Wind farm and health issues
By Lindsey Harrison
According to an Aug. 26 El Paso County press release, construction at the NextEra Energy Resources wind farm project in Calhan is nearing completion. “All 145 concrete foundations to support the wind turbine towers have now been completed … and 120 of the authorized 145 turbines are now fully erected, with only electrical work remaining to be completed.”
Although the press release states that the turbines will not be functional until the electrical work has been finished, it also states that the turbines could move in the wind, which is already causing health concerns for residents living within the wind farm’s footprint.
One resident, who wished to remain anonymous, said she knew right away that the turbines were moving because she began to feel nauseous, along with a headache. “I have 100 turbines to the north of me, 25 to the west and 20 to the southwest,” she said. “When the wind was coming out of the north, I woke up feeling dizzy and nauseous.”
She also said her animals were acting strangely. “My donkeys and horses keep wanting to go back into their stalls,” she said. “They have not wanted to leave the barn all day.”
Robert Rand, a Boulder, Colorado, resident and an acoustic investigator and member of the Acoustical Society of America, said the reason for the headaches and nausea is directly related to the wind turbines. It has to do with infrasound and low frequency noise, he said.
According to an article written by acoustic engineer Richard James, published at http://wiseenergy.org Feb. 20, “Infrasound is acoustic energy, sound pressure, just like the low to high frequency sounds that we are accustomed to hearing. What makes infrasound different is that it is at the lowest end of the acoustical frequency spectrum even below the deep bass rumble of distant thunder or all but the largest pipe organ tones.
“As the frequency of an infrasonic tone moves to lower frequencies: 5Hz, 2Hz, 1Hz and lower, the sounds are more likely to be perceived as separate pressure pulsations … . Unlike mid and high frequency sound, infrasound is not blocked by common construction materials. As such, it is often more of a problem inside homes, which are otherwise quiet, than it is outside the home.”
Rand said the separate pressure pulsations are like the “whump, whump, whump,” people sometimes experience when they are riding in a car with the windows down. “I have been attempting to acoustically measure phenomena that could present a conflict to human physiology that could then provide a basis to do more research,” Rand said. “My work in acoustics has really been designing and planning. I don’t need more medical research because I know what they (wind turbines) do to people because it happened to me.”
According to an article accepted into The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America Feb. 4, when the body experiences an external force on the inner ear, such as acoustic pressure pulses — but there is no visual input to associate with that pressure — a sensory conflict occurs. That conflict is felt as motion sickness, and it is felt to the same degree as seasickness.
The wind energy industry has claimed for decades that this phenomenon does not exist, in part, because about one-third of the human population is essentially immune to the effects of motion sickness, which is what these pressure pulsations induce, Rand said. Similarly, about one-third of the population appears to be readily prone to motion sickness, he said. “The third that is not affected by this will never understand it and will not know what you are talking about,” Rand said.
According to an article published in the Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society March 2, 2011, written by Dr. Alec Salt: “Infrasound from wind turbines is unlikely to be harmful in the same way as high-level audible sounds.”
However, Salt also states that numerous reports “are highly suggestive that individuals living near wind turbines are made ill, with a plethora of symptoms, which commonly include chronic sleep disturbance. The fact that such reports are being dismissed on the grounds that the level of infrasound produced by wind turbines is at too low a level to be heard appears to totally ignore the known physiology of the ear.”