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Wind Turbine Sounds Spur Health Complaints, Force Residents to Move

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The spread of wind turbines into quiet rural areas is leading to increasing complaints that they make more noise than residents were led to believe. While simple annoyance and sleep disturbance are the most common effects, in some cases, nearby residents are reporting health problems that they associate with the presence of the turbines, leading some to move from their homes. Not long after wind turbines began to spin in March near Gerry Meyer’s home in Wisconsin, his son Robert, 13, and wife, Cheryl, complained of headaches. Cheryl also sometimes feels a fluttering in her chest, while Gerry is sometimes nauseated and hears crackling. The nearest turbine is 1,560 feet from Meyer’s house. His dismay over an energy source he once thought was benign has made the retired mailman, 59, an activist. He travels the state warning communities considering wind farms to be wary. “I don’t think anyone should have to put up with this,” says Meyer, who compares the sound to a helicopter or a jet taking off. In Canada, Helen and Bill Fraser initially supported the nearby wind farm in Melancthon, Ont. One turbine sat close to the Fraser’s kitchen window. “We thought, more green energy, this is great,” Helen told CTV News. However, Helen says she developed headaches, body aches and she had trouble sleeping. The dog began wetting the floor at night. “There were nights I was lying in bed and my heart would beat to the pulse of the turbine. It was an uneasy feeling,” Helen said. Ernie Marshall at first supported the wind farm that was placed near his home near Goderich, Ont. However, he also says that once the turbines got rolling, his health began to suffer. “I had problems with my heart, with my eyes, my digestive system,” Marshall told CTV News. “It traumatizes your whole body.” Some affected residents can only sell their homes and move away. The Frasers left their home of 32 years and moved to nearby Shelburne, Ont. They say their symptoms have, for the most part, vanished. Ernie Marshall moved to the town of Seaforth, Ont., which is several kilometers away from the turbines near his former home. “I had to get out or I wouldn’t be standing here talking to you,” Marshall said.

wisconsin wind farm
Wisconsin wind farm

Dr. Nina Pierpont, a pediatrician in upstate New York, has interviewed dozens of people who live near windmills in Canada, the United States and Europe. Her soon-to-be released book, Wind Turbine Syndrome, documents the litany of health problems experienced by some people who have wind farms near their homes. Some early findings suggest that wind turbines create a high intensity, low frequency sound that may have an effect on the body. Not only can the sound potentially cause debilitating illness. Some researchers believe that the vibrations the sound causes in the inner ear may lead to vibro-acoustic disease, which can cause dizziness, nausea and sleep disturbances. However, officials with the Canadian Wind Energy Association point to a handful of studies they say prove that windmills lead to few, if any, adverse health effects. “We know there have been complaints about health impacts of wind turbines,” Sean Whittaker of the Canadian Wind Energy Association told CTV News. “On the other hand, we know there are some 10,000 turbines installed across North America and complaints have been relatively few.” The issue has not just put experts at odds. Communities across North America are divided between residents who say local windmills have made them sick and their neighbors who don’t believe them. “Everyone was calling me a liar,” Ernie Marshall said. “It don’t matter who you talk to. You bring ’em out here and they’ll say that noise don’t bother us. Sit there for a week under that and listen to it and see what it does to your body.” The inconsistencies in the early research, coupled with the fact that some residents who live near wind turbines complain of such a wide array of symptoms, are evidence that further study is needed to determine if Wind Turbine Syndrome is a problem, how big of one and what should be done, experts say. “Depending on your distance you’ll have 30, 40, 50 per cent of people who are troubled, but not 100 per cent,” Dr. Robert McMurtry of the University of Western Ontario told CTV News. “That’s why it’s important to do these studies to see just how many are troubled and how real it is.” Sources: Sympatico/MSN Canada, 10/6/08 [READ ARTICLE] USA Today, 11/4/08 [READ ARTICLE] Daily Tech, 8/13/08 [READ ARTICLE] See also Wind Turbine Syndrome website [WEBSITE] 


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