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.
Download original document: “Mars Hill Wind Turbine Project Health Effects – Preliminary Symptoms Survey Results”
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