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Could Wind Turbines Really Be Bad For Your Health?

Complaints of headaches and ear pain from those living near turbines have largely been viewed skeptically from within the scientific community. A new study may start to change those views.

What’s the Latest Development?

A study published in last month’s Journal of Laryngology & Otology described how a type of low-frequency noise called infrasound can have negative effects on the inner ear, resulting in pain, dizziness, and other complaints. Because wind turbines produce infrasound when in operation, the study seems to give some credence to “wind turbine syndrome,” a term coined by pediatrician Nina Pierpont to identify the descriptions of physical ailments she’s collected over the years from people who live near turbines. Ear-nose-throat resident Amir Farboud, a co-author of the study, warns that it doesn’t provide a conclusive connection between turbines and illness, but he also admits, “The more you look into it, the more you realize there’s some science behind this.”

What’s the Big Idea?

A variety of experts have long dismissed claims of turbine-related illness, blaming them on reactionary anti-turbine activism. In a separate study published last month on the University of Sydney’s Web site, public health professor Simon Chapman notes that in the 20 years since turbines began operating in Australia, only five of the country’s 49 wind farms have ever received complaints, and all of those farms were targeted by turbine opponents. He believes wind turbine syndrome “is a result of the nocebo effect, in which merely suggesting that something could be harmful to your health causes it to be so.”

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Read it at NPR


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