Inside the Health Crisis of a Texas Bitcoin Town

Longtime Slashdot reader ArchieBunker shares a report from TIME Magazine: On an evening in December 2023, 43-year-old small business owner Sarah Rosenkranz collapsed in her home in Granbury, Texas and was rushed to the emergency room. Her heart pounded 200 beats per minute; her blood pressure spiked into hypertensive crisis; her skull throbbed. “It felt like my head was in a pressure vise being crushed,” she says. “That pain was worse than childbirth.” Rosenkranz’s migraine lasted for five days. Doctors gave her several rounds of IV medication and painkiller shots, but nothing seemed to knock down the pain, she says. This was odd, especially because local doctors were similarly vexed when Indigo, Rosenkranz’s 5-year-old daughter, was taken to urgent care earlier that year, screaming that she felt a “red beam behind her eardrums.” It didn’t occur to Sarah that these symptoms could be linked. But in January 2024, she walked into a town hall in Granbury and found a room full of people worn thin from strange, debilitating illnesses. A mother said her 8-year-old daughter was losing her hearing and fluids were leaking from her ears. Several women said they experienced fainting spells, including while driving on the highway. Others said they were wracked by debilitating vertigo and nausea, waking up in the middle of the night mid-vomit. None of them knew what, exactly, was causing these symptoms. But they all shared a singular grievance: a dull aural hum had crept into their lives, which growled or roared depending on the time of day, rattling their windows and rendering them unable to sleep. The hum, local law enforcement had learned, was emanating from a Bitcoin mining facility that had recently moved into the area — and was exceeding legal noise ordinances on a daily basis.

Over the course of several months in 2024, TIME spoke to more than 40 people in the Granbury area who reported a medical ailment that they believe is connected to the arrival of the Bitcoin mine: hypertension, heart palpitations, chest pain, vertigo, tinnitus, migraines, panic attacks. At least 10 people went to urgent care or the emergency room with these symptoms. The development of large-scale Bitcoin mines and data centers is quite new, and most of them are housed in extremely remote places. There have been no major medical studies on the impacts of living near one. But there is an increasing body of scientific studies linking prolonged exposure to noise pollution with cardiovascular damage. And one local doctor — ears, nose, and throat specialist Salim Bhaloo — says he sees patients with symptoms potentially stemming from the Bitcoin mine’s noise on an almost weekly basis. “I’m sure it increases their cortisol and sugar levels, so you’re getting headaches, vertigo, and it snowballs from there,” Bhaloo says. “This thing is definitely causing a tremendous amount of stress. Everyone is just miserable about it.” “By the end of 2024, we intend to have replaced the majority of air-cooled containers with immersion cooling, with no expansion required,” said a representative for Marathon Digital Holdings, the company that owns the mine. “Initial sound readings on immersion containers indicate favorable results in sound reduction and compliance with all relevant state noise ordinances.” They did not answer questions about the health impacts their mining site was causing.

“We’re living in a nightmare,” said Rosenkranz. She clocked the hum at 72 decibels in Indigo’s bedroom in the dead of night. “Indigo’s room directly faces the mine, which sits about a mile and a half away,” notes TIME. She had to be pulled from her school after she developed so many ear infections from the sound.

The report also said a resident’s dog “started going bald and developed debilitating anxiety shortly after the Bitcoin mine began operating four blocks away.” TIME added: “Directly next door, Tom Weeks’ dog Jack Rabbit Slim started shaking and hyperventilating uncontrollably for hours on end; a vet placed him on the seizure medication Gabapentin. Rosenkranz’s chickens stopped laying eggs for months. And Jerry and Patricia Campbell’s centuries-old oak tree, which had served as the family’s hub and protector for generations of backyard family reunions and even a wedding, died suddenly three months ago.”

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