Is Wind Turbine Syndrome A Real Thing?
    By Hank Campbell | March 4th 2014 09:19 AM | 6 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
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    Here's an intellectual puzzle; which is more real, the viability of wind power as anything more than a sustainable gimmick or Wind Turbine Syndrome?

    There is no wrong answer, they both have a lot of subjective inputs so basically it boils down to your preference. If you think cost is unimportant in return for being slightly greener, wind power may be viable to you. And if you are annoyed that rich progressive elites embraced it and then stuck the turbines in your backyard over your protests, you may have that irritation persist to such an extent that you have psychological or psychosomatic issues, like Wind Turbine Syndrome. Psychology is primarily-symptom based so if you have a symptom, no one can really tell you that you don't have a disease.

    Is Wind Turbine Syndrome real? Not sure, people who have it say it is and it seems like it would bug me if I could hear them. In old fluorescent light bulbs, for example, it wasn't just the sickly blue light that bothered people it was the humming. Now the frequency is higher so people can't hear it and thus it may only be making your pets insane.

    And it bugs me when I see wind turbines and I don't even live anywhere near them. California loves to show 'leadership' when it comes to environmental fads so when I drive to Silicon Valley and see wind turbines outside Livermore I am reminded that activists insisted they would 'pay for themselves' by 20 years ago and are currently still $15 billion in the red.

    There is a reason people in the 13th century wondered, 'can't we create something that works a little better than this wind thing?' It isn't as viable as people painting a wildly optimistic scenario claim now either.

    Yet viability is not going to be why a government pet project succeeds or fails, only the complaints of constituents will make a difference. 

    Dr. Colette Bonner, Deputy Chief Medical Officer of the Department of Health in Ireland, has been quoted in a variety of policy proposals related to noise and set back distance, advising Minister Jan O'Sullivan regarding revisions to 2006 standards that “there is a consistent cluster of symptoms related to wind turbine syndrome which occurs in a number of people in the vicinity of industrial wind turbines.”

    Well, that's epidemiology right there. You can find almost anything if you try. We have had similar claims in the US, about self-reported mental health issues after wind turbines went up, especially among people who were against the turbines in the first place. But this was not a 'study' written by an anti-wind-turbine activist, it is a doctor who believes it after listening to the advice of other experts and doing a literature review. If you suddenly claim to have irritability, sleeplessness, headaches and can't concentrate, you may have Wind Turbine Syndrome. But I bet the afflicted people also had NIMBYism (Not In My Back Yard-ism) prior to that. Green energy, like all energy, is a great idea - when it's somewhere else.

    That aside, it's now fun to watch the Irish Department of Health deflect the claims of its own expert with the argument that the Department of Health’s deputy chief medical officer's statement “did not constitute expert advice.”

    So then what would constitute expert medical advice on a medical issue by a doctor who happens to be one of the top medical authorities in the country?  Apparently only statements that say positive things about an alternative energy scheme the Irish government happens to like.

    They may not be great for people but they sure are terrible for bats and birds. But they can't hire paid lobbyists, so I bet wind turbines are here to stay.

    Credit: Rose Lincoln, Harvard News Office. Link.


    Your attempt to undercut claims of ill health as being made "especially among people who were against the turbines in the first place" is not based on the facts. Most people that I have read about were supportive and, if they had any concerns, accepted the corporate assurances that there would be no problem. Yet, when the turbines started turning, they got sick. Rather than a "nocebo" effect, that would suggest the failure of an attempted "placebo".

    Minimum distances of around 2km from dwellings have been recommended for a decade now, not just by medical reviewers but also by the industry itself to avoid noise (and consequent health) issues. It should be remembered that wind turbines are often more active at night, and simple loss of sleep can lead to health problems.

    You seem to be arguing about obvious points - none of which I made. Of course sleep issues lead to health issues, and of course there should be minimum distances - but those are already in place. The people claiming health problems want 5X the distance you list.

    Wind power has benefited from overt junk science claims - that they should be hurt by similar junk science is fitting, but still just as wrong.
    A 2-km setback is very rare. One-fourth of that and less, if any, is much more common. Hence the problems.

    2km is not even close to the currently implemented set backs. A wind farm was built 4 years ago in my area (northern Illinois) and the closest turbine to our house is ~3000'. That same turbine is approx 1200' from our neighbor across the road. If the 2km setback had been enforced, then the wind farm would have been completely un-buildable in this heavily populated area.

    The article is about Ireland, where 2km is the rule. I absolutely agree with you that they should not have been built in your neighborhood. Wind power has benefited from the same politically-driven, denial-of-evidence lobbying that got America saddled with ethanol. It can be a quaint outlier in places like California (where they are as close as yours, yet no one had gotten ill from them for 25 years, until newspaper stories about people getting ill started getting printed) rather than as a legitimate alternative to fossil fuels.
    Currently, Ireland does not have a legally required setback. The 2006 planning guidelines suggest that 500 metres is enough to limit noise outside homes to 45 dB(A) or 5 db(A) above ambient. Public consultation on new guidelines just ended last week. The new guidelines would require 500 metres (0.5 km) distance and establish a 40 dB(A) outside noise limit.