—Nina Pierpont, MD, PhD, CounterPunch Magazine (10/31/10)
Wind turbines majestically threshing the wind—what marvels of human engineering! To stand beneath one is breathtaking. To live near one can be hell on earth. So I have been told by countless people who suddenly find themselves grievously ill from the subtle yet devastating infrasonic jackhammer generated by these “clean, green, renewable energy” giants.
The explanation may be tucked away in the inner ear in a cluster of tiny, interconnected organs with a remarkable evolutionary pedigree. The vestibular organs—the semicircular canals, saccule, and utricle—function as Mother Nature’s gyroscope, controlling our sense of motion, position, and balance, including our spatial thinking. (Remember when you got carsick as a kid? Or seasick?)
Humans share these enigmatic organs with a host of other backboned species, including fish and amphibians. Some scientists indeed see them as a kind of pan-species master key for an extraordinarily broad range of brain function—amounting to a sixth sense.
One of those functions, it now appears, is to register and respond to the sounds and vibrations (infrasound) we don’t consciously hear, but feel—as from wind turbines. For many people, the response is swift and disastrous.
Sometimes it’s advantageous being a country doctor. Six years ago I began hearing health complaints from people living in the shadow of these gigantic turbines. At first it was merely local and regional, then global. Tellingly, virtually everyone described the same constellation of symptoms. Symptoms that were being triggered, I began to suspect, by vestibular dysregulation. (1) Sleep disturbance. Not simply awakened, but awakening in a panic (“flight or fight” response). (2) Headache. (3) Tinnitus. (4) Ear pressure. (5) Dizziness. (6) Vertigo. (7) Nausea. (8) Visual blurring. (9) Tachycardia. (10) Irritability. (11) Problems with concentration and memory. (12) Panic episodes associated with sensations of internal pulsation or quivering, which arise while awake or asleep. (This latter involving other, non-vestibular organs of balance, motion, and position sense.)
None of these people had experienced these symptoms to any appreciable degree before the turbines became operational. All said their symptoms disappeared rapidly whenever they spent several days away from home. All said the symptoms reappeared when they returned home.
Many had supported the wind farm project before all this happened. Now, some became so ill, they literally abandoned their homes—locked the door and left.
Taking my cue from a British country doctor who was reporting identical “wind turbine” symptoms among her patients, I did what clinicians call a case series. I interviewed 10 families (38 people) both here and abroad, who had either left their homes or were about to leave. I found a statistically significant correlation between the telltale symptoms and pre-existing motion sensitivity, inner ear damage, and migraine disorder. Each is a risk factor for what I now christened Wind Turbine Syndrome. My data suggest, further, that young children and adults beyond age 50 are also at substantial risk.
The response from ear, nose, throat clinicians (otolaryngologists and neuro-otologists) was immediate and encouraging. One was Dr. F. Owen Black, a highly regarded neuro-otologist who consults for the US Navy and NASA on vestibular dysregulation.
Another was Dr. Alec Salt at the Washington University School of Medicine, who recently published an NIH-funded, peer-reviewed study demonstrating that the cochlea (which links to the vestibular organs) responds to infrasound without registering it as sound. Infrasound, in fact, increases pressure inside both the cochlea and vestibular organs, distorting both balance and hearing.
Salt thus effectively shatters the dogma that “what you can’t hear, can’t hurt you.” It can indeed hurt you. The growing uproar among wind turbine neighbors testifies to this inconvenient truth.
My role is over. My waiting room is full. It’s time for governments to study this wind-generated scourge whose cure is simple. A 2 km setback (larger in hilly or mountainous terrain) fixes it. Wind developers, not unexpectedly, refuse to acknowledge the problem. They ridicule it as hysteria and NIMBYism (“Not In My Back Yard!”)—and refuse to build their machines 2 km (1.24 miles) away from homes.
“It’s difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it,” suggested Upton Sinclair. Perhaps so. In that case, expect more empty houses and (easily avoidable) suffering.
Nina Pierpont, MD, PhD, is a pediatrician and author of “Wind Turbine Syndrome: A Report on a Natural Experiment” (2009). She was the keynote speaker at the international symposium in Picton, Ontario, “The Global Wind Industry and Adverse Health Effects: Loss of Social Justice?” in the autumn of 2009.
Since publishing the book in late 2009, Pierpont has heard from people around the world who are discovering that Wind Turbine Syndrome is not confined to living in the shadow of industrial wind turbines. It turns out people suffer identical symptoms from living close to natural gas compressor stations, industrial sewage pumping stations, industrial air conditioners, and other power plants. In each case, low frequency noise and infrasound appear to be the chief disease-causing culprit—basically, Wind Turbine Syndrome without the turbines.
Dimensions: [9″ high x 6″ wide x 3/4″ thick] [22.8 cm high x 15.2 cm wide x 1.9 cm thick]
Weight: [1 lb, 1.2 oz] [17.2 oz] [488 gms]
Publication Date: 2009
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: By way of explaining why on earth I wrote this book
Chapter 2: The report, for clinicians
Chapter 3: The case histories: The raw data
Chapter 4: The report all over again, in plain English for non-clinicians
About the author
Read Sample Pages
Click here to read sample pages.
Click here for a PDF of the executive summary.
Click here to read the peer reviewers’ reports.
About the Author
Nina Pierpont, MD, PhD, earned the MD degree at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and PhD (Population Biology) from Princeton University. She is an honors graduate of Yale University.
She has been Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Columbia University’s College of Physicians & Surgeons, Senior Attending Physician in Pediatrics at Bassett Healthcare (Cooperstown, NY), Chief of Pediatrics at a Yup’ik (Eskimo) hospital on the Alaska tundra, and pediatrician to the St. Regis Mohawk Nation (NY State).
Currently, she is in private practice on the northern boundary of the Adirondack Park (NY State), specializing in behavioral pediatrics and adult psychiatry & psychotherapy.
She is licensed in the State of NY and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
What Readers Are Saying
This depends on whether readers live near wind turbines, in which case they find this book a life-saver. Their testimonials have been purged from the Internet by the multi-billion dollar wind energy business and its shills.
If you search the Internet for “Wind Turbine Syndrome,” you will find it uniformly trashed if not simply airbrushed out of the narrative.
In sum, Big Wind managed to bury Pierpont and her book.
“Impressive. Interesting. And important.”
Robert M. May, PhD, Professor Lord May of Oxford OM AC Kt FRS. President of the Royal Society (2000–05), Chief Scientific Advisor to the UK government (1995–2000). Lord May, now deceased, was at the forefront of global warming research and was considered a pioneer in epidemiological research.
“Dr. Pierpont has clinically defined a new group of human subjects who respond to low frequency, relatively high amplitude forces acting upon the sensory and other body systems. Her rigorous clinical observations are consistent with reports of the deleterious effects of infrasound on humans, including, but not limited to, the low frequency sonar effects on divers. There are clinical conditions (such as dehiscent superior semicircular canals) that might explain some of Dr. Pierpont’s clinical symptom review, but this relatively rare condition cannot explain all of her observations.
“Dr. Pierpont’s astute collection of observations should motivate a well-controlled, multi-site, multi-institutional prospective study.”
F. Owen Black, MD, FACS, Senior Scientist and Director of Neuro-Otology Research, Legacy Health System, Portland, Oregon. Dr. Black, now deceased, was widely considered to be one of the foremost balance, spatial orientation, and equilibrium clinical researchers in America.
“Like so many earlier medical pioneers exposing the weaknesses of current orthodoxy, Dr. Nina Pierpont has been subjected to much denigration and criticism. It is a tribute to her strength of character and conviction that this important book has reached publication. Her detailed recording of the harm caused by wind turbine noise will lay firm foundations for future research. It should be required reading for all planners considering ‘wind farms.’”
Christopher Hanning, MD, FRCA, MRCS, LRCP. Dr. Hanning, a founder of the British Sleep Society, was a leading sleep clinician and researcher. He retired as Director of the Sleep Clinic and Laboratory at Leicester General Hospital, one of the largest sleep disorder clinics in the UK.
“This is an extraordinary book. It is personal and passionate, which makes it compelling reading. But it is much more—authoritative, meticulous, and scholarly. The descriptions of anatomy, physiology, and the pathophysiology of how noise affects health are bang on. It clearly takes its place as the leading work on the topic.
“In addition to Dr. Pierpont’s detailed clinical accounts, there is accumulating evidence of adverse health effects from Japan, New Zealand, the UK, USA, and Canada. There are also some 357 organizations from 19 European countries demanding an enquiry by the European Union about health and many other adverse effects of wind farms. At a minimum, the EU would be wise to consult with Dr. Pierpont.
“This book is a must-read for all health care professionals, especially those in clinical practice. One cannot but hope that politicians and policy makers at all levels heed the wake-up call that there are serious consequences to precipitant decisions relating to so-called green energy.”
Robert Y. McMurtry, MD, FRCS (C), FACS. Former Dean of Medicine and Dentistry at the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, University of Western Ontario. Dr. McMurtry has had a long and distinguished career in Canadian public health policy at both the federal and provincial level, including as founding Assistant Deputy Minister of the Population and Public Health Branch of Health Canada, and currently as a member of the Health Council of Canada.
“Dr. Pierpont has written a superb and powerful book. Truly first-rate in its presentation of hard data, and with remarkable clarity.
“I devoutly hope that her findings, pinned as they are to unassailable research and rigorously peer-reviewed by ranking scientists, come to the attention of movers and shakers who can broaden the research base and shape the politics of dealing with Wind Turbine Syndrome.”
Jack G. Goellner, Director Emeritus, The Johns Hopkins University Press (America’s oldest university press, founded 1878). During Mr. Goellner’s tenure as director, JHUP became a world leader, celebrated for its medical publishing, among other fields.
“Dr. Pierpont has made an important contribution to a debate about wind turbines that should be conducted not between champions and opponents of renewable energy, but within the community of those who want this country to behave in an environmentally responsible way. That we can and should do.”
Editorial Board of The Independent (UK), August 2, 2009