Are Wind Turbine Health Problems Real?

The Nocebo Effect: Are Wind Turbine Health Problems Real?

New evidence suggests negative health effects from wind turbines are caused by anti-wind campaigns themselves.
"A new Australian study presents evidence that wind turbine health effects are actually all in the head of the complainants, a finding with strong repercussions for Canada.

Led by Simon Chapman of the University of Sydney, the researchers examined records of complaints about all of Australia’s 49 wind farms, dating back to the country’s first turbine in 1993.

With a single exception, every health complaint has come after March 2009, showing a strong correlation with the anti-wind awareness campaigns focused on health which began a few years earlier. Until 2004, neither local opponents to wind farms nor anti-wind groups had reported or warned about adverse health effects.

The authors built on the work of a New Zealand research team, which recently exposed volunteers to both real and fake infrasound after presenting them with information about the health symptoms caused by infrasound. In the double-blind study, participants with the expectation of adverse effects were significantly more likely to report the suggested symptoms.

The phenomenon – that the power of suggestion can cause genuine symptoms – is well documented. In a seminal 1981 study by Schweiger and Parducci, two thirds of college students reported mild headaches when told that an electric current was passing through their head. The current was imaginary.

It’s called the nocebo effect. It’s exacerbated by media hyperbole, and there’s good reason to worry that at least some portion of health-related, anti-wind sentiment in Canada is being driven by psychosomatic expectations.

A recent Ontario study scoured  newspapers across the province for frightening terms in wind articles, including “dread,” “poorly understood by science” and, most ominously, “inescapable exposure.” These cropped up in significant quantities in small community newspapers near wind farms. The authors conclude that the terms used “in articles about wind turbines and health [...] may produce fear, concern and anxiety for readers.”

It’s hard to imagine that what has been true of human nature in Australia has not been true of human nature in Canada.

Certainly there have been plenty of health complaints from residents with windmills for neighbours.

Just in Ontario, the Ministry of the Environment has received over two hundred health complaints related to wind turbines. At least one private wind company has been hit by a $1.5 million lawsuit over alleged health impacts.

The family who launched the lawsuit have blamed nearby wind turbines for the following: “debilitating vertigo, sleep disturbance, headaches and ringing in the ears, as well as stress, depression and even suicidal thoughts.”

Are they imagining things? It would be nearly impossible to say.

 Without scans to see inside the brain,an electric current passing through one’s head look exactly the same from the outside as does a fake electric current passing through one’s head. Moreover, it’s difficult to quantify to what extent psycho-somatic pain is or isn’t real pain.

Nevertheless, it’s likely that some percentage of those hundreds of complaints have been brought on by fear-raising rhetoric. Rather than attempt to evaluate the validity of individual claims, we might begin by taking aim at the kind of sweeping hyperbole that leads to these health problems." 

sue hobart December 28, 2013 at 11:51 PM
when all else fails.. blame the victim....it's an age old technique...More spin doctoring... TIME TO BRING ON THE REAL MEDICAL DOCTORS, EKG MACHINES AND SLEEP STUDIES ... BRING THEM RIGHT TO THE AFFECTED HOMES AND PROVE WE ARE LYING. UNtil then just shut up.
NortheasternEE December 29, 2013 at 07:50 AM
Chapman makes his point on the number of wind farms in Australia free of any complaints, and the small percentage of complaints from people living within 5 kilometers from the nearest wind turbine. In Australia the setback distance is now 2 kilometers. - The massDEP/DOH Health Impact study states that the typical wind turbine generates a safe 40 decibels at 400 meters. At five kilometers the noise level drops to about 22 decibels which is below the discernible level. At 2 kilometers the noise level drops to about 28 decibels, 12 decibels lower than what the DEP/DOH says is safe. - What Chapman fails to tell us is how many of the complaint-free wind farms have no one living within 2 kilometers, and what his numbers would look like if he only counted the folks living inside the 2 kilometer separation distance. Given that area increases geometrically with the radius of a circle, Chapman is smart enough to know that he is padding his statistics with people beyond the safety area by factors of 10 times or more, to make it appear that only a small percentage is complaining. - In Falmouth the complaints are coming from about 50 families living mostly within 2,000 feet from Wind-1, that’s only 610 meters. If Chapman really wanted to address the reason people are filing widespread complaints, he would have limited his study to those living within 600 meters from a wind turbine, and not the purposely selected 5,000 meters which is made up mostly of people who cannot even see the wind turbines. - 2,000 meters is a mile and a quarter. 5 kilometers is a little over 3 miles which is about the distance most of the Friends of Falmouth Wind must live!
Bill Carson December 29, 2013 at 10:23 AM
The basic issue here is the Friends of Falmouth Wind are a group of relatives from Woods Hole and that little pony ranch in East Falmouth. The group took over the Falmouth Energy Committee and negotiated the 12 million dollars of debt over two commercial megawatt turbines. The group is in denial and is embarrassed over the failure of the project. In addition two members of the Falmouth Select Board are town representatives to the Massachusetts Democratic Party Platform. That platform calls for an all out war on fossil fuels. The state of Massachusetts through the Democratic election committee has a renewable energy goal of 2000 megawatts of renewable energy by the year 2020. These two individuals on the Falmouth Select Board are representing the ideals of renewable energy at the state level. THEY DO NOT REPRESENT THE CITIZENS OF FALMOUTH. They will do anything to keep the Falmouth wind turbines spinning 24/7 as evidence shows the recent promise on Nov 7 2013 to the Massachusetts Superior Court to shut the wind turbines down and then under orders from the Democratic Platform Members at the state level pulled the rug out from under the Superior Court Judge -If you don't believe me go to any Falmouth Select Board meeting and ask how on Nov 7 did the Falmouth Select Board send one member (you know who it was ) as a representative of the Select Board and with the town attorney agreed to shut down the turbines 12 hours and then didn't do it ! These people do not represent the Town of Falmouth ! They represent a failed commercial wind renewable energy policy that is backed by the State of Massachusetts and the Massachusetts Conservation Law Foundation .Someone needs to write a book and a movie on what's going on in Falmouth
mark cool December 29, 2013 at 09:39 PM
Are wind turbine health problems real? Evidence suggests it's quite likely. Wind turbine annoyance, stress and sleep disturbance have been documented in peer reviewed studies... (Pedersen et al., 2008,Project WINDFARM perception Visual and acoustic impact of wind turbine farms on residents)... and confirmed by The Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care... (Copes, R. and K. Rideout. Wind Turbines and Health: A Review of Evidence. Ontario Agency for Health Protection and Promotion 2009 & Arlene King, M.D., Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care Memorandum, October 21, 2009).   Wind turbine physiological adverse effects documented by clinicians and researchers are consistent with symptoms commonly associated with annoyance... (W. David Colby, M.D. et al., Wind Turbine Sound and Health Effects, An Expert Panel Review 2009, Prepared for American Wind Energy Association and Canadian Wind Energy Association), ... stress (Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hl-vs/iyh-vsv/life-vie/stress-eng.php & Work Organization & Stress, Stavroula Leka BA MSc PhD et al.,World Health Organization, http://www.who.int/occupational_health/publications/stress/en/index.html)... and sleep disturbance (World Health Organization, Night Noise Guidelines for Europe, 2009, http://www.euro.who.int/InformationSources/Publications/Catalogue/20090904_12).
mark cool December 29, 2013 at 10:25 PM
THE VERY LAST STATEMENT SAYS IT ALL - “we might begin by taking aim at the kind of sweeping hyperbole that leads to these health problems.” Take aim at the 'Ponzie-Schemering' developers and politicians that continue “shoe-horning” industrial wind turbines into areas otherwise protected from industrialization and associated hazards. To date, there are no comprehensive noise guidelines that ensure wind turbines are sited in appropriate locations based on clear, predictable and protective standards. Specific siting standards relative acceptable noise characteristics from wind turbines are “unknown.” In Falmouth, It’s been the sweeping bold-faced lies and assurances, hidden behind promised "home-run" financial incentives, that actually led to these health problems.


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