Current Issue
This Month's Print Issue

Follow Fast Company

We’ll come to you.

Study Attempts to Deflate Overblown Wind Turbine Syndrome Claims


So-called Wind Turbine Syndrome—a series of health problems caused by the low-frequency sound of wind turbines—is probably just psychological, according to a study from the American Wind Energy Association. And that means past NIMBY complaints about insomnia, tinnitus, and even hand tremors caused by turbines are, well, figments of people's imaginations.

We know what you're thinking. AWEA is the trade association for the wind power industry, which means that it has a vested interest in placing turbines in people's backyards. But AWEA's report was written by a seven-member panel of audiologists, medical doctors, and acoustical professionals. It claims that the amount and frequency of noise from turbines is no worse than what is normally present in urban areas. The report does concede that the annoyance factor of turbine noise in normally-quiet rural areas is real: "Associated stress from annoyance, exacerbated by the rhetoric, fears, and negative publicity generated by the wind turbine controversy may contribute to the reported symptoms described by some people living near rural wind turbines." But all that nausea, vertigo, tinnitus, and blurred vision? Don't blame it on the turbines.

Despite the perceived taint in the study, researchers involved with the report say that they had autonomy in their findings, but we would still like to see an independent report that verifies AWEA's results. Because while it may be easy to turn a blind eye to Wind Turbine Syndrome complaints and continue building turbines with abandon, we may one day regret it if a giant turbine is placed on our street.

[Via LA Times]