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Bad hair day? Wind turbines may be to blame

Steve Rennie — The Canadian Press — February 15, 2013

OTTAWA – Having a bad hair day? Wind turbines could be to blame.

The amount of the stress hormone cortisol found in people’s hair could help scientists understand the potential health impacts that may arise from exposure to low-frequency noise and vibrations from wind turbines.

Starting in May, the federal government plans to study the hair of up to 1,200 people who live near wind turbines. The results could tell scientists if wind turbines are linked to health problems, such as chronic stress.

“The objective of the contract is to analyse hair cortisol concentrations from hair samples collected during the community noise and health study,” says a contract notice posted Friday.

“The hair cortisol concentrations will be added to the data file for this survey and analysed in relationship to other measures of health and respondent demographics.

“Specifically, the hair cortisol results will be used to assess if there is a relationship between levels of systemic stress and distance from wind turbines.”

The adrenal glands produce the hormone cortisol. Stress — either psychological or physical — causes cortisol levels to spike. In small doses, that’s not so bad. A brief jolt of cortisol sends a quick burst of energy through the body, heightens memory and numbs sensitivity to pain.

Prolonged exposure to high levels of cortisol, however, can lead to health problems.

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