Wind turbine syndrome

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The term “wind turbine syndrome” was given by New York physician Nina Pierpont to a common set of symptoms reported by people complaining of newly onset health effects after large wind turbines begin operating nearby.[1] It is different from vibroacoustic disease. It is also different from the health effects of annoyance and sleep deprivation, although some of the symptoms overlap.[2]

Pierpont described wind turbine syndrome as the result of low-frequency noise or vibration tricking the body’s balance system into thinking that it’s moving, similarly to motion sickness. Disturbed sensory input to the eyes, ears, and stretch and pressure receptors in a variety of body locations is mediated by the vestibular system in the inner ear, feeding back neurologically to a person’s sense of position and motion in space, which is in turn connected in multiple ways to brain functions as disparate as spatial memory and anxiety.

She lists the symptoms of wind turbine syndrome as:

  • sleep disturbance
  • headache
  • tinnitus (ringing or buzzing in the ears)
  • ear pressure
  • dizziness (vertigo, lightheadedness, sensation of almost fainting, etc.)
  • vertigo (sensation of spinning, or the room moving)
  • nausea
  • visual blurring
  • tachycardia (rapid heart rate)
  • irritability
  • problems with concentration and memory
  • panic episodes associated with sensations of internal pulsation or quivering, which arise while awake or asleep

When people who are affected leave the area of the wind turbines, they experience relief from their symptoms.

See Health Effects of Noise from Large Wind Turbines.