Do Wind Turbines Cause Health Problems?


Wind-turbine Syndrome Explanations and Solutions

wind turbine wind turbine
Jobs for wind turbine service technicians is expected to grow astronomically during the next 10 years. Global Wind Energy Council

Some people who live in close proximity to wind turbines say they experience sleep disturbances, headaches and concentration problems. These symptoms and others could be explained as effects of infrasound, as well as constant humming and vibrations.

But here's the catch: Many of these same symptoms can be caused by other issues, like chronic sleep loss for example, which could be the unfortunate effect of living in a noisy area. People who live near highways or on busy streets may also have trouble sleeping, and lack of sleep can lead to other health problems like irritability, anxiety, concentration and dizziness. And a 2018 study by a team of researchers from the University of Toronto and Ramboll, an engineering company funding the work, found no direct link between residents' distance from wind turbines and sleep disturbances (as measured by sleep assessments and the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index), blood pressure or stress (either self-reported or measured via hair cortisol). The team's study also didn't explicitly find evidence that exposure to wind turbines actually impacts human health.

But to solve this sound issue, new wind-power technology employs sound-dampening systems. The latest wind turbines are considerably quieter than the first models built. Noise from gears and generators has been reduced, and modern wind turbine's housing is insulated. The blades have also been designed to further mitigate noise.

The Toronto study did, however, determine that people living closer to the turbines "were more likely to report being annoyed than respondents who live further away." So most experts recommend a larger buffer zone around wind farms to protect people from these effects. Arguments vary on how far the minimum "setbacks" (or distances) should be from a wind farm and residential development. Regulations vary by state and country. Some wind farms are currently located as close as a half mile (0.8 kilometers) from residential areas.

The bottom line is wind power is cleaner and becoming cheaper than any other domestically produced energy. Texas leads the nation in installed wind power capacity.

So the hope is that new buffer-zone regulations and sound-canceling technologies can do away with the question: Do wind turbines cause health problems? Because most of the science out there says they don't.

Last editorial update on Apr 4, 2019 12:43:34 pm.

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