FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Wind Turbine Syndrome

by Dr. NINA PIERPONT, MD

Wind turbines majestically threshing the wind — what marvels of human engineering! To stand beneath one is breathtaking. To live near one can be hell on earth. So I have been told by countless people who suddenly find themselves grievously ill from the subtle yet devastating infrasonic jackhammer generated by these “clean, green, renewable energy” giants.

The explanation may be tucked away in the inner ear in a cluster of tiny, interconnected organs with a remarkable evolutionary pedigree. The vestibular organs — the semicircular canals, saccule, and utricle — function as Mother Nature’s gyroscope, controlling our sense of motion, position, and balance, including our spatial thinking. (Remember when you got carsick as a kid? Or seasick?)

Humans share these enigmatic organs with a host of other backboned species, including fish and amphibians. Some scientists indeed see them as a kind of pan-species master key for an extraordinarily broad range of brain function — amounting to a sixth sense.

One of those functions, it now appears, is to register and respond to the sounds and vibrations (infrasound) we don’t consciously hear, but feel — as from wind turbines. For many people, the response is swift and disastrous.

Sometimes it’s advantageous being a country doctor. Six years ago I began hearing health complaints from people living in the shadow of these gigantic turbines. At first it was merely local and regional, then global. Tellingly, virtually everyone described the same constellation of symptoms. Symptoms that were being triggered, I began to suspect, by vestibular dysregulation.

(1) Sleep disturbance. Not simply awakened, but awakening in a panic (“flight or fight” response).
(2) Headache.
(3) Tinnitus.
(4) Ear pressure.
(5) Dizziness.
(6) Vertigo.
(7) Nausea.
(8) Visual blurring.
(9) Tachycardia.
(10) Irritability.
(11) Problems with concentration and memory.
(12) Panic episodes associated with sensations of internal pulsation or quivering, which arise while awake or asleep. (This latter involving other, non-vestibular organs of balance, motion, and position sense.)

None of these people had experienced these symptoms to any appreciable degree before the turbines became operational. All said their symptoms disappeared rapidly whenever they spent several days away from home. All said the symptoms reappeared when they returned home.

Many had supported the wind farm project before all this happened. Now, some became so ill, they literally abandoned their homes — locked the door and left.

Taking my cue from a British country doctor who was reporting identical “wind turbine” symptoms among her patients, I did what clinicians call a case series. I interviewed 10 families (38 people) both here and abroad, who had either left their homes or were about to leave. I found a statistically significant correlation between the telltale symptoms and pre-existing motion sensitivity, inner ear damage, and migraine disorder. Each is a risk factor for what I now christened Wind Turbine Syndrome. My data suggest, further, that young children and adults beyond age 50 are also at substantial risk.

The response from ear, nose, throat clinicians (otolaryngologists and neuro-otologists) was immediate and encouraging. One was Dr. F. Owen Black, a highly regarded neuro-otologist who consults for the US Navy and NASA on vestibular dysregulation.

Another was Dr. Alec Salt at the Washington University School of Medicine, who recently published an NIH-funded, peer-reviewed study demonstrating that the cochlea (which links to the vestibular organs) responds to infrasound without registering it as sound. Infrasound, in fact, increases pressure inside both the cochlea and vestibular organs, distorting both balance and hearing.

Salt thus effectively shatters the dogma that “what you can’t hear, can’t hurt you.” It can indeed hurt you. The growing uproar among wind turbine neighbors testifies to this inconvenient truth.

My role is over. My waiting room is full. It’s time for governments to study this wind-generated scourge whose cure is simple. A 2 km setback (larger in hilly or mountainous terrain) fixes it. Wind developers, not unexpectedly, refuse to acknowledge the problem. They ridicule it as hysteria and NIMBYism (“Not In My Back Yard!”) — and refuse to build their machines 2 km (1.24 miles) away from homes.

“It’s difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it,” suggested Upton Sinclair. Perhaps so. In that case, expect more empty houses and (easily avoidable) suffering.

Nina Pierpont, MD, PhD, is a pediatrician and author of “Wind Turbine Syndrome: A Report on a Natural Experiment” (2009). She is the keynote speaker at this weekend’s international symposium in Picton, Ontario, “The Global Wind Industry and Adverse Health Effects: Loss of Social Justice?”

 

More articles by:
June 27, 2016
Robin Hahnel
Brexit: Establishment Freak Out
James Bradley
Omar’s Motive
Gregory Wilpert – Michael Hudson
How Western Military Interventions Shaped the Brexit Vote
Leonard Peltier
41 Years Since Jumping Bull (But 500 Years of Trauma)
Rev. William Alberts
Orlando: the Latest Victim of Radicalizing American Imperialism
Patrick Cockburn
Brexiteers Have Much in Common With Arab Spring Protesters
Franklin Lamb
How 100 Syrians, 200 Russians and 11 Dogs Out-Witted ISIS and Saved Palmyra
John Grant
Omar Mateen: The Answers are All Around Us
Dean Baker
In the Wake of Brexit Will the EU Finally Turn Away From Austerity?
Ralph Nader
The IRS and the Self-Minimization of Congressman Jason Chaffetz
Johan Galtung
Goodbye UK, Goodbye Great Britain: What Next?
Martha Pskowski
Detained in Dilley: Deportation and Asylum in Texas
Binoy Kampmark
Headaches of Empire: Brexit’s Effect on the United States
Dave Lindorff
Honest Election System Needed to Defeat Ruling Elite
Louisa Willcox
Delisting Grizzly Bears to Save the Endangered Species Act?
Jason Holland
The Tragedy of Nothing
Jeffrey St. Clair
Revolution Reconsidered: a Fragment (Guest Starring Bernard Sanders in the Role of Robespierre)
Weekend Edition
June 24, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
A Blow for Peace and Democracy: Why the British Said No to Europe
Pepe Escobar
Goodbye to All That: Why the UK Left the EU
Michael Hudson
Revolts of the Debtors: From Socrates to Ibn Khaldun
Andrew Levine
Summer Spectaculars: Prelude to a Tea Party?
Kshama Sawant
Beyond Bernie: Still Not With Her
Mike Whitney
¡Basta Ya, Brussels! British Voters Reject EU Corporate Slavestate
Tariq Ali
Panic in the House: Brexit as Revolt Against the Political Establishment
Paul Street
Miranda, Obama, and Hamilton: an Orwellian Ménage à Trois for the Neoliberal Age
Ellen Brown
The War on Weed is Winding Down, But Will Monsanto Emerge the Winner?
Gary Leupp
Why God Created the Two-Party System
Conn Hallinan
Brexit Vote: a Very British Affair (But Spain May Rock the Continent)
Ruth Fowler
England, My England
Jeffrey St. Clair
Lines Written on the Occasion of Bernie Sanders’ Announcement of His Intention to Vote for Hillary Clinton
Norman Pollack
Fissures in World Capitalism: the British Vote
Paul Bentley
Mercenary Logic: 12 Dead in Kabul
Binoy Kampmark
Parting Is Such Sweet Joy: Brexit Prevails!
Elliot Sperber
Show Me Your Papers: Supreme Court Legalizes Arbitrary Searches
Jan Oberg
The Brexit Shock: Now It’s All Up in the Air
Nauman Sadiq
Brexit: a Victory for Britain’s Working Class
Brian Cloughley
Murder by Drone: Killing Taxi Drivers in the Name of Freedom
Ramzy Baroud
How Israel Uses Water as a Weapon of War
Brad Evans – Henry Giroux
The Violence of Forgetting
Ben Debney
Homophobia and the Conservative Victim Complex
Margaret Kimberley
The Orlando Massacre and US Foreign Policy
David Rosen
Americans Work Too Long for Too Little
Murray Dobbin
Do We Really Want a War With Russia?
Kathy Kelly
What’s at Stake
Louis Yako
I Have Nothing “Newsworthy” to Report this Week
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail