Special Report: An Ill Wind

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Imagine not being able to sleep because pulsating vibrations ripped through your home every night. For many local families, it’s all too real.

“What do I see? I see 400 foot vicious dogs tied up in my backyard.”

Wind Farms

It was designed to be an alternative to power plants that produces green house gases and carbon emissions.
No one denies that wind energy does that …. the question is.. what else comes from it.
The Shirley Wind Farm in Brown County is a hotbed of debate, with many residents nearby saying the turbines are seriously affecting their lives.
Duke Energy launched a research project looking for what – if any – impact comes from the giant turbines…
And found the turbines do emit low level sound – but that report –

“found low frequency noise levels to be within acceptable limits .”

But not everyone agrees… Including some on the brown county board of health…

One family was so affected by the turbines, they had to abandon their home. They still return when they need something, but they make payments on a desolate house.

The director of the Brown County board of Health initially stated wind turbines were hazardous to people’s health…  but then quickly recanted.

“i need the medical doctors to come up and be willing to attest to that.” “i understand that you are experiencing this but that doesn’t say that it’s scientific evidence,” says Chua Xiong.

But people living near wind farms say otherwise. And the problem isn’t just in Brown County.

“it’s a constant stress — and you feel it, and you hear it.” “there’s certain people that are very sensitive to it, doesn’t bother my husband at all, as you can see it drives me nuts,” said Joan Lagerman, who lives among the 88 turbines in Fond Du Lac county. “When you leave and get away from it, you don’t have the pressures, you don’t have the headaches, you don’t have the ringing of the ears, those kinds of things, you cant sleep at night.”

National Studies

In a study performed in Pennsylvania by Dr. Oguz A. Soysal, Professor and Chairman of the Dept. of Physics and Engineering at Frostburg State University in Maryland, sound levels were measured half a mile away from Meyersdale’s 20 turbine farm.

in the report, normal audible levels were found in the 50-60 dB range, while low frequency levels were found around 65-70 range. In that report, they say 65-70 dB is the loudness of a washing machine, vacuum cleaner, or hair dryer. 

So many of those people felt like a vacuum cleaner was running throughout their house, which isn’t pleasant at night.

“The noise is louder at night because of the contrast between the still, cool air at ground level and the steady stream of wind at the level of the turbine hubs. This nighttime noise travels a long distance. It has been documented to be disturbing to residents 1.2 miles away from wind turbines in regular rolling terrain, and 1.5 miles away in Appalachian valleys,” the study says.

The World Health Organization recommends, the level of continuous noise outside a dwelling should be 45 dB or less, and inside, 30 dB or less. 

Four states have done studies on if wind turbines can create adverse health effects.

Massachusetts independent study found that many of the complaints people made were more annoyance rather than serious health issues. The annoyance was found the be a combination of the sound itself, the sight of the turbine and attitude toward the wind project itself.

Oregon found that a small number of people complained of sleep disorders, stress, and low cognitive performance was found when sound levels exceeded 35-40 dBa.

Vermont’s Department of Health found that there was no direct health effect from sound of wind turbines. They did find that sleep disturbance was common at night, and recommended a night time noise limit consistent with the recommendations of the World Health Organization.

All of these studies found insufficient evidence that wind turbines can directly affect health and that much of it was related to the subjective nature of how people in those communities responded to, perceive, and cope with the sound.

Oregon in particular said that the wind turbines were much healthier for population areas since they did not have the pollution of greenhouse gases from fossil fuels.

The problem stems far beyond Wisconsin, and many across the country claim the vibrations impact their lives so much, they cannot live in their homes.

What Do They Do Now?

Residents say they simply just want to relief.

“Just let us sleep, give us 12 hours would be great, but give me 8 hours to sleep,” said Elizabeth Ebertz, who was forced to sleep in the basement away from her husband.

The Brown County Board of Health says it will do everything it can to protect its citizens and get those wind turbines turned off, but only if medical research shows the illnesses are linked to the wind turbines.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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