If you traveled in Michigan, you've no doubt encountered one of the many wind turbines scattered across the state. Each time I pass one I marvel at its size but, I often wonder what it's like to live near one.

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USA Today asked its readers to share their experiences living near these massive structures, and the stories that were featured weren't overwhelmingly positive. Aside from the visual aesthetics, the biggest complaint about Michigan's wind turbines was the noise and 'feeling' generated by them.

Do Michigan's Power-Generating Wind Turbines Also Create Migraines and Anxiety?

In Mason County Michigan, Consumers Energy operates Lake Winds Energy Park, where 56 wind turbines have been operating since 2012. Each one stands at 476 feet tall and generates enough energy to power 1,500 Michigan homes.

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According to Energy.gov, the noise emitted by these towering energy harnessers is within the lowest level of urban background grounds, or around 40 decibels.

Wind turbines can create two kinds of sound: a mechanical hum produced by the generator and a “whooshing” sound produced by the blades moving through the air.

Do these noises have any adverse effects? According to two families who lived near turbines in the Lake Winds Energy Park, there are.

In a letter written to USA Today for a column entitled 'In the Shadow of Wind Farms', residents living near wind turbines wrote in to share their experiences. Cary and Karen Shineldecker claim that living near 5 turbines has caused anxiety, migraines, and even earaches they claim are due to the air pressure changes caused by the whirling blades. Cary Shineldecker explains,

It’s a sensation...You know how you can feel a helicopter before you hear it, or you can feel the bass from the kids’ car going down the road?

The Shineldeckers, having difficulty sleeping, retreated to their basement. Eventually, they sold their home for what they say was 70 percent of its appraised value and moved four miles away.

Life Near a Michigan Wind Turbine: ‘You can feel it in your body'

Studies have been conducted to determine if wind turbines can cause adverse health reactions, like migraines and anxiety. Analysis has found the symptoms are likely caused by the annoyance of the turbine's presence, rather than anything it's physically doing to the environment. However, one paper did plainly state that living too close to these green energy generators will have negative impacts on your health. The following is from the National Library of Medicine and a study entitled 'Adverse health effects of industrial wind turbines', conducted by Roy D. Jeffery, MD FCFP, a family physician in the Northeastern Manitoulin Family Health Team in Little Current, Ont.

Industrial wind turbines can harm human health if sited too close to residents. Harm can be avoided if IWTs are situated at an appropriate distance from humans. Owing to the lack of adequately protective siting guidelines, people exposed to IWTs can be expected to present to their family physicians in increasing numbers. The documented symptoms are usually stress disorder–type diseases acting via indirect pathways and can represent serious harm to human health.

Many families live under these towering structures and haven't experienced the side effects described by the Shineldeckers and others. Studies continue as wind turbines continue to be erected in Michigan and throughout the United States.

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Gallery Credit: Scott Clow

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