The issue of health effects of wind turbines is a late addition to my research. I’ve held off because, although the noise, flicker, vibration etc of turbines could conceivably cause health problems, the evidence I’ve seen until recently has not been totally persuasive. A number of people living close to turbines have complained about these various effects, but that doesn’t necessarily translate to health problems. Unfortunately, over time, the evidence is building up. More and more doctors are starting to speak out about the symptoms they’ve noticed and how they seem to be directly related to turbine exposure.
Thus far the argument between proponents and opponents has quite a deja-vu aspect to it. Something is created (a drug, a wind farm, a new chemical, cigarettes, whatever) and the creators make a lot of money from it. After some length of time people exposed to the creation start noticing health symptoms. It takes a while, but finally there’s enough correlation between the creation and the symptoms to get someone’s attention. The creators impede the following investigations in any way they can – hiding data, misrepresenting data, hiring pr firms, attacking the detractors. I think we’ve all seen the script. Eventually the evidence becomes overwhelming and the government regulates and/or the lawyers descend. But until all this happens, people are harmed.
Unfortunately, that utterly predictable scenario is now playing out. Somewhere around a thousand people from all around the world have publicly complained about health effects that seem to coincide with the turbines. I have collected a sampling of them in my Health Arguments of Opponents Page. The proponents have mounted a competing campaign which I have documented and critiqued in my Health Arguments of Proponents Page.
As you read through the proponents’ arguments you’ll notice the most they can say is something to the effect that there is no direct harm that can be scientifically proved. This should sound familiar to anyone over 40. Some of the proponents’ studies are included on my bad science pages.
What the opponents are asking for seems quite reasonable to me, especially considering that if wind turbines are installed on the scale our political leaders are envisioning there will be tens of thousands of people living too close for comfort to these industrial plants.
Presently there are six major health impacts that are in the news. They are:
- Sleep disturbance by audible (generally low-frequency) noise. This is widely reported. The wind industry and the government seem to regard this as an insignificant problem. I can’t imagine anyone not on their payroll agreeing with them. Dr. Hanning has published an excellent report on the topic.
- Stress induced by audible (generally low-frequency) noise. This is widely reported. The wind industry and the government seem to think that this is “all in your head”. While that may be true in a strict sense, stress – regardless of how it is induced – is a health problem.
- Noise/pressure interference with balance mechanisms, which in turn causes a surprisingly long list of health complaints. This is the primary topic of Dr. Pierpont’s book.
- Vibro-Acoustic Disease, or VAD. This is Dr. Alves-Pereira’s specialty. Leventhall claims no infrasound or LFN harm is possible, but the research of VAD specialists tells a different story. VAD is not common, but it can be life-shortening.
- Blade flicker. It may also affect the balance system, causing many of the same symptoms as noise does. It is mentioned in Dr. Pierpont’s book, but only in passing.
- Electrical or magnetic effects. So far there’s disturbing anecdotal stories, but nobody has come up with a mechanism to explain how the harm might be caused.