The Delaware County board of supervisors recently approved a site change related to more industrial wind turbines being built in Delaware County. Current plans are for just three to four in Bremen Township, but wind turbine salesmen are prospecting other landowners. Generally, when developers construct turbines they need 15-20 to offset infrastructure costs such as transmission lines and power substations. 

The research related to how these turbines harm human health is concerning, as our current county ordinance fails to meet World Health Organization’s minimum standards for safe operations. The primary health issues relate to the pressure given off by the massive blades. The economic environment of the wind industry and the industry’s impact on the local ecosystem are other problems these turbines present. 

Our greatest concern is health-related problems raised by the persistent, 24-seven, 365-day-a-year noise and its impacts on our families. Children, autistic children and the deaf are especially susceptible to inner ear vibration pressures. The turbines are massive—each blade weighs 14,000 pounds, and the tips reach a speed of 180 mph. When this much weight cuts through the air, it creates pressure and vibration called infrasound. 

If you ever sat in traffic and had someone pull up next to you playing their stereo with heavy bass, and you feel it vibrating through your car and body, this is how infrasound feels.  Now imagine feeling heavy bass at all hours, in your house, your bedroom as you try to sleep, while eating dinner with your family, etc. Those who are especially sensitive can feel infrasound from up to six miles away, but studies show most people are affected within 1.25 miles of an industrial turbine. 

In Wisconsin, there are reports of the relocation of deaf children because of their unique sensitivity. In the fall of 2014, the Brown County, Wis., board of health unanimously voted to declare industrial wind turbines a human health hazard after spending years studying infrasound’s effect on their community population. Exposure to intense infrasound affects the inner ear and results in sleep deprivation. People also report problems with migraine headaches, dizziness, nausea and the host of issues related to sleep deprivation (lack of concentration, higher stress levels, being accident-prone, inability to concentrate). Children with dysfunctional sleep patterns perform worse in school. A Massachusetts judge ordered wind turbines in one town to be shut down each day from 7 p.m.-7 a.m., all day on Sundays and most holidays because of the health impact on nearby residents.  

The World Health Organization (WHO) has concluded that observable effects of nighttime, outdoor noise levels of 40 A-weighted decibels (dBAs) or higher will lead to diminished health. The current county ordinance allows industrial turbines to produce 55 dBAs of noise. The current ordinance does not require any indoor measurements. Leading acoustic experts recommend industrial turbine setback distances of 1.25 miles (6,600 feet) from neighboring residences to minimize infrasound exposure. The current Delaware County ordinance requires a setback of 1,000 feet from the nearest occupied residence. 

We request a moratorium on all wind projects until public hearings take place so the public better understands how they will impact community health, the economic risks to taxpayers and the effect on Delaware County birds and bats.