", Fairfax Media reported.
The medical association's verdict on wind farm health comes hot on the heels of the draft findings of the government's recent independent review into the issue, conducted by the National Health and Medical Research Council, which found no health impacts but which didn't declare the issue over, saying existing research was of "low quality" and that more rigorous studies should be pursued.
But the AMA was not so circumspect, saying there was no evidence that wind farms have a negative impact on the health of people who live near them, citing "credible" Australian and international studies.
"The infrasound and low-frequency sound generated by modern wind farms in Australia is well below the level where known health effects occur," AMA vice-president Professor Geoffrey Dobb said in a statement.
"And there is no accepted physiological mechanism where sub-audible infrasound could cause health effects."
The AMA verdict will add weight to the Greens' calls for Waubra's charity status to be removed. The party's health spokesperson Richard Di Natale – a former GP and public health professional – late last year lodged a written complaint with both the Australian Charities and Not for Profits Commissioner and the Australian Tax Office on the issue.
“There is no scientific evidence to support the claim that wind turbine syndrome exists and surely an organisation must do more than promote a made-up illness to be considered a ‘health promotion charity’," he said in November.
“Not only are the Waubra Foundation’s claims false and misleading, there is evidence that they may actually be causing harm. Much like a placebo can lead to genuine health benefits, claiming that something is harmful can lead to real harms."
Indeed, Professor Dobb said there may be something to Dr Di Natale's claim that the health promotion charity could be causing harm if it was found to be promoting anxiety about wind farms.
"People living near wind farms who experience adverse health or wellbeing may well do so because of heightened anxiety or negative perceptions about wind farms," he said.
"The reporting of supposed health scares or the spreading of misinformation about wind farm developments may contribute to heightened anxiety."