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How Do You Catch Wind Turbine Syndrome?

Posted: 30/11/2017

The growth of the wind energy sector in the UK means that there are to be plenty more turbines springing up, with more people surely taking a GWO working at heights course. The historic narrative of wind turbines has been with nearby residents complaining about noise pollution and environmental interference, as well as aesthetic concerns, however, a new book has just been unveiled, according to the Guardian, which aims to look if there is such a thing as wind turbine syndrome.

If you were to imagine what wind turbine syndrome may be, you might think it's something that a turbine afflicts on someone living nearby, but in actual fact, according to authors Simon Chapman and Fiona Crichton, it's evidence which suggests that adverse reactions to wind farms are actually a psychogenic illness, and one that spreads through exposure to negative publicity.

The book, Wind Turbine Syndrome: A Communicated Disease, looks at cases of objections to wind farms and compares it to historic public anxieties which existed around the introduction of many new technologies – microwave ovens, mobile phones, televisions, Wifi and even electricity have all been subject to evidence-free worries over the effects they have on humans and nature.

In his introduction to the idea, Simon Chapman writes in the Guardian that he has counted 247 different diseases and ailments to humans and animals attributed by opponents of wind turbines to the technology. “The nocebo effect, the evil twin sibling of the healing placebo effect... [sees] expectancy effects just as powerful as placebo effects operate to make people feel sick with worry or anxiety.”

He also notes that through 25 scientific reviews since 2003, there has been very poor evidence to support any claim that wind turbines cause any disease, though both lung and brain cancer have been claimed by detractors, and rather points to the fact, in his opinion, that wind turbine syndrome is something you can catch just by hearing about it.

While wind turbine syndrome may not be proven itself, Mr Chapman raises some interesting points about objections in his native Australia. First up, that few wind farms have residents who claim to be affected by these symptoms. If these were causally linked, we'd expect to see the effects on all wind farms.

Likewise, only wind farms that are actively under protest tend to attract complaints linked to illnesses. In Australia, 74 per cent of complaints are linked to just six wind farms. And the majority of complaints about wind farms causing illness on the whole come from English speaking countries.

A previous study, also reported by The Guardian, found that those people who believe they have an illness caused by nearby wind farms often do not go to the doctors with their symptoms after making a self-diagnosis that it is caused by the technology.

Symptoms such as sleep disturbance, headaches, earaches, tinnitus, tachycardia, high blood pressure, sight impairment, diabetes, chest-tightening, nausea and general fatigue can all be caused by anxiety, caused by an inaccurate assumption that a wind farm is making you ill.