I have to say, I’m pretty skeptical of this study. On the surface it seems pretty straightforward: most of the families who lived near wind farms had a similar (if vague) constellation of symptoms including sleep trouble, nightmares, migraines, and other generically scary stuff. Dr. Nina Pierpont suggests this is an effect of long-term exposure of the inner ear to low-frequency vibrations produced by wind turbines. Here’s where I take issue with the idea, but I don’t want to take up the whole front page with my reservations. Click below for why I think this is nothing but a healthy dose of fear, uncertainty, and doubt.
Let’s do a little experiment. Yes, right now! Turn off the music and listen. Do you hear anything? Listen harder. Can you hear those power lines buzzing? Can you hear the fridge hum? Can you hear the freeway rumble? We are saturated with noise and hardly notice it. Even in remote parts of the country you are exposed to it, and if constant noise at any frequency were as harmful as Pierpont suggests, those of us in urban areas would all be long dead.
Even if there is a secret frequency that causes all these vague and overreported symptoms to increase, what’s the mechanism? How could a (dis)harmonic frequency be the same for men, women, children of all sizes with different inner ears, different susceptibilities? The symptoms reported are like a laundry list of the most commonly reported problems all over the world since long before wind turbines started spinning.
And even if we grant this secret frequency and that the symptoms reported are related, just how little respect is being given to our bodies and brains? Your brain and inner ear are fabulously elegant and self-repairing; we naturally adapt to a constant stimulus over a period of time, it’s built into neural hardware going all the way back to sea snails. A low-frequency hum somehow cuts through defenses that have held up in the brains of sailors in nuclear submarines for months? Go watch Das Boot and tell me that you’d prefer a month of wind turbines.
I’ll acknowledge that the hum from a wind turbine might be noticeable, and might even bug some people until they got used to it, but I have to object to the idea that they could cause the medical problems suggested, by any mechanism whatsoever. Let me offer my own professional diagnosis of the people suffering from windmills being put in nearby: acute NIMBYitis.
[via Daily Tech]