Warning over wind turbine syndrome

One of the most senior doctors in the Department of Health has warned the Department of the Environment that people at risk of the controversial wind turbine syndrome should be treated “appropriately and sensitively as these symptoms can be debilitating”.

Following a review of international research on the health effects of wind turbine noise, the Department of Health’s deputy chief medical officer concluded that wind turbines are not a threat to public health, but “there is a consistent cluster of symptoms related to wind turbine syndrome which occurs in a number of people in the vicinity of industrial wind turbines”.

A letter seen by the Irish Examiner reveals how, in her review sent to the Department of the Environment last November, she said “there are specific risk factors for this syndrome and people with these risk factors experience symptoms. These people must be treated appropriately and sensitively as these symptoms can be very debilitating”.

Experts differ on whether “wind turbine syndrome” really exists or whether it is a psychological response to unhappiness caused by not wanting to live near a windfarm.

Following the deputy CMO’s review, the Department of Health’s Food and Environmental Health Unit wrote to the Department of the Environment suggesting that they consider hiring experts to further examine the health effects of wind turbine syndrome .

However, the Department of the Environment is now dismissing the deputy CMO’s literature review as only “a preliminary literature review and not a recommendation of the Department of Health”.

The Department of Environment is currently conducting a review of the 2006 Wind Energy Development Guidelines.

Meanwhile, the Department of Health has said the deputy CMO’s comments “did not constitute expert advice” but were “a general overview of the literature in this area”.

The department confirmed that a “range of symptoms have been described by people living close to wind turbines mainly related to general environmental noise exposure”.

“These symptoms include headache, irritability, difficulty concentrating, fatigue, dizziness, anxiety and sleep disturbance, and are often described in relation to annoyance,” a spokesman said.

“Anyone who experiences such symptoms should seek medical advice from their family doctor, who may be able to prescribe suitable medication”.

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