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back to article Wind farms make you sick … with worry and envy

Professor Simon Chapman, the public health advocate behind the global push for ugly cigarette packets, has turned his attention to “wind turbine sickness”, the condition caused by infrasound vibrations from the turbines' colossal blades. Chapman believes the condition is bunk and has co-authored a paper, titled Spatio-temporal …

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"Chapman and his co-authors assert that if real health problems existed, peer-reviewed studies would exist detailing the issues."

Maybe it's just me, but that argument seems specious. "People shouldn't bother studying this because it's a hoax" and "it's a hoax because no-one studies it" seems a little circular for my taste.

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I think the point of the paper is that the 'wind farm illness' is most likely psychological than physical given the current stats.

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"Maybe it's just me, but that argument seems specious. "People shouldn't bother studying this because it's a hoax" and "it's a hoax because no-one studies it" seems a little circular for my taste."

I'm pretty certain that groups opposed to wind farms would stump up the cash for such a study and it would be published in a reputable medical journal if it met the appropriate thresholds for quality to pass peer review.

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Just because it's psychological doesn't mean it's NOT an illness. Of course, it means that the cure is simple - stop accepting and internalising the scaremongering arguments that get thrown around with gay abandon

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peer reviewed?

You miss the point of the statement, and no it's not circular. Its not that studies don't exist, there are probably plenty around produced by the anti-windfarm activists, but once these studies are presented for peer review none of them pass, therefore the statement is, "we have no peer-reviewed" studies, and not "we have no studies."

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Facepalm

Chapman forgot to measure the infrasound produced so he doesn't know who in his sample was subject to what, so no comparison is possible. Rather like doing a drug trial and forgetting to record who was the control group.

Is this science? and who would want to pay for it?

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Indeed..

The problem with infrasound is it propagates in strange ways and can be massively amplified by resonance in structures.

It is also very disturbing if perception of it is subliminal. I remember years ago feeling very odd, in a friends basement flat. Eventually I realised it seemed to be periodically trembling. "Oh yes, the tube is just underneath" he said.

Once I knew what it was, my instinctive 'flight or fight' reaction subsided..

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Happy

Re: Indeed..

Well I get Ultra Low Infrasonic Sound Waves amplifying in the resonant cavity between my ears, and this results in psychogeneis of the osciliatory resonance nerve behind my eyeballs, which transductancely stimulates the optic nerves to alternately brighten and dim my vision if I am within a 500Km radius of a wind turbine.

Even the ones that are not rotating cause it.

It's THAT bad.

"Oh Jesus, Jesus, pick me up in your UFO and take me to heaven on the dark side of the moon, with the Atlanteans and their Alien tech - I have my tin foil hat on....."

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FAIL

Sounds like fan death to me

There is nothing so wrong someone somewhere won't believe it.

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Trollface

Re: Sounds like fan death to me

Ignorance is usually the deciding factor as to whether or not someone believes in "fan-death".

I have slept with a fan running in my room (for the white-noise sound it makes) with the windows closed for almost a decade, I wake up every day, surprised to still be alive.

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Coffee/keyboard

Re: Sounds like fan death to me

MacGyver - you owe me a new keyboard. That is all.

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Meh

Lived with wind turbines all around us for years while living in Germany. I can see 20 from the kitchen window. However it was the nuclear power plant at the bottom of the valley (near Hameln) on the river Weser and with the prevailing winds always heading in our direction that was of more concern.

Strangely many older people in the village seem to develop cancer, though they are generally all older than 85+ when they die.

Would they have lived to 100 if there had been no power plant?

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You'd have to look at the numbers and types of cancer against other control groups who have lived a similar lifestyle but not lived near a nuclear plant. Honestly, with that age group my hunch might be more towards exposure to chemicals during ww2 or similar. 85+ is a decent innings. Is there any prevalent type of cancer? i.e. thyroid? I don't mean to sound callous or try to debunk your comment but octogenarians dying of cancer, whilst sad, is not entirely remarkable.

As for turbines making people ill, I don't like them, they are ugly and noisy and expensive, but making people ill? Some people think a wifi router 200 feet away makes them ill, some people think little green men make them ill. Whilst it's possibly worth a small scale study to genuinely look at it if there are enough cases, my gut feeling (ok, not exactly scientific) is that it is absolute bollocks of the highest order and just the normal whining from people with nothing better in their lives.

Also a leaky nuclear plant wouldn't be very efficient and that wouldn't be very German would it :)

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Paris Hilton

> Would they have lived to 100 if there had been no power plant?

Would they have lived if they hadn't died?

I do feel that the "wind turbines make me sick" thing is pure imagination, but there is no reason to go for the "nuclear power plants do me in" thing. If the latter were the case, then it would be evident. Greenfags and Gaiaists have been crawling all over the stats for half a century now. It's like the "overhead high voltage lines cancer me up" thing.

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That neon cat sick green colour ford use on their cars makes me sick, I can supply pictures as proof. Can we have that banned and some compo please!!

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> Strangely many older people in the village seem to develop cancer,

Not so strangely, you'll find that is true everywhere. If you haven't died of something else by the time you're 85, the odds are pretty high that you'll have a cancer of some sort. Most people will die with it, rather than of it, though.

It is one of the reasons that cancer seems more common, we can deal with most of the things that used to kill people earlier, before the cancer was noticed.

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Efficiency

Also a leaky nuclear plant wouldn't be very efficient and that wouldn't be very German would it

Oh, I don't know. The nuclear plants here don't have a particularly good record for efficiency just for making money for the owners which they do pretty shortly after being turned on. Or even after being turned off: we're looking at claims from up to € 20 billion from the owners about them being closed early. Against that background it's hardly surprising that the current environment minister is keen to talk absolutely anything else!

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Re: Efficiency

"Or even after being turned off: we're looking at claims from up to € 20 billion from the owners about them being closed early"

Well that one IS sort of reasonable. Theoretical calculations follow, not based on any specific case but a feasible example....

They spent the money up front to build a facility on the basis of a certain life, having worked out that it will have paid for itself after x years and it's lifespan is x+10 years thereby giving a decent return on the investment compared to sticking it in a bank. This will have been underpinned by assurances by the German giovernment that they would buy the electricity generated. They then get told they have to turn it off after x-10 years, before it's even paid for the construction costs, and despite the assurances they'd received before building the facility. So yes reasonable that they've asked for compensation in this case.

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Anonymous Coward

It's not always the power station you have to worry about...

Up this end of the world we have Trawsfynydd Nuclear Power Station, a 60s vintage beast of a thing, now being decommissioned.

Some people in the area blamed the site for a slightly higher than normal cancer rate in the area. Thing was, the site was built in an area with high levels of radon gas emissions, to the point that if it was heavy, windless day the station's own radiation meters would start alerting due to ambient gas levels, rather than any leak from the site.

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> Strangely many older people in the village seem to develop cancer,

Who says the Germans don't have a sense of humour. It's too subtle for some readers here.

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Perhaps like the Spanish Inquisition, we just weren't expecting it!

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Re: Efficiency

Which is absolutely reasonable and totally against the way a 'market' functions.

Which is why the market is a stupid way to meet societies need for power. And why the lights are about to start going out in blighty, that is if we don't adopt the same approach as the Germans and makeup the capacity shortfall (in their case from closing the nukes, in ours from stupidity) by buying in french leccy (nuclear sourced, of course)

hey ho, it's a good job that stable and reliable electricity supplies are not a key requisite for a modern economy!

oh, hang on a minute.....

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"As for turbines making people ill, I don't like them, they are ugly and noisy and expensive, but making people ill?"

Actually, in theory they can (or at least make people feel ill), but it would be dependent on varying conditions such as wind speed.

Engineers might understand the first issue: Harmonics. Sound waves can induce nausea, headaches and other 'illnesses' if they're at the right frequency and exposure is maintained for a period of time.

Magnetic fields can cause problems, too.

Flickering from the blade rotation can affect some people.

Vapor from lubricants, paints and other chemicals can cause a feeling of illness.

Of cause, as I noted at the start, all the above are dependent various conditions, and these include proximity to the source, and most can easily be avoided or prevented. As such, they generally apply to people working on the wind farms more than people in the surrounding area. The only exception is harmonics, which vary depending on wind speed. The drone from the turbines is reported to cause disturbance to sleep patterns which can lead to illness. This has been reported by people living in valleys where wind farms have been sited, and by people living close to the turbines. It is a common argument presented to oppose a new wind farm being erected.

Thing is, a small scale study will be unlikely to uncover the truth. It would take a long term study to find out what the health implications are and those are expensive. I believe, however, that such studies are being undertaken, funded by people on both sides of the fence, so to speak. It will be interesting to see what the outcome is, but I'm predicting a bun fight.

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Re: It's not always the power station you have to worry about...

"Some people in the area blamed the site for a slightly higher than normal cancer rate in the area"

From what you said, they're probably right - about the site, but not necessarily the buildings on it. :) :)

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True it is vaguely possible but some people are affected by the weirdest of things.

If there is enough provisional evidence and a statistical link then sure yes do a study, but it has to be a genuine, independant study that gets peer reviewed. Not either side getting a prof that needs a donation for a sem to knock up something pretty in spss that proves nothing.

I live maybe 120 miles from an active volcano, when the wind blows in the wrong direction a few people complaint about 'vog' and how they can't possibly work today yadda yadda. Personally I don't notice it, I haven't ever noticed it, then again I don't check the wind direction the minute I wake up and decide in. advance it will be terrible. It would be interesting to have the weather forecast lie and see how the 'sensitive folks' react. It may be genuine! I could be tempted to lay a small wager it's not however, especially as these are the type of folks who get everything they see on TV including restless leg syndrome (no really).

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It's not always the power station you have to worry about...

Good point, well made!

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Radiation sources

It's odd how nobody complains about increased cancer levels near coal fired powerplants, when they emit more radiation than nuclear powerplants. :)

The difference, I guess, is that everybody knows radiation is produced in large amounts in nuclear powerplants (and contained within), whereas fewer people are aware of the continous emission of low level radiation from coal powerplants. :)

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Re: Efficiency

"So yes reasonable that they've asked for compensation in this case."

especially because there was no real reason for the plants to close besides FUD about Fukushima. It's like telling Mercedes, BMW, Audi, VW, Opel to stop producing cars because a 20-year old Toyota failed a crash-test

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Anonymous Coward

Were they.....

Standing on their heads at the time?

Or were there Klingons orbiting Uranus?

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Re: Efficiency

Well that one IS sort of reasonable. Theoretical calculations follow, not based on any specific case but a feasible example....

Oh, I agree. It was one of most egregious mistakes of the current government, against the express advice of the then minister, to reverse the previous law on phasing out nuclear power and reverse that decision only two months later after having signed contracts with the power companies. The matter is now with the courts and as property is protected by the constitution I think it has a high chance of succeeding which is why I expect we will have to pay and why the current minister is throwing up smoke bombs about the renewables cross-subsidy.

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I'll concur about turbine illness

but the approach in the debunking paper doesn't sound a whole lot better than the other idiots.

What was that line from Romeo and Juliet?

Oh yeah:

A plague on both your Houses!

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Trollface

Re: Actually, in theory they can (or at least make people feel ill)

I blame it on the dead birds. You see that many dead birds near a place and you know if something isn't already wrong, it soon will be.

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If there is enough provisional evidence

Needs a bit more than a peer review these days. I'd say it also has to have the cleansed and aggregated data published as well. As far down the scale as you can get without disclosing PII.

If you are sensitive it is genuine. If you aren't sensitive what makes it even more confusing is that it isn't necessarily consistent for those of us who are. I'd say 9 times out of 10 I'm the first person to notice the smell of insulation burning off an electrical wire, but other things I can' smell because of my allergies. Perfume is another thing that can set me off (and oddly enough it is more often men who cause the problem) depending on the scent. I'd imagine the sulfur dioxide would be the issue with the volcano and that's on the list of things I notice. And until LCDs took over the market, I was usually the first guy to hear the monitor hum on the soon to be failing CRT.

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Flame

Re: a sense of humour

"Who says the Germans don't have a sense of humour."

From reading the messages in response to LarsG I was going to suggest he used the joke alert next time not to confuse people. But on an other note, about shutting down nuclear plants. Politicos do funny thing in front of elections, fishing for votes, fearing to die. That happened in Sweden, and is more or less forgotten now.

The same thing happened in Germany and they will wake up too, eventually, I hope, lets say with some slight compromise like shutting down the oldest an smallest. I think that is a lesser stupidity than shutting down all.

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Re: Efficiency

"FUD about Fukushima". As much as I hate to say it, there was not much FUD about Fukushima. They (the company) blew it. They had been told in advance that they did not have the amount of back up electricity to run down the plant properly, if a problem. They just ignored that warning, out of greed or stupidity or both. And while some say nobody has died they omit the number of suicide among those who cannot return to their homes.

I am for nuclear power (and not against wind or sun power) because nuclear is, and can be improved in every respect. Also there are so many countries where the only real alternative to nuclear is burning coal, oil and the like, and we have more or less run out of improvements there.

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Re: Efficiency

@Lars - re "FUD about Fukushima"

Apologies, I did not express myself properly. I didn't mean that Fukushima was in any way safe (although the consequences WERE over-hyped), nor that TEPCO didn't have any responsibility.

What I meant is that in the aftermath of Fukushima, the FUD was being spread in Germany about the possibility of a Fukushima-style incident at one of the German reactors, while in reality this was a FAR more remote possibility* . Germany is extremely stable geologically, does not have coastline prone to flooding, big hydro plants in the vicinity where a dam can fail etc etc, so there was no real safety reason to close German nuclear plants down.

* (I'm not saying impossible since there is always a small margin, but as close to impossible as can be practical)

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" Infrasound is not heard, it is felt. Infrasound holds a terrible secret in its silent roar. Infrasound produces varied physiological sensations which begin as vague “irritations”. At certain pitch, infrasound produces physical pressure. At specific low intensity, fear and disorientation. Nazi propaganda engineers methodically used infrasound to stir up the hostilities of crowds who were gathered to hear their madman. The results are historical nightmares."

http://journal.borderlands.com/1996/the-sonic-weapon-of-vladimir-gavreau/

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Re: Efficiency

Thank you for the analysis and allow me to add one thing: You need a licence in order to operate a nuclear power station in Germany. Initially, that licence was granted for a certain number of years. Then, it was linked to the electricity output. Now, the federal government combined the output limitation with a deadline. It is the latter limitation that may be a problem as it was introduced when the former (output limitation) had not expired yet.

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Meh

Proof of the of the pudding...

If Professor Simon Chapman,had actually gone and lived next to a wind farm his conclusions would have more credibility.

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Re: Proof of the of the pudding...

> If Professor Simon Chapman,had actually gone and lived next to a wind farm his conclusions would have

> more credibility.

I think you may have missed the point of data analysis.

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Facepalm

Re: Proof of the of the pudding...

"If you like it so much why don't you go live there"

How old are you?

In relation to the good professor's other work, would you only trust a study on the link between smoking and lung cancer by scientists who were on 60 a day and riddled with emphysema?

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Anonymous Coward

"Strangely many older people in the village seem to develop cancer, though they are generally all older than 85+ when they die.

Would they have lived to 100 if there had been no power plant?"

So not only is new nuclear the answer to the looming power shortages, it will also help curb the ageing population and cut pension costs? win win I think.

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This has so gone on too long on so many levels.

Can't we just put Simon Chapman and Lewis Page in a pit of slime, and have them fight it out to the death. Winner gets to dictate energy policy.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: This has so gone on too long on so many levels.

I would prefer that both sides get to say their piece with their own perspective. Oddly enough everyone has their own perspective and to think there is only one and they all match is ignorant of the world around us.

I see plenty comments complaining about one view or another but how many are willing to accept we dont know? Everything was undiscovered by man at one point and the earth was definitely the centre of the universe at one point.

I am not suggesting every crackpot is equal but when looking to reasoned views it is unreasonable to suggest only one view should be voiced.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: This has so gone on too long on so many levels.

Interesting. I see downvotes so people obviously disagree with free speech but I dont see a single person state their reason. I guess its possible that people misunderstand freedom as supporting the view they dont agree with (This could be any view, back to individual perspectives).

So I invite the voters to explain.

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Re: This has so gone on too long on so many levels.

well i didnt downvote, but your point is bollocks :-)

Lewis asserts windfarms are crap, because they don't make enough electricity when we need it. (and he has a point)

Chapman is asserting that people who claim to be made ill by windfarms are full of shit. (and he has a point)

there is no fundamental conflict! - ergo testes

That said, the slime pit sounds good to me, but i am a smoker who believes in man made global warming, so make the slime good and toxic and let the battle commence is what i say :-)

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Re: This has so gone on too long on so many levels.

It's not about stopping people 'having their say', they always will. It's just opinion and it's fecking worthless.

Let them all whine. Then find someone vaguely sane, have them identify the actual problem and then you carry out a study to find out if there is a link. This gives you a correlation (and only that, just because all your spearmints are ranked isn't proof), so then you devise a test to isolate a mechanism and do a double blind study to see if there really is a valid mechanism. Then you KNOW what is going on and not just what someone thinks is going on or what statistics say might be going on.

Letting nutters froth at the mouth about whatever magical illness they caught off watching Jeremy Kyle isn't proof. A statistic proof just isn't outside of maths.

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Re: dont see a single person state their reason

because having recognized that you are beyond reason, for the most part, we see no need to waste further efforts. Key bit is here:

"everyone has their own perspective and to think there is only one and they all match"

I'll refer you to C.S. Lewis, That Hideous Strength and the crabby experimental scientist who gets whacked early in the book. His point was dead on, which is of course, why he got whacked.

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Anonymous Coward

Intelligence fail?

Mr Spock wants Page/Chapman to fight to the death and the winner can dictate energy policy. I suggest they should both express their opinions which attracted downvotes. Looking at those who actually claimed to have a reason I laugh-

Naughtyhorse: I didnt say they conflicted. But if my point is bollocks then why did you express their separate views? That suggests 2 perspectives even if they are not conflicting. So back to reading (and understanding) why should only one voice their opinions as spock suggests?

Rampant Spaniel: "Letting nutters froth at the mouth about whatever" I see plenty god bothering people of various religions wander the streets in the city centre with their boards up shouting. I also see the same for political parties. I guess you somehow stop these people in your area? Do you shout at them to shut up until they produce evidence? And surely your comment is also- "It's just opinion and it's fecking worthless.". So why downvote?

Tom 13: I am talking about accepting both Page/Chapman rights to express their views. And you think- "because having recognized that you are beyond reason". Yes. How dare I. I guess you live under some dictatorship somewhere and cherish the value of only being able to say something if it is acceptable to someone else (not the many, just the few, like Mr spock for example).

At least you guys expressed why you feel I deserved a downvote. But if you guys are the least shamed by your reasons (3 of the 7 to express them) the other voters reasons must be doosies.

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Re: Intelligence fail?

@AC I didn't downvote and no I don't stop them. It's their right to rant. What I don't do is accept their comments as gospel, if people are convinced a windfarm gives them the clap then good for them, but as for actually taking action, lets see an actual study first. One not paid for by the energy industry or the fashionably lesbian tractor owners of chelsea and their three legged dog society of the furtherment of being outraged about slightly unpopular things because they haven't had much to do since resigning from the oxfam bookshop.

Turn around what you said :-) When you see somebody wandering around town screaming the end of the world is coming on tuesday can I have 20p for the bus home, do you cash out your pension and blow it in hookers and nose candy or do you carry on. There may be something there with windfarms, there may not (I don't think so but I'm happy to see if there is, the ravers aren't ok with a study because they KNOW they are right!!), but we won't have an answer by asking people their opinion. Look at the LHC, science needs proof, opinion is just that. They built a huge expensive toy (and maybe blew it up) to prove a theory. They didn't go, oh well a few people agree so it must be right.

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