Wind Turbine Syndrome: It's All In Your Head
Image via: malamutechaos on Flickr.com
The American Wind Energy Association this week is citing a report lead by officials in the medical and audiology community that states that wind turbines are having no effect on human health. That's good to know, but then what is causing the "wind turbine syndrome" that so many people seem to be affected by?According to a panel of medical doctors, audiologists and acoustical professionals (which admittedly was established by the American Wind Energy Association and the Canadian Wind Energy Association), there is no possible way that the noise emitted or the vibrations from wind turbines are affecting health. According to Dr. Robert J. McCunney, one of the authors of the study and an occupational/environmental medicine physician and research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).,
"There is no evidence that the sounds, nor the sub-audible vibrations, emitted by wind turbines have any direct adverse physiological effects on humans."
The study also found that,
- "The sounds emitted by wind turbines are not unique. There is no reason to believe, based on the levels and frequencies of the sounds, that they could plausibly have direct adverse physiological effects."
- If sound levels from wind turbines were harmful, it would be impossible to live in a city given the sound levels normally present in urban environments.
- Sub-audible, low frequency sound and infrasound from wind turbines do not present a risk to human health."
- Some people may be annoyed at the presence of sound from wind turbines. Annoyance is not a pathological entity."
The researchers in this study included researchers from the United States, Canada, Denmark and the UK. Their mission: read through all of the available literature, research and studies done on wind turbines and health and determine whether there is an actual "wind turbine syndrome." Their findings are to be used to help establish more wind farms and to help in siting them. What they found is, "this study is another indication that wind is one of the most environmentally benign sources of electricity available," says AWEA CEO Denise Bodes. There are over 50,000 wind turbines in Europe and nearly 30,000 in the US and people have been living near them for over 30 years, most with no problems.
What is Wind Turbine Syndrome?
Some people feel that living close to wind turbines has given them heart disease, vertigo, panic attacks, insomnia and/or migraine headaches. The cause they say is low-frequency noise and vibrations from the constantly spinning turbines. The syndrome is still fairly new and while there have been studies done, they are still in the early stages and don't cover a very wide sample population so many scientists question whether there is any validity to them. The people who claim that they are affected by the turbines beg to differ and say bats and birds aren't the only victims of wind turbines.
To read the study yourself, you can find it online at the AWEA.