New research supports Wind Turbine Syndrome (Canada)

Oct 23, 2013



“Wind Turbine Noise, Sleep Quality, and Symptoms of Inner Ear Problems” (10/17/13)

—poster presentation by Claire Paller, Phil Bigelow, Shannon Majowicz, Jane Law, and Tanya Christidis (School of Public Health & Health Systems, University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada)

Editor’s note:  The following text was provided by Carmen Krogh, a Canadian researcher into the health problems caused by wind turbines.  

Click here for a high quality PDF of the poster presentation by Paller et al.  (With thanks to Ms. Paller for furnishing us with the poster.)

At a recent symposium in Toronto facilitated by former Toronto Mayor David Miller titled Symposia of the Ontario Research Chairs in Public Policy, a poster entitled ‘Wind Turbine Noise, Sleep Quality, and Symptoms of Inner Ear Problems’ was displayed by Claire Paller, Phil Bigelow, Shannon Majowicz, Jane Law, and Tanya Christidis.

The research indicates statistically significant results for sleep, vertigo and tinnitus (excerpt):

“All relationships were found to be positive and statistically significant.”

The University of Waterloo-Ontario Ministry of Environment funded industrial wind turbine (IWT) health study was publicly displayed during the symposium on sustainability held at York University, Toronto on October 17, 2013.

It is reported that 396 surveys were included in the analysis (excerpts include):

“In total there were 412 surveys returned; 16 of these survey respondents did not provide their home address. Therefore, 396 surveys were included in the analysis.”

Of note is the acknowledgement that as the distance from the IWT increases, sleep improves:

“The relationship between ln(distance) (as a continuous variable) and mean Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) was found to be statistically significant (P=0.0096) when controlling for age, gender and county. This relationship shows that as the distance increases (move further away from a wind turbine), PSQI decreases (i.e. sleep improves) in a logarithmic relationship. Multivariate analysis involved assessing distance to the nearest wind turbine as both distance and ln(distance). In all cases, ln(distance) resulted in improved model fit.”

In addition the authors state that the relationship between vertigo and tinnitus worsened for those living closer to IWTs:

“The relationship between vertigo and ln(distance) was statistically significant (P<0.001) when controlling for age, gender, and county. The relationship between tinnitus and ln(distance) approached statistical significance (P=0.0755). Both vertigo and tinnitus were worse among participants living closer to wind turbines.”

The conclusion states:

“In conclusion, relationships were found between ln(distance) and PSQI, ln(distance) and self-reported vertigo and ln(distance) and self-reported tinnitus. Study findings suggest that future research should focus on the effects of wind turbine noise on sleep disturbance and symptoms of inner ear problems.”

Counties and projects in the study include:

* Bruce (Enbridge project)

* Chatham-Kent (Raleigh)

* Dufferin (Melancthon)

* Elgin (Erie Shores)

* Essex (Comber)

* Frontenac (Wolfe Island)

* Huron (Kingsbridge)

* Norfolk (Frogmore/Cultus/ClearCreek)

Based on this evidence, it is not clear what the next steps will be for the Ministry of Environment. However, based on these results, evidence gathered by other researchers in Ontario and elsewhere supports these statistically significant findings.


  1. Comment by mtumba on 10/23/2013 at 3:22 pm

    Did the report state at what distance sleep disturbance ceased?

    What is a safe distance from which to locate industrial scale wind turbines from residences? One mile? Five miles? How does this distance change in relation to topography? Further for valleys located where turbines are placed on ridge tops – or further for flat terrain? Does any research exist on this topic of siting?

  2. Comment by Alec Salt, PhD, Professor of Otolaryngology, Washington Univ. School of Medicine on 10/23/2013 at 4:20 pm

    It looks like the sleep index correlation with distance is still declining between 4000 and 5000 meters (i.e. effects still present out to about 3 miles).

    How much sleep do you need?

  3. Comment by Jackie on 10/24/2013 at 2:35 am

    There will be no “constant” distance, since the Industrial Wind Turbines continue to increase in size the distance may vary considerably. Unfortunately the only way to know the distance required is to build them and wait for people to complain or do a door-to-door survey.

    On a side note, at our open house one of the “professionals” in the noise section claimed that the 2.3 MW Siemens was quieter than other local turbines. Hmm, 106 dBA as compared to 109 dBA. (I am not sure, but is 3 equal to a pin drop? If so, how can you compare the ratio of a 500-foot-tall IWT and the sound difference of a “pin drop”? Do they think we are stupid?)

  4. Comment by Ella on 10/24/2013 at 10:43 am

    At 7 miles away, they still bother me.

    Pretty soon the north winds will blow and I will be bothered by the symptoms. Soon there will be many more turbines (about 200 that will be pointed my way) that are over 400 feet tall spreading their toxic waves toward me.

    Should I just lie down and die now, or should I wait until I’m really sick?

    I noticed this past week, I have vertigo when I awake, since these things are running during the night. At first I thought it was a chance happening. I’ve been very careful to not subscribe my mind to the Nocebo affect.

    It’s not working. Nausea and ringing ears, now vertigo too.

  5. Comment by Nat on 11/28/2013 at 10:19 am

    Two observations

    Ontario has a 550m setback (one of the smallest I’ve heard of), yet these results are plotted down to ~150m. What’s up with that? I guess some older turbines were put up before the setback was established?

    They sent out 4876 surveys, and used 396. Only an 8% response rate. That doesn’t make for very robust conclusions. A test for participant bias would be evaluating response rate as a function of distance from IWTs.

  6. Comment by Marco Bernardi on 01/31/2014 at 8:31 am

    After 19 sleepless years beside wind turbines we can confirm these findings. In April 2013 the three nearest turbines (320m-450m) were dismanteled. Our sleeping periods are now varying from windspeed and wind direction. The same with our heartbeat disorder, the angina pectoris-like pressure in the chest and the volatile heartbeat and blood pressure.

    The nearest wind turbines are now 2.4 km (1.5 mls) away. We are surrounded by +/- 130 (viewable) turbines within an radius of 15 km (9.3 mls).

    Our tinnitus is still constant. Jutta, my wife, has 3 different tones. I have 4. From a deep humming like a foghorn of a ship up to a nerve-wracking clang like the background tone of an old televison set.

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