EL PASO COUNTY –
While construction continues of a new wind farm near Calhan, one neighboring property owner is speaking up about a possible health concern that could affect her husband.
“My fear is when the cardiologist finally called me back because they had to do the research and found that these can and will set my husband off,” said Rebecca Rivas.
She said he carries a medical exemption card to help him avoid metal detectors which work by emitting inaudible very low frequency sounds. Rivas asked the Board of County Commissioners Tuesday to stop the wind farm development because she fears the low frequency sounds emitted by the turbines could also affect his heart condition.
“I wanted them to see a face of a family that will be affected by this,” Rivas said.
The commissioners are in the middle of defending themselves in a legal challenge over their land use decision and couldn’t comment. However, the County Attorney’s Office said plenty of testimony was given during the land use hearings about potential health impacts.
“Included in those 30 hours of testimony there was very relevant medical testimony from both professional and citizens that commissioners were able to take into consideration in rendering opinions,” said Senior Assistant County Attorney Diana K. May.
News 5 checked with the Colorado Chapter of the American College of Cardiology who told us their doctors haven’t really studied the issue.
A white paper paid for by the American Wind Energy Association from December of 2009 found no evidence for direct human health effects from turbines, primarily because decibel levels are too low. The industry paper references experiments from the Apollo space program that exposed subjects to high volumes of low frequency “infrasound” without recording harmful effects. They further point out that infrasound generated by wind turbines was measured at much lower volume levels that what was used in the experiments.
However, Paul Schomer, Standards Director Emeritus of the Acoustical Society of America, told us he thinks the industry’s information is flawed because it give weighting to audible levels of low frequency noise.
“Both the national and international standard of environmental noise say you don’t use A-weighting for low frequencies,” Schomer said. “So, they ignored the national and international standard.”
He believes report recently released by the government of Australia gives a more impartial look at the issue. It examines the disconnect “between the official position that wind turbines cause no harm to human health and the strong and continuing empirical, biological and anecdotal evidence of many people living in proximity to turbines suffering from similar physiological symptoms and distress.”
Rivas believes the amount of low frequency sounds produced by the turbines is still higher than what metal detectors give off. Given what she’s learned in her research, she feels she has little choice but to move.
“I feel like I’m being force out.”