Sunday, March 12, 2006

"Wind Turbine Syndrome"

Here is a picture of the d'Entremont home in Pubnico, Nova Scotia, where their ancestors have lived since the 1870s. Daniel and Carolyn d'Entremont, with their 6 children, had to abandon it on Feb. 21, 2006, because of "wind turbine syndrome," the cluster of symptoms being found around the world where people live near giant wind turbines.

d'Entremont home, Nova Scotia

Dr. Nina Pierpont of Malone, N.Y., has interviewed them as part of her research into this problem. She testified before the New York State Legislature Energy Committee on March 7. A 68-KB PDF of her testimony is available at AWEO.org. Here is an excerpt.
Three doctors that I know of are studying the Wind Turbine Syndrome: myself, one in England, and one in Australia. We note the same sets of symptoms. The symptoms start when local turbines go into operation and resolve when the turbines are off or when the person is out of the area. The symptoms include:
  1. Sleep problems: noise or physical sensations of pulsation or pressure make it hard to go to sleep and cause frequent awakening.

  2. Headaches which are increased in frequency or severity.

  3. Dizziness, unsteadiness, and nausea.

  4. Exhaustion, anxiety, anger, irritability, and depression.

  5. Problems with concentration and learning.

  6. Tinnitus (ringing in the ears).
Not everyone near turbines has these symptoms. This does not mean people are making them up; it means there are differences among people in susceptibility. These differences are known as risk factors. Defining risk factors and the proportion of people who get symptoms is the role of epidemiologic studies. These studies are under way. Chronic sleep disturbance is the most common symptom. Exhaustion, mood problems, and problems with concentration and learning are natural outcomes of poor sleep.

Sensitivity to low frequency vibration is a risk factor. Contrary to assertions of the wind industry, some people feel disturbing amounts of vibration or pulsation from wind turbines, and can count in their bodies, especially their chests, the beats of the blades passing the towers, even when they can’t hear or see them. Sensitivity to low frequency vibration in the body or ears is highly variable in people, and hence poorly understood and the subject of much debate.

Another risk factor is a preexisting migraine disorder. Migraine is not just a bad headache; it’s a complex neurologic phenomenon which affects the visual, hearing, and balance systems, and can even affect motor control and consciousness itself. Many people with migraine disorder have increased sensitivity to noise and to motion -- they get carsick as youngsters, and seasick, and very sick on carnival rides. Migraine-associated vertigo (which is the spinning type of dizziness, often with nausea) is a described medical entity. Migraine occurs in 12% of Americans. It is a common, familial, inherited condition.

... Data from a number of studies and individual cases document that in rolling terrain, disturbing symptoms of the Wind Turbine Syndrome occur up to 1.2 miles from the closest turbine. In long Appalachian valleys, with turbines on ridge-tops, disturbing symptoms occur up to 1.5 miles away. In New Zealand, which is more mountainous, disturbing symptoms occur up to 1.9 miles away.

In New York State, with its mixed terrain, I recommend a setback of 1.5 miles (8000 ft.) between all industrial wind turbines and people’s homes or schools, hospitals, or similar institutions. This setback should be imposed immediately for turbines not yet built.
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