Four Myths about Wind Power

By Maxime Bilodeau – The Rumor Detector

Agence Science-Presse (

Wind power is often accused of lots of flaws, usually incorrectly. Here are four myths:

  1. It’s bad for your health…?

Wherever there are wind turbines, we often find nearby residents who claim that they suffer from symptoms such as dizziness, headaches and sleeplessness. Some even cite the development of cancers, and the triggering of epileptic fits.

The causes, they claim, are the low frequency sounds (infrasound) and the magnetic fields generated by wind turbines. Over the long term, this exposure directly affects their wellness, we are told.

But these claims don’t hold water when held up to examination. Health Canada is one of several agencies, along with public health authorities in Quebec, Ontario and France’s National Academy of Medicine, that have all come to the same conclusion over the course of many years: Nothing in the scientific literature shows a cause-and-effect relationship between these maladies and wind turbines.

The various negative effects on health that being close to wind turbines are supposed to cause have, for 20 years, been grouped under the umbrella heading “wind turbine syndrome.” It’s more of an associative problem. The more a person associates wind turbines with negative health effects, the more that person will be liable to attribute all their mental and physical problems to wind turbines.

In a modest 2015 study, two researchers cited the “nocebo” effect. That’s when a patient says they’re experiencing side effects from a medication they’re not taking. In 2013, Australian researchers noted an absence of any correlation between symptoms and a number of people living near turbines. One of the researchers also observed that the number of people experiencing certain symptoms exploded when the subject hit the media.

  • They’re noisy…?

The more the wind blows, the more the blades of a turbine move, producing both electricity and noise. A wind farm, a collection of turbines, sometimes gets its neighbors upset because of the noise they generate.

Determining just what constitutes nuisance noise depends very much on each person’s level of tolerance. The noise produced by a 1.5 megawatt turbine is between 33 and 40 decibels at a distance of about 500 metres – the closest to a turbine that anyone is allowed to live. This is comparable to the noise generated by a library or a waiting room. At its source, if we were able to hold on at a point between the blades and measure the sound, it varies from 98 to 105 decibels.

That being said, a whole host of factors influences the noise level perceived by the human ear. They include not just the distance away, but also the landscape, the presence or absence of vegetation, and weather conditions.

  • Wind farms devalue house prices…?

The origin of this myth is a certain Donald Trump, who declared before his supporters in 2019: “If you have a windmill anywhere near your house, congratulations, your house just went down 75% in value.” Trump didn’t specify where this percentage came from.

Studies carried out on this subject in the U.S. and abroad paint a much more nuanced picture. They conclude that any fear of falling property values linked to the presence of wind turbines is largely unfounded. The effect, if it exists at all, is minimal, and is difficult to distinguish from a host of other factors affecting house prices.  

  • They have a heavy carbon footprint…?

The construction of a wind turbine requires considerable civil engineering work, including building with energy-sapping materials. In 2009, an Australian researcher calculated the carbon footprint of building and maintaining a small turbine until the end of its lifespan as the equivalent of 1,800 tonnes of CO2.   

Once it’s working, a turbine will produce electricity from wind power, a renewable resource. The result, say two British researchers, is that it will take anywhere from 12 to 18 months – in a turbine’s average lifespan of 20 years – for it to repay its carbon footprint “debt.”

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