Many families and communities throughout Cape Cod and our commonwealth are being severely affected by land-based wind turbines. Individuals have developed health problems. Real estate prices have dropped. Otherwise peaceful towns are in an uproar over existing and proposed turbines.
There are concerns on both sides. Some people say that those living near wind turbines have become ill or can’t sell their homes, and that solar energy is more fiscally responsible and better for the environment.
Others say wind energy will save communities money and provides an appropriate source of renewable energy.
However, the fact is there are 21 confirmed locations in Massachusetts where people living close to wind turbines are reporting health problems they did not have before construction of nearby wind turbines.
The symptoms they report include sleep disturbance and deprivation, headaches, ringing in the ears, tachycardia (fast heart rate), dizziness, vertigo, nausea, visual blurring, panic and loss of concentration.
We need to know why these people are experiencing health problems. Over three years ago, I and other Massachusetts citizens requested that the Massachusetts Department of Public Health conduct a comprehensive study of the public health and safety impacts of the land-based wind turbines.
More than a year later, a panel was appointed by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. Following the department’s release of what it characterized at the time as preliminary findings were more than 500 comments with more than 4,600 pages. Most comments were highly critical of the limited literature review, the panel and the process. All meetings were held in secret with no public participation. No meeting minutes or accounts of any of the proceedings have been released.
State Rep. Sarah Peake has introduced a bill (H. 2048) that calls for the commonwealth to convene a health commission to study the health impacts from land-based wind turbines. This legislation is about conducting honest scientific and medical research, developing educational materials and developing training for health care professionals. Massachusetts citizens deserve no less.
H. 2048 is modeled after the highly successful Lyme Disease Commission bill, for good reason. In the early days of Lyme disease, just like the situation today with wind turbines, people who became sick and health care professionals did not have enough information to understand the problem. Many medical professionals told those who complained of health problems that the symptoms were psychosomatic. This assessment proved wrong.
It is time to quiet the rhetoric and make decisions regarding wind turbines by finding the real facts about the health impacts of the turbines.
Lilli-Ann Green of Wellfleet is CEO of a health care consulting and quality improvement company and a board member of Wind Wise – Massachusetts, a statewide organization, and Windwise – Cape Cod, a regional organization, both being alliances of grass-roots environmental groups and individuals.
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