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Wind Energy, Noise Pollution
Living near wind turbines can be hazardous to your health.

A wind farm in Indiana

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Robert Bryce

In October, a peer-reviewed study of wind-turbine-related noise in New Zealand found that residents living within two kilometers of large wind projects reported

lower overall quality of life, physical quality of life, and environmental quality of life. Those exposed to turbine noise also reported significantly lower sleep quality, and rated their environment as less restful. Our data suggest that wind farm noise can negatively impact facets of health-related quality of life.

Alec Salt, a research scientist at the Cochlear Fluids Research Laboratory at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, has written extensively about the health effects of wind-energy projects. He flatly concludes that wind turbines “can be hazardous to human health.”

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Dr. Robert McMurtry, a Canadian orthopedic surgeon, is also pushing for more study; he is among the leaders of a large anti-wind contingent in Ontario. Try as they might, McMurtry’s opponents cannot dismiss him or his credentials. He is a fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of Canada and was recently named a member of the Order of Canada, the country’s highest civilian honor.

Ontario has become ground zero in the fight against the wind-energy sector. In September, a Canadian family filed a $1.5 million lawsuit against the owners of a wind project in southwestern Ontario. That same month, CBC News reported that Ontario’s Ministry of the Environment has logged “hundreds of health complaints” about the wind projects there. According to the Society for Wind Vigilance, a group of doctors, acousticians, academics, and health professionals that is focused on the adverse health effects of wind turbines, about 40 families in Ontario have moved out of their homes because of turbine noise. Last month, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, the province’s biggest farm organization, said that the push for wind energy had “become untenable” and that “rural residents’ health and nuisance complaints must be immediately and fairly addressed.”

Finding people in Canada and elsewhere who are being victimized by turbine noise is easy. Over the past two years, I’ve personally interviewed, by phone or e-mail, homeowners in Wisconsin, Missouri, New York, Nova Scotia, Ontario, and England who’ve had wind turbines built near their homes. Their health complaints are nearly identical to those made by the Enzes. For instance, Darrel Capelle, a 34-year-old farm hand, lives in De Pere, Wis., with his wife and their two young boys. In October 2010, two large wind turbines were built within a quarter mile of their home. “Sleeplessness with the kids started right after the turbines went in,” says Capelle. His wife, Sarah, now suffers from frequent, intense headaches.

Although the federal government has yet to undertake any broad studies of infrasound and wind turbines, other countries are responding to the surging resistance against land-based wind projects. Among those countries: Denmark, which has become the Green Left’s favorite example of the merits of wind energy. Alas, the Danes themselves aren’t so enthusiastic.

In 2010, the Copenhagen Post reported that “state-owned energy firm Dong Energy has given up building more wind turbines on Danish land, following protests from residents complaining about the noise the turbines make.” The newspaper quoted Dong CEO Anders Eldrup as saying, “It is very difficult to get the public’s acceptance if the turbines are built close to residential buildings, and therefore we are now looking at maritime options.”

The controversy over wind-turbine noise has been raging in Australia for more than two years. Much of the fight has focused on the noise generated by the Waubra wind project in the state of Victoria. Residents near the project began complaining of health problems shortly after the 192-megawatt facility began operating in 2009, and several residents near the project abandoned their homes. Australia’s mainstream media have paid serious attention to the turbine-noise issue, including a 2010 TV report by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that focused on the problems at Waubra.



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