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Wind power accounts for about 1 percent of the electricity produced in the United States [source: Gillam]. Nearly 25,000 wind turbines crank out power throughout the country. These massive windmills -- up to 80 feet (24 meters) tall -- capture the energy in wind and convert it into free-flowing electrons that people can use to run dishwashers, air conditioning and lights.
That 1 percent may not sound like much until you realize that wind power is just catching on in the United States. Huge new wind farms accounting for thousands more megawatts of capacity are in development as we speak, and estimates put 20 percent of the nation's electricity coming from wind power by 2030 [source: The Oregonian]. The European Union hopes to reach that percentage even sooner -- by 2020.
Until recently, there were three main issues regarding the possible downsides of wind power: bird and bat deaths, cost, and disrupting the appearance of natural landscapes. But a new objection to wind power has popped up in the past few years, resting on the research of a few scientists. The latest argument states that wind power endangers the health of people who live near windmills. Some people call this theory "wind-turbine syndrome." Although the extent of the phenomenon is unknown, there does seem to be something to it.
Those concerned about wind-power syndrome are interested in finding out if and how wind power could be making people sick. Is everyone living near windmills facing health problems? Let's take a look at the possible health risks associated with wind farms and find out whether we should be worried about the steady increase in wind-generated power throughout the world.