Credit: Mark Ellis/flickr

After digging around on several articles and editorials, I still haven’t found an exact, concise definition of what Wind Turbine Syndrome is. It is not recognized by any international disease classification system and does not appear in any title or abstract in the massive US National Library of Medicine’s PubMed database. From what I could find, it has no scientific basis, and the idea that it exists is mostly spread by people who claim to be suffering from it. Alleged symptoms include physiological problems such as insomnia, headaches, tinnitus, vertigo and nausea. But judges aren’t buying it; the Energy and Policy Institute, a clean energy advocacy group, reviewed rulings from 49 lawsuits and similar complaints filed in five Western countries. They found that no judge accepted the validity of Wind Turbine Syndrome – except for a single case, in Massachusetts. That single case is a definitive decision, and is currently being appealed.

“These claims about wind turbines causing health impacts are not being upheld, which means there isn’t sufficient evidence to prove that wind turbines cause any problems with human health,” said Gabe Elsner, the nonprofit’s executive director. “That’s a big deal, because claims about that are used across the globe by anti-wind advocates to try to slow the development of wind farms.”

In the case I mentioned above, a government board sided last year with neighbors, including a Vietnam War veteran recovering from PTSD, who said they were sickened by a pair of town-owned wind turbines. Until the appeal is settled, the blades are shut down every night from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. and during Sundays and public holidays.

Credit: Energy and Policy Institute.

“Of course wind turbines make noise, and we all know that noise can be annoying,” said Melissa Whitfield Aslund, a scientist at the Canadian consulting firm Intrinsik, whose clients include wind energy developers. “Once sited properly, where you have appropriate noise regulations in place, and where people aren’t being exposed to excessive amounts of noise, there’s no direct evidence of adverse effects on human health.”

The thing is, as I said, it’s not really recognized as a disease or a health threat in any way; and even noise is highly questionable – a study we wrote about in 2013 found that wind turbines are, for locals, “quieter than a heart beat“.

“There’s really nothing else about wind turbines that’s unique to wind turbines that would be expected to cause any adverse health impacts,” Whitfield Aslund said.

 

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