|Waterloo Wind Farm
|This is one of the more controversial wind farms in
Humans are very poor at deciding what is causing them to be ill
History shows us that before science
discovered the true causes of illnesses our ancestors came up with all sorts of explanations which were almost always quite wrong.
At one time witchcraft was blamed for many illnesses; malaria (as the name
implies) was blamed on 'bad air'; mental illnesses were blamed on possession
by demons; for centuries many illnesses were blamed on an imbalance of the four
'humours', blood, yellow bile, black bile and phlegm – blood-letting
was an attempt to rebalance the humours.
The belief that wind turbines cause illness is just another of these;
it is entirely unsupported by science.
Why it is foolish to believe that wind turbines can make people ill.
There is nothing in respectable
peer-reviewed scientific journals indicating
a direct link between wind turbines and ill-health.
If wind turbines really were making people ill it would not be difficult to
do research to provide convincing evidence
No one has reported on research demonstrating such a link.
In addition to the peer-reviewed literature science depends on rational
argument – the points below show that it is irrational to claim that
turbines cause health problems;
There is no known mechanism by which turbines could
make people ill.
There are very few things known to science that are undetectable to our
senses yet can
harm from a distance – wind turbines produce none of these.
audible sound and
infrasound from wind turbines are much
too low to be harmful);
There is little, if any, correspondence between a person's exposure to wind
turbines and their likelihood of reporting symptoms.
The intensity of anything radiating from a wind turbine must decrease with
distance according to the
inverse square law of physics.
The claimed illnesses are just as likely to occur at larger distances rather
than smaller: they show no
correlation, which is quite counter to the science of epidemiology.
Wind farm workers, who are often very close to wind turbines, very rarely
complain of symptoms.
The great majority of people are unaffected by nearby turbines and
the alleged cases of illness are almost all in people who get no financial
benefit from the wind turbines and in those who started with negative opinions
Farmers who are receiving lease payments and
wind farm workers hardly ever claim a health problem from turbines.
The 'problems' are almost entirely confined to
(because that's where they have had the publicity).
- Legal cases:
From 1998 to 2014 there were 49 legal cases against wind farms on health
grounds; 48 were decided in favour of the wind farms.
(See Energy Policy Institute; written by
associated with wind turbines are those of anxiety-related disorders (see
Opinion from a clinical psychologist).
People who are under the impression that they will become ill if exposed to
infrasound, and are then told that they are being exposed to infrasound, are
likely to experience adverse symptoms.
(See Research into
infrasound perception: Fiona Crichton et. al.).
So the evidence is that the symptoms ascribed to wind turbines are
much more likely to be psychosomatic and due to the
- Car analogy:
Wind turbines have three main parts: a fan, a gearbox and a generator.
Our cars have the same parts.
Sound levels at all frequencies are much higher in cars than near wind
How many of us think that
our cars are making us sick?;
- My own experience:
I have visited many wind farms on many occasions, have even
slept beneath operating wind turbines
a number of times, in a
cabin 850m from an
operating turbine twice, and in a
500m from a wind turbine on another occasion.
I have never heard sounds from the turbines loud enough to be unpleasant.
I have never felt any ill-effects that might be ascribed to infrasound or
any other emanations from the turbines.
- Crystal Brook has the closest
medical practice to the Clements Gap Wind Farm.
(It is my home town and the medical practice is where
Sarah Laurie practiced as a GP for a short while.)
Over the last few years
I have asked about six doctors in the practice whether they have had anyone
come to them with problems that they attributed to the wind turbines.
- Common sense: Wind turbines are machines.
Unless you get caught up in the mechanism, run over, electrocuted, or
deafened by loud noises etc., machines don't harm people.
In particular, machines do not harm people from a distance.
(Guns, if you want to call them machines, are a notable exception; even
then it is the projectile that does the harm when it penetrates your body,
rather than the gun itself harming you from a distance.)
The fear and anxiety toward wind turbines that is instilled in some
people by irresponsible rumour mongers and unethical or ill-informed
journalists may lead on to
These people are largely to blame for the
wind farms that we are seeing in some English speaking countries.
Some people who live or work near wind turbines complain of unpleasant
symptoms and believe that the turbines are the cause.
There are also many people living and working near wind turbines who have
no problems from the turbines.
I think these two statements would be accepted by almost everyone.
The argument is about what it is that is causing the symptoms in the first
We can chose one of two theories that seek to explain this:
The symptoms are caused by something coming from the
wind turbines; in which case we must also accept that:
Something unknown to science is coming
from the wind turbines – or there is
some quality in the sound of wind turbines unexplained by science –
to cause the symptoms, because we know that the
(including infrasound) is not loud enough to be harming anyone;
There is a huge range in people's susceptability to whatever it is that is
coming from the turbines; for example wind farm workers who have thousands of
times the exposure of 'affected people' are almost always unaffected.
We must suspend the
inverse square law
of physics as it would normally apply to anything coming from wind turbines;
The dose-response relationship, that
applies to all other environmental diseases, does not apply to 'wind turbine
syndrome', or is even reversed;
There is something different happening around wind turbines in the English
speaking world, because
very few people in non-English-speaking countries develop these symptoms.
Which theory sounds the more plausible?
The principal of Ockham's Razor tells us that if more than one hypothesis
fits the available evidence then the simplest one is to be preferred.
One is also reminded of the
Sagan Standard in which exceptional
claims call for exceptional evidence to support them.
There is no scientifically acceptable evidence supporting the 'Wind Turbine
There are very few things outside of the human body that cause illnesses or
- Ionising radiation such as alpha particles, beta particles, ultra-violet,
X-rays and gamma rays;
- Non-ionising radiation, such as microwaves and radio waves when at
very high intensities (due to their heating effect);
- Extremes of temperature;
- Violent physical impacts such as in vehicle accidents and sporting
- Toxins such as heavy metals (when injested), asbestos (when inhaled),
toxic gasses and
chemicals; silicate dust, hay dust or smoke when inhaled in large quantities
or over a long period (smoke and dust from coal burning kills millions of
people each year);
- Micro-organisms: some bacteria, protozoans, fungi, etc. if they somehow
invade the body;
- Very loud
noise can cause
harm and lower levels of noise can cause annoyance and difficulty in
Wind turbines do cause some noise, but at lower levels than many other
common sources such as road traffic, speech and music.
Wind turbines produce none of these.
To believe that wind turbines can cause illness, when they do not produce
any of these things, requires a great leap of faith; or should that be