Leading Edge Erosion and Pollution from Commercial Wind Turbine Blades: Potential for BPA Released into the Environment

February 21, 2023

Leading edge erosion is well a known and problematic issue with commercial wind turbine blades.  Erosion is the reason that turbine blades need to be replaced considerably more often that the industry’s proclaimed life of 20 years.  Erosion is caused by dust, rain, snow, hail, bird/bat/insect strikes and wind friction.  Modern turbines can reach speeds of over 200 miles per hour, when measured at the blade tip.  Even seemingly minor impacts can result in damage. 

What is not well known, is the chemicals shed, as microplastics, by this process.  The blades are manufactured from fiberglass and coated with a polyester resin.  The glass fibers are held together by epoxy resin.   The resin is composed of 33% Bisphenol A, better known as BPA.  Erosion rates were found to be approximately 137 pounds per year, per turbine.  33% of that eroded material is BPA, resulting in 45 pounds of PBAs released, into the environment, per turbine, per year.  Multiply that number by 160 turbines and you get 7,200 pounds of BPAs released per year.  Extrapolate that by the expected life of a Wind Farm, of 30 years, and you get 216,000 pounds of BPAs released into the environment.  Turbines can create a vortex that extends for several miles scattering contaminates across the ground, ponds, lakes, streams, rivers, and are taken up by crops planted as food sources.  Douglas County does not test for BPAs in your drinking water. Nor do they currently have the ability to filter PBAs  from their sources.  Five pounds of PBAs can contaminate 265,000,000 gallons of water, according to the World Health Organization.  This poses a huge risk for the people, livestock, and wildlife of Douglas County, over the coming years.   

BPAs are known endocrine disruptors and have been banned from many plastics in the USA.  What does this mean?  BPAs negatively affect development of unborn and small children, children’s behavior, lower fertility rates, increased breast cancer and testicular cancer rates, and possible links to high blood pressure, type-2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.  Children are the most at risk from the effects of BPAs which has resulted in the United States banning PBAs from many of the plastics used in baby bottles, water bottles and many food containers.