News Release from American Clean Power Association (ACP)


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AWEA Blog - Wind farm neighbors stressed, but it’s not the wind turbines

“‘You’re not starting in the right place,’ resident Debbie Hughes told Bigelow, during the public comment portion of Monday’s meeting. ‘We are already affected by the turbines. Our stress is already high.’

We’ve posted here in recent days about how new research results suggest more and more strongly that physical ailments attributed to wind turbine sound are actually caused by the “nocebo” (similar to placebo) effect, in which people feel symptoms they have been led to expect. If true, this would mean that anti-wind groups fanning concerns about turbine sound are themselves causing the maladies they profess to fear.

Unexpected confirmation of this line of reasoning comes from a recent article in the publication Niagara - ThisWeek. It focuses on a researcher in Ontario who hopes to use a community where a wind farm is being planned to measure the facility’s before-and-after effects on nearby residents. However, when the researcher, Prof. Bill Bigelow of the University of Waterloo, met with residents of the town of West Lincoln, they told him it was “too late”–they were already severely stressed by thoughts of what the wind farm would do.

Quoting from the article:
“‘You’re not starting in the right place,’ resident Debbie Hughes told Bigelow, during the public comment portion of Monday’s meeting. ‘We are already affected by the turbines. Our stress is already high.’

“A dozen residents, all opposing wind turbines, shared similar messages.
“‘It’s too late, two years too late,’ said Helen Kzan … ‘I’ve been to the doctor. They told me to move. My stress level has skyrocketed. My physician told me my stress will kill me before the wind turbines.”

According to the article, Dr. Valerie Jaeger, Niagara’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, said she hopes community members will agree to participate in Prof. Bigelow’s study. It seems, however, that the “sample” to be used has already been “contaminated.” In fact, the whole concept of before-and-after, which is widely used in studying environmental impacts, may well be useless when it comes to nocebo–once people hear that a wind farm is planned and become exposed to the overheated rhetoric typically employed by anti-wind groups, there is no longer a “before.”

West Lincoln itself actually provides a before-and-after of a different type–clearly, anti-wind advocacy that centers on health impacts is damaging to people’s health, even when wind turbines are nowhere to be seen.

Useful articles on the nocebo effect:
New Yorker blog, “The Nocebo Effect: How We Worry Ourselves Sick”

Media Matters for America blog, “NPR Gives Wind Power Hypochondriacs a Platform”

Slate, “Can Wind Turbines Make You Sick?”

The Conversation, “How the power of suggestion generates wind farm symptoms”

Related articles:

New Yorker explains nocebo effect, NPR airs junk science, April 8, 2013

Science: Anti-wind groups appear to spread illnesses they complain of, March 21, 2013

Ontario resident’s personal testimony: ‘Anti-wind groups make me sick’, March 13, 2013

GMP reports on Kingdom Community Wind sound levels, March 5, 2013

South Australia study finds infrasound from wind farms not a concern, February 4, 2013

Science proves that wind energy is safe for Wisconsin, January 9, 2013

Ontario tribunal turns down anti-wind appeal, December 26, 2012

Reason trumps fear in Australian debate on wind energy and sound, December 5, 2012

Nissenbaum paper on turbine sound recycles claims on wind energy and health already found inadequate by courts and expert panel, November 16, 2012

Negative oriented personality traits and wind turbine sound, November 2, 2012

Quality of research on wind farms published in the Bulletin of Science, Technology and Society, September 25, 2012

‘Say No to Wind Turbines’–and Yes to ?, July 25, 2012

Fact check: On turbine sound, it’s Bryce vs. science, July 24, 2012

Wind turbines not a threat to human health, another study finds, May 31, 2012

Opinion: Wind turbines are good for our health, March 2, 2012

Review of wind turbine sound studies gives debate needed balance, February 28, 2012

Anti-wind-farm “astroturfers” in Australia, February 27, 2012

NBC4′s ‘iReporter’ lacks context on wind turbine sound, February 14, 2012

Fact check: Bryce misleads again on land, sound, resource use, January 31, 2012

Massachusetts clears wind of health effects after independent experts review evidence, January 20, 2012

Opinion: Dr. W. David Colby: Turbines and health, December 2, 2011

Canadian researchers: No direct link between wind turbines and adverse health impacts, November 29, 2011

Wind power: A quiet solution to climate change, June 27, 2011

Sierra Club Canada 1.1: Time to confront anti-wind fear campaign, June 15, 2011

Environmental Defence (Canada): ‘No basis’ for health impact claims, June 6, 2011

Sierra Club Canada: Time to confront anti-wind disinformation campaign, June 3, 2011

WHO guidelines on sound are … guidelines, March 28, 2011

Scientists, doctor weigh on wind and health, November 30, 2010

Wind Turbines and Health, fact sheet

Maine physician: distortion in anti-wind health claims, November 3, 2010

Australian health agency: Turbine sound has no health effect, July 6, 2010

UK report debunks wind turbine syndrome, June 9, 2010

Wind gets clean bill of health from Ontario, May 20, 2010

Expert panel concludes wind turbine sounds not harmful to human health, December 15

American Wind Energy Association / By John Anderson
Posted by Trevor Sievert, Online Editorial Journalist / By AWEA Staff, By John Anderson, Director of Siting Policy

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