Mars Hill Wind Turbine Project Health Effects — Preliminary Symptoms Survey Results
Author: | Health, Human rights, Maine, Noise, Property values, Regulations
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Presentation to Maine Medical Association, March 20, 2009
There are 28 389-ft-tall 1.5-MW GE turbines on Mars Hill in Aroostook County, Maine, with 20 homes within 3,400 feet (just over 1 kilometer) north and east of them, representing 35 adults and 16 children. Dr. Nissenbaum, a radiologist at Northern Maine Medical Center, interviewed 15 of the adults, from 9 homes 1,200-3,400 feet (average 2,500 ft) from the nearest turbine. The subjects comprised 7 women ranging in age from 41 to 73 years and 8 men aged 47-75 years; the average ages were 59 and 61 years, respectively.
Since the wind turbines began turning in December 2006, 93% of those interviewed experience sleep disturbance, 60% 5-7 times per week, 87% to a degree that they have consulted a doctor. 53% have increased headaches, 40% newly onset. 20% experience dizziness, and 20% unusual body sensations (2 subjects reported chest pulsations, 1 pulsatile ear pressure). 33% are troubled by shadow flicker: 2 subjects experience nausea and dizziness, 2 dizziness only, and 1 migraines. 33% have gained weight, and 1 subject has lost weight.
73% have feelings of stress, 87% anger, 40% anxiety, 27% irritability, 73% hopelessness, and 53% depression (7 out of 8 new, and 1 subject increased). The anger can be extreme, as evidenced in comments such as: “Absolute rage – you feel you want to kill someone” (67-year-old woman) and “So angry I could kill” (65-year-old man). Hopelessness is also deep: “Nobody will help us”; “No options – can’t leave, and can’t live here”; “People don’t believe us”; “No one cares. No one listens”; “It’s very hard watching my child suffer”. Two women and 2 men (27%) were tearful at points during their interviews.
20% received new prescriptions for depression, and 1 subject’s existing depression medication was increased. 20% were newly diagnosed with hypertension, and 1 subject’s blood pressure worsened; all were offered new or increased medication, and 3 of the 4 subjects accepted.
100% agreed that their quality of life has been affected, with comments such as: “Loss of joy in living … put a lot of life’s plans on hold”; “No desire to go outside”; “Feel trapped”; “Dreams have been dashed”; “We have no peace and quiet”; “My husband’s [who has advanced MS] only pleasure in life was to see the wild animals. They are gone”; “No sleep”: “Sinking feeling every night when I [come home] and see them”.
100% have considered moving away, and 73% can’t afford to. For 90% of the homes (8 oout of 9), loss of home value by recent appraisal makes it impossible to move away.
Dr. Nissenbaum emphasizes that this is a preliminary report, the sample size is small, and the data are retrospective. There is no control group, and statistical analysis has not yet been performed. Nonetheless, the trends are alarming.
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