Planet Gore

Wind Turbine Syndrome

The Oregonian reports on “wind turbine syndrome” (WTS), a condition that, according to Dr. Nina Pierpont, results from living in close proximity to wind farms. Now, maybe this condition has no scientific basis and represents only a new market for the tort industry. But either way, it’s not good news for wind power.

Sherry Eaton pulled into the driveway of her rural, high-desert home to see one of several giant wind turbines being assembled a half-mile away.

“I started to cry,” Eaton, 57, recalled of her first sight of the Willow Creek Wind Project in late July. “They’re going to be hanging over the back of our house, and now there’s the medical thing.”
“The medical thing” is new research suggesting that living close to wind turbines, as Eaton and her 60-year-old husband, Mike, soon will be doing, can cause sleep disorders, difficulty with equilibrium, headaches, childhood “night terrors” and other health problems.
Pierpont’s findings suggest that low-frequency noise and vibration generated by wind machines can have an effect on the inner ear, triggering headaches; difficulty sleeping; tinnitus, or ringing in the ears; learning and mood disorders; panic attacks; irritability; disruption of equilibrium, concentration and memory; and childhood behavior problems. . . . Her research says wind turbines should never be built closer than two miles from homes. . . . Concerns also are coming out of Europe about low-frequency noise from newly built wind turbines. For example, British physician Amanda Harry, in a February 2007 article titled Wind Turbines, Noise and Health, wrote of 39 people, including residents of New Zealand and Australia, who suffered from the sounds emitted by wind turbines. According to Pierpont, eight of the 10 families in her study moved out of their homes. . . .Pierpont’s research suggests “everyone with pre-existing migraines” developed headaches by living near the wind.

Mike Logsdon, director of development for Invenergy, the company developing the wind farm highlighted in The Oregonian article, does not find Pierpont’s findings credible: “We’ve had a number of other wind farms over the country and residents living by them and never had any problems.”
More research is sure to come from both sides of this issue. In the meantime, I am interested to know whether any readers, perhaps ones who live near wind turbines, can shed any light on this. I have a wind-energy study due out in the weeks ahead– covering the industry generally, but with a special focus on Texas — so if you have any insight that I could add to the short mention of WTS in my report, pass it on.
For more on Dr. Pierpont’s findings on WTS, see her “Wind Turbine Syndrome” testimony before the New York Legislature Energy Committee from March 7, 2006.

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