Stress and Wind Turbines

  “Even seemingly clean sources of energy can have implications on human health. Wind energy will undoubtedly create noise, which increases stress, which in turn increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer.” [1]


In an American Wind Energy Association and Canadian Wind Energy Association sponsored report it is acknowledged that wind turbine noise may cause annoyance, stress and sleep disturbance.[2]


One of the authors of the report Dr David Colby, M.D. reinforced this position regarding wind turbines by stating


“We’re not denying that there are people annoyed and that maybe some of them are getting stressed out enough about being annoyed that they’re getting sick.”[3]


The Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care concur in that they acknowledge wind turbines may cause annoyance, stress and sleep disturbance. [4],[5]


Make no mistake stress is a serious risk to human health.


Health Canada states that


 “…stress is considered to be a risk factor in a great many diseases, including: heart disease, some types of bowel disease, herpes, mental illness.


Stress also makes it hard for people with diabetes to control their blood sugar.


Stress is also a risk factor in alcohol and substance abuse, as well as weight loss and gain. Stress has even been identified as a possible risk factor in Alzheimer’s Disease.


Severe stress can cause biochemical changes in the body, affecting the immune system, leaving your body vulnerable to disease.”[6]


Other health effects associated with stress include becoming increasingly distressed, and irritable, unable to relax or concentrate, have difficulty thinking logically, and making decisions, depression, anxiety, sleep disorders, disorders of the digestive system, increases in blood pressure, headaches and musculo-skeletal disorders.[7],[8]


Prevention includes the ability to remove the stressor. In the case of stress from wind turbine noise and visual impacts (shadow flicker) there is little one can do. The affected individual usually has no control over the level of or the timing of these intrusions.


[1] The National Institutes of Health (NIH), Environmental Health Perspectives, volume 116, pg A237 – 238, 2008

[2] W. David Colby, M.D. et al.,Wind Turbine Sound and Health Effects, An Expert Panel Review 2009, Prepared for American Wind Energy Association and Canadian Wind Energy Association

[3] W. David Colby, M.D. , Sounding Board, 97.9 FM The Beach December 17, 2009

[4] Copes, R. and K. Rideout. Wind Turbines and Health: A Review of Evidence. Ontario

Agency for Health Protection and Promotion 2009

[5] Arlene King, M.D., Chief Medical Officer of Health of Ontario Memorandum, October 21, 2009

[7] ibid

[8] Work Organization & Stress, Stavroula Leka BA MSc PhD et al.,World Health Organization,