Do Wind Turbines Make You Sick?

Casey Jarmes
The News-Review

KEOKUK COUNTY – Iowa leads the nation in wind production, having the highest percentage of electricity from wind power (63.44% in 2024) and the second highest total wind capacity, beat out by only Texas. Recently, multiple local farmers have agreed to lease more than 15,000 acres of farmland to Apex Clean Energy, a Virginia-based energy company, to build wind turbines in the southern part of the county. Although some landowners have been overjoyed by the coming wind farm, others have reacted with horror. One of the more interesting reasons given to oppose wind turbines, cited by five different people at the supervisor candidate debate on May 29, is the claim that wind turbines make people sick. The News-Review decided to investigate this claim and see if the people of this county are in danger.

Anti-wind energy activists claim that wind farms create “Wind Turbine Syndrome,” an illness originating from the low-frequency sound created by wind turbines. Over the years, congenital abnormality, cancer, vertigo, nausea, autism, ADHD, death, tinnitus, stress, fatigue, memory loss, attention deficit, migraines and sleep deprivation have been claimed as side effects of Wind Turbine Syndrome. However, there is little evidence of Wind Turbine Syndrome existing. The condition is not recognized by any international disease classification system and is generally believed to be a pseudoscience.

“Summary of main conclusions reached in 25 reviews of the research literature on wind farms and health,” a meta analysis paper written by Simon Chapman and Teresa Simonetti and published by the Sydney University Medical School, looked at over 25 different studies into Wind Turbine Syndrome. Every single study came to the same conclusion: there is no evidence linking wind turbines to health problems. The paper did note that several studies noted participants felt annoyance towards nearby wind farms, but of course, annoyance is not a health problem. Similar conclusions were reached by “Health effects and wind turbines: A review of the literature” by Loren D. Knopper and Christopher A. Ollson, a meta analysis published in the National Library of Medicine, and “Wind Turbines and Health: A Critical Review of the Scientific Literature” by Robert J McCunney, Kenneth A. Mundt, W. David Colby, Robert Dobie, Kenneth Kaliski and Mark Blais, a meta analysis published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

To be clear, wind turbines do create sound. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a typical wind turbine will create 35-45 decibels of sound at a range of 300 meters. However, the Department of Energy also notes that a typical refrigerator creates 50 decibels. According to the California Public Utilities Commission, the ambient sound in the average small town is around 50-60 decibels.

Still, there are countless people who have reported physiological symptoms after wind farms have been built. Their experiences should not be discounted. But, there may be another cause for their symptoms. “The Link between Health Complaints and Wind Turbines: Support for the Nocebo Expectations Hypothesis” by Fiona Crichton, Simon Chapman, Tim Cundy and Keith J. Petrie1, a study published in the National Library of Medicine, observed that cases of Wind Turbine Syndrome do not actually correlate with the presence of wind turbines, but rather correlate with media coverage and word of mouth about Wind Turbine Syndrome. The study’s authors posit that Wind Turbine Syndrome is actually caused by the nocebo effect, the negative counterpart to the placebo effect. When the brain believes, incorrectly, that something will cause negative side effects, people will often experience those side effects, even if there is no physical interaction making them ill. It is possible that people warning their neighbors that wind turbines will make them ill are more responsible for people feeling fatigued or restless than the actual wind turbines.

While the evidence of wind farms causing illness are dubious at best, the evidence that another common form of electricity makes people sick is ironclad. Decades of studies have consistently linked coal power plants to asthma, heart disease, low birth weight and cancer. According to “A global perspective on coal-fired power plants and burden of lung cancer” by Cheng-Kuan Lin, Ro-Ting Lin, Tom Chen, Corwin Zigler, Yaguang Wei and David C. Christiani, published in the journal Environmental Health, for each kilowatt increase in coal capacity per person in a country, the rate of lung cancer increases 59% among men and 85% among women. According to “Mortality risk from United States coal electricity generation” by Lucas Henneman, Christine Choirat, Irene Dedoussi, Francesca Dominici, Jessica Roberts and Corwin Zigler, a 2023 paper published in Nature, a staggering 460,000 deaths between 1999 and 2020 were attributable to coal. And, of course, coal pollution is one of the chief contributors to climate change. According to “Quantifying Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Human Deaths to Guide Energy Policy” by  Joshua M. Pearce and  Richard Parncutt, published in the scientific journal Energies, global warming of more than two degrees celsius this century would kill an estimated one billion human beings. There are no studies predicting one billion people being killed by wind turbines.



The News-Review

120 East Washington
Sigourney, Iowa 52591
Phone: 641-622-3110

601 G. Avenue/PO Box 245
Grundy Center, IA 50638
Telephone: 1-319-824-6958
Fax: 1-319-824-6288

Mid-America Publishing

This newspaper is part of the Mid-America Publishing Family. Please visit for more information.