Ecology And Environment
The Brazos Wind Farm, also known as the Green Mountain Energy Wind Farm, near Fluvanna, Texas.

Scientists Wind Farms Damage Mental Health

The Brazos Wind Farm, also known as the Green Mountain Energy Wind Farm, near Fluvanna, Texas.
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"Scientists Wind Farms Damage Mental Health"
Caption: The Brazos Wind Farm, also known as the Green Mountain Energy Wind Farm, near Fluvanna, Texas.
Image by: Leaflet
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Going green? Although it's argued that green technology can save the planet, it may harm human health, at least where wind farms are concerned.

The burgeoning growth of wind farms across the U.S. and Europe has a negative impact on the health of people claim of a group of scientists that studied how wind farms affect those living in close proximity to the high-tech windmills.

Adverse health effects on people from the emerging technology were suspected for some time. Now the first formal, peer-reviewed study confirms the suspicions. The research reveals the noise generated by wind farms result in “clear and significant” harm to human sleep patterns and overall mental health.

The study undertaken by American and British scientists in Maine encompassed two test groups. The first group resided within a perimeter of a mile from a wind farm location. The second group lived significantly outside that zone.

Fitful sleep

The first group suffered from bouts of interrupted sleep and increasing stress, especially during times when the velocity of the wind increased and the turbine blades of the windmills accelerated. The data supports the anecdotal evidence culled from reports of chronic complaints by people living near wind farms that the whining and droning noise from the gigantic whirling blades were emotionally distressful and cause lack of sleep, short tempers, and a rise in general irritability.

The study was careful to select participants that had similarities in both social and demographic profiles.

According to the research paper, two standard scientific scales were employed to measure the data: the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI)—a research template that scores sleep quality—and the Epworth Sleepiness Scale (ESS), a standard measurement that scores the overall sleepiness a person experiences during periods of wakefulness.

“Participants living near industrial wind turbines had worse sleep, as evidenced by significantly greater mean PSQI and ESS scores,” researchers, Michael Nissenbaum, Jeffery Aramini and Chris Hanning told The Telegraph. “There were clear and significant dose-response relationships, with the effect diminishing with increasing log-distance from turbines.”

Mental health affected too

The second part of the study tied proximity to wind farms with overall mental health. Disturbingly, the scientists discovered a strong connection. The mental health scores revealed a "significant" link between participants' quality of mental health and wind turbines.

The researchers also found that more than 25 percent of the group living within a mile of the wind turbines reported being diagnosed by physicians with symptoms of "depression or anxiety since the wind farm started. None of the participants in the group farther away reported such problems," reports The Telegraph.

The full study, "Effects of industrial wind turbine noise on sleep and health," was published in the journal Noise and Health and is available here.

More about this author: Terrence Aym

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