We exist to improve the lives
of everyone affected by epilepsy

Wind turbines

Background

Epilepsy Action carried out a survey in late 2007 to find out whether wind turbines had triggered seizures in people with epilepsy.

A number of people with epilepsy had reported to Professor Graham Harding, a leading expert in the field of photosensitive epilepsy, that they had been affected when looking at wind turbines. These reports ranged from feeling uncomfortable and unwell to concerns over the installation of wind turbines on people known to have photosensitive epilepsy.

Epilepsy Action, in conjunction with Professor Harding, decided to seek further information about whether there may be an issue for people with epilepsy.

Survey

Epilepsy Action, in partnership with Professor Harding, designed an online survey which asked people various questions about whether they had been affected by wind turbines.

The survey was available on Epilepsy Action’s website home page for one month when over 115,000 people visited the website. It was also advertised through Epilepsy Action’s newsletters and online community.

Results

Twenty six people responded to the survey and only one of them reported that they had had a seizure whilst looking at a wind turbine. However as this person also told us that they did not have photosensitive epilepsy it is difficult to conclude whether or not the seizure was actually caused by the wind turbine.

A typical Epilepsy Action survey on our home page for this period would probably receive several hundred responses.

Our helpline staff usually handle around 14,000 enquires a year. It is very rare that we receive a call from a person who believes a seizure was linked to the movement of a wind turbine (We have a record of only one call since 2008).

Theory

A paper has recently been published in Epilepsia, a leading epilepsy peer reviewed journal, looking at the theoretical risks of wind turbines [1].

Position

Epilepsy Action does not challenge the theory that wind turbines may create circumstances where photosensitive seizures can be triggered. However from our experience and that of our members and website users it does appear that this risk is minimal.

[1] Graham Harding, Pamela Harding, Arnold Wilkins (2008)
Wind turbines, flicker, and photosensitive epilepsy: Characterizing the flashing that may precipitate seizures and optimizing guidelines to prevent them
doi:10.1111/j.1528-1167.2008.01563.x

Last reviewed June 2011

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