Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Keep CounterPunch ad free. Support our annual fund drive today!

Wind Turbine Syndrome


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:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine


October 25, 2016
Hiroyuki Hamada
Fear Laundering: an Elaborate Psychological Diversion and Bid for Power
Kathy Deacon
Plus ça Change: Regime Change 1917-1920
Priti Gulati Cox
President Obama: Before the Empire Falls, Free Leonard Peltier and Mumia Abu-Jamal
Robin Goodman
Appetite for Destruction: America’s War Against Itself
Richard Moser
On Power, Privilege, and Passage: a Letter to My Nephew
Rev. William Alberts
The Epicenter of the Moral Universe is Our Common Humanity, Not Religion
Dan Bacher
Inspector General says Reclamation wasted $32.2 million on Klamath irrigators
David Mattson
A Recipe for Killing: the “Trust Us” Argument of State Grizzly Bear Managers
Derek Royden
The Tragedy in Yemen
Ralph Nader
Breaking Through Power: It’s Easier Than We Think
Norman Pollack
Centrist Fascism: Lurching Forward
Guillermo R. Gil
Cell to Cell Communication: On How to Become Governor of Puerto Rico
Mateo Pimentel
You, Me, and the Trolley Make Three
David Swanson
Halloween Is Coming, Vladimir Putin Isn’t
Cathy Breen
“Today Is One of the Heaviest Days of My Life”
October 24, 2016
John Steppling
The Unwoke: Sleepwalking into the Nightmare
Oscar Ortega
Clinton’s Troubling Silence on the Dakota Access Pipeline
Patrick Cockburn
Aleppo vs. Mosul: Media Biases
John Grant
Humanizing Our Militarized Border
Franklin Lamb
US-led Sanctions Targeting Syria Risk Adjudication as War Crimes
Paul Bentley
There Must Be Some Way Out of Here: the Silence of Dylan
Norman Pollack
Militarism: The Elephant in the Room
Patrick Bosold
Dakota Access Oil Pipeline: Invite CEO to Lunch, Go to Jail
Paul Craig Roberts
Was Russia’s Hesitation in Syria a Strategic Mistake?
David Swanson
Of All the Opinions I’ve Heard on Syria
Weekend Edition
October 21, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Wight
Hillary Clinton and the Brutal Murder of Gaddafi
Diana Johnstone
Hillary Clinton’s Strategic Ambition in a Nutshell
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Trump’s Naked and Hillary’s Dead
John W. Whitehead
American Psycho: Sex, Lies and Politics Add Up to a Terrifying Election Season
Stephen Cooper
Hell on Earth in Alabama: Inside Holman Prison
Patrick Cockburn
13 Years of War: Mosul’s Frightening and Uncertain Future
Rob Urie
Name the Dangerous Candidate
Pepe Escobar
The Aleppo / Mosul Riddle
David Rosen
The War on Drugs is a Racket
Sami Siegelbaum
Once More, the Value of the Humanities
Cathy Breen
“Today Is One of the Heaviest Days of My Life”
Neve Gordon
Israel’s Boycott Hypocrisy
Mark Hand
Of Pipelines and Protest Pens: When the Press Loses Its Shield
Victor Wallis
On the Stealing of U.S. Elections
Michael Hudson
The Return of the Repressed Critique of Rentiers: Veblen in the 21st century Rentier Capitalism
Brian Cloughley
Drumbeats of Anti-Russia Confrontation From Washington to London
Howard Lisnoff
Still Licking Our Wounds and Hoping for Change
Brian Gruber
Iraq: There Is No State
Peter Lee
Trump: We Wish the Problem Was Fascism
Stanley L. Cohen
Equality and Justice for All, It Seems, But Palestinians