Wind Turbine Syndrome: Excerpts from the Executive Summary

Author:  Pierpont, Nina

The core of the book is a scientific report presenting original, primary research on symptomatic people living near large industrial wind turbines (1.5-3 MW) erected since 2004. The findings:

1) Wind turbines cause Wind Turbine Syndrome. We know this because people have symptoms when they are close to turbines and the symptoms go away when they are away from turbines. The study families themselves figured out that they had to move away from turbines to be rid of their symptoms, and nine out of ten have moved. Some sold and some abandoned their homes.

2) The symptoms are sleep disturbance and deprivation, headache, tinnitus (ringing in ears), ear pressure, dizziness, vertigo (spinning dizziness), nausea, visual blurring, tachycardia (fast heart rate), irritability, problems with concentration and memory, and panic episodes associated with sensations of movement or quivering inside the body that arise while awake or asleep.

3) People with pre-existing migraine disorder, motion sensitivity, or damage to inner ear structures (such as hearing loss from industrial noise exposure) are more susceptible than other people.

4) Symptoms are not statistically associated with pre-existing anxiety or other mental health disorders.

5) The symptom complex resembles syndromes caused by vestibular (inner ear balance organ) dysfunction. The proposed mechanism is disturbance to balance and position sense by noise and/or vibration, especially low frequency components of the noise and vibration.

6) An extensive review of recent medical literature reveals how balance-related neural signals affect a variety of brain areas and functions, including spatial awareness, spatial memory, spatial problem-solving, fear, anxiety, autonomic functions (such as nausea and heart rate), and aversive learning. These known neural relationships provide a robust anatomic and physiologic framework for Wind Turbine Syndrome.

7) Medical and technical literature on the resonance of sound or vibration within body cavities (chest, skull, eyes, throat, ears) is reviewed, because study subjects experience these effects.

8 ) Published studies of documented low-frequency noise exposure (both experimental and environmental) are reviewed. These demonstrate effects on people similar or identical to Wind Turbine Syndrome. A study from Germany in 1996 may indeed be Wind Turbine Syndrome.

9) Recent mail-in survey studies of people who live near wind turbines in Sweden and the Netherlands show that people are severely annoyed at noise from wind turbines at much lower A-weighted noise levels than for traffic, train, or aircraft noise.

10) Published literature documenting the effects of environmental noise on cardiovascular health and children’s learning are reviewed. For health reasons, the World Health Organization recommends lower thresholds for nighttime noise than are currently observed in most countries — especially when the noise has low-frequency components.

11) Wind Turbine Syndrome gives a name and medical description to a set of symptoms severe enough to drive people from their homes, and establishes medical risk factors for such symptoms. This study and other studies reviewed in the report indicate that safe setbacks will be at least 2 km (1.24 miles) and even farther for larger turbines and in more varied topography. Further research is needed to clarify physical causes and physiologic mechanisms, explore other health effects of living near wind turbines, determine how many people are affected, and investigate effects in special populations, including children.