Can wind power make you ill?

Wind power projects regularly run into opposition, from North Texas neighbors calling the spinning giants a nuisance to coastal landowners saying they’rebird killing machines. But in rural Illinois the arrival of wind power turbines has some claiming a wind farm is making them sick, says the Chicago Tribune:

“The turbines, which are assessed at a million dollars each, represent the largest investment made in the county, said Ruth Anne Tobias, chair of the DeKalb County Board. And the expected annual tax revenue is unprecedented: $1.45 million.
Steve Stengel, a spokesman for turbine-owner NextEra Energy Resources, a unit of FPL Group, whose holdings include Florida Power & Light Co., said $50 million in payments is expected to be made to landowners over the 30-year life of the project.
But such windfalls haven’t assuaged people who claim the turbines have harmed their health. They say noise from turbines is disrupting sleep, and they blame the strobe-like flashes produced by the whirling blades in sunlight — “shadow flicker” — for everything from vertigo to migraine headaches.
A group of 36 people who live near the turbines has sued DeKalb County and 75 landowners who leased land for the turbines. They claim the county illegally granted zoning variances and want the turbines taken down. NextEra is seeking to dismiss the suit based on “vague allegations of hypothetical harms.”
Ken Andersen, a county board member who voted to allow the turbines to be built, says he is trying to understand the people voicing concerns. One man, he said, called at 6 a.m. and told him a turbine that sounded like a 747 jet engine was keeping him awake. Andersen said he got out of bed and drove over to listen for himself.
“I went to this man’s yard,” Andersen said. “I made more noise walking across the crunchy snow.” The turbines, he said, “were making their whoosh, whoosh, whoosh noise.”

Canadian and U.S. wind industry officials did a study released last year that concluded there was no adverse health impact from wind turbine noise. But it doesn’t appear the story’s going to end there.
Austin journalist and author Robert Bryce recently wrote for the Wall Street Journal about wind farms making neighbors sick across the country.
And a New York pediatrician who has done her own research on the issue says there hasn’t been enough studies on the potential health issues, including the effect of the shadows.
Having never spent the night near a turbine, I can’t attest to the noise issue, but the video above seems to make a good case for a closer look at the “shadow flicker” issue.

No Comments yet

  1. Jon in La Marque

    I sleep more deeply with the noise of the Tv… My body is so relaxed that I have to drag myself from bed…When I drive at night I see some 18 wheelers on the side of the road, I imagine the drivers are sleeping inside…and I know that there is no better sleep, because when I would go offshore in the 70′s the noise from the engine on the crew boat as loud as it is would hipmotize us so much that we would only awake at the sound of the driver cutting the engine,

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  2. ST

    I agree that it should be looked at, but it will likely be shot-down. The shadow flicker probably happens for just a few minutes each day when the sun is at just the right angle. Hard to believe that a few minutes a day can make you sick. I’m sure they would complain if someone was drilling a well on the same land. They want their energy, just not the reality of how its produced.

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  3. 42

    If it’s proven that there are actual deleterious health impacts by wind turbines, let’s not forget the deleterious health effects of coal and oil production and consumption!

    #3
  4. lil_ol_me

    If you watch the subsidies and look for something more than 25% of rated output, it’ll certainly make you nauseous….

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  5. lil_ol_me

    (shouldn’t send so quick…)
    The shadow flicker is an issue I don’t see much relief from too quickly (clear blades? birds will REALLY love those..), but the sounds should be addressed by blade-edge geometries and slower speeds. Whether it WILL be addressed is unknown, but it could be at least reduced.

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  6. FaktzR2N10s4U

    ( Can wind power make you ill?)
    hummmmmmmmmm…
    i find that strangely unheard of beings i lived in germany for 4 years..
    no one ever said such silly things…

    #6
  7. Brandon

    Interesting how the video is shot just before sunset. Maybe the electric company that owns them should buy the people complaining some blinds!

    #7
  8. wcbrigance

    I live around these things for three years while living in Germany and had no issues at all. Watched them camped under them and drove around then at high speeds on the autobahn without issue. Sounds like a bunch of bellyachers to me.

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  9. Unless your house is directly under a windmill I would think that the shadow would appear only at a certain time and possibly during a certain season. The “coalition” of 36 citizens wouldn’t happen to be teabaggers would they?

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  10. Mr. Mike

    I doubt if these things are putting out 25% of rated capacity so that is enough to make me sick not to mention where they’re built. Now Obama is allowing the next round of these to come from China. That really will make you sick. How many jobs will be lost because of this?

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  11. gary

    i always heard that those from north texas were crybabys. first its about the “boys” and now its about wind turbines. the jets that fly over my house during the day make more noise. LOOKS LIKE THOSE PEOPLE NEED TO CLOSE THE SHADES OR CURTAINS. i have plenty of land and i don’t mind if you install one of these at all. bring it on, as long as i can get some of the electricity that it produces.

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  12. zenbuddha

    call whine 11.

    #12
  13. John Moseley

    Mr. Mike – Do some research. Because you don;t hane a clue as to what you are talking about.

    #13
  14. I’m thinking they are getting sick from thinking of all the royalty money their neighbors are getting whilst they get ZIP..ZERO..NADA.

    #14
  15. Businessman

    I have turbines on my property and don’t have a problem with the sound (which they DO “woosh”, as the blades move through the air) nor do I have a problem with shadow flicker, since I believe that the big blades don’t rotate fast enought to “flicker” as they are claimed to do… Even in that video theat wasn’t bad. Now the smaller blades might do it more…

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  16. David

    I have ceiling fans in my house that stay on 24/7 in the summer that make these same kind of shadows and light reflections. Never bothers me at all.

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  17. Peggy Lowrey

    No we are NOT teabaggers.
    Unless you have actually experienced them 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, it would be prudent to remain less opinionated about this subject. It only shows lack of actual research and experience in this field. We of the Citizens for Open Government ARE experiencing this and we ARE affected by them. If you have doubts, come up hear. But, driving by one, standing by your car for a few minutes does NOT show you the effects that happen when you have them 24 hours a day. That is like comparing apples and oranges. And, the noise goes through the walls, into the house. The reason you have a different situation inside is because there’s no other noise in your ear…you’re sleeping, and the house is supposed to be quiet, yet, you’re waking up from this noise. When you stand outside and listen, you’re also listening to the wind. There is NONE of that going on inside your house. Also, standing straight under them you won’t hear much either. The noise radiates out like a giant cone shape AWAY from the blades. And, especially at night, it travels.

    #17