Resource Documents: Noise (494 items)
Documents presented here are not the product of nor are they necessarily endorsed by National Wind Watch. These resource documents are provided to assist anyone wishing to research the issue of industrial wind power and the impacts of its development. The information should be evaluated by each reader to come to their own conclusions about the many areas of debate.
Author: Davis, Jane
I am Jane Davis. I live on a farm [Grays Farm] on the Fens in Lincolnshire, England, an area known as South Holland.
Perceptions of Noise
- Swish – blade cutting through the air.
- Ripping /lashing
- Hum – low frequency drone similar to mains transformer, but uneven.
- WD40 noise.
- Background roar.
- Helicopter noise (aerodynamic modulation – AM) …Whoooomph
- Enhanced helicopter noise (amplitude modulation of aerodynamic modulation)
Factors That Emphasise Turbine Noise Pollution
- Shelter – Trees, especially conifers, tend to filter out other noise, making the sound of the turbines clearer.
- Reflective surfaces – Buildings (especially with steel cladding) reflect the sound, increasing the annoyance and making the enveloping of the area even more complete.
- Insulation – from other sounds (double glazing, wall insulation, ear plugs etc) leads to greater selection for lower frequency sound pressure waves as they have a much greater ability to penetrate and are practically impossible to protect against in a domestic situation.
- Wind direction – Most effects are worst when the wind is from a southerly direction, blowing through the wind farm toward our home.
- Stable air conditions associated with temperature inversion on summer evening, i.e., still air and quiet at ground level but strong wind at 100 metres above ground level.
Extract from South Holland District Council
“It should be noted that the methodology for assessing noise from wind farms is different from other more traditional sources of noise (e.g., loud music). The standard ETSU-R-97 is used for wind farms as opposed to BS:4142 for most other noise sources, meaning that traditional measures of nuisance do not apply.”
|1||25/06/2006||15.00 to 23.00||Significant noise and sensations||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|2||26/06/2006||05.00 – 07.00 and 22.00 – 24.00||11.5 revolutions per min and grinding/rumble heard at night||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|8||02/07/2006||17.00 – 24.00||Tried to have a BBQ and had to go inside due to noise and vibration – felt by guests also. Difficult to get to sleep. Wind SSE, SSW||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|21/07/2006||Holiday – Away, throughout holiday all of us slept till at least 9 am. No headaches, or earaches whilst away. Turbines off when we returned home.|
|15||22/07/2006||04.37 – 07.30||Woken at 04.37, ears pulsing, whoosh, throb and house humming. I cried.||Yes||Yes||Yes.|
|18||25/07/2006||19.00 – 23.00||Too loud to sit comfortably in garden.||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|23||30/07/2006||19.30 – 23.01||Could be heard over combines!||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|25||01/08/2006||04.37 -||woken by house humming and ears pulsing. Wind from SW, fast and noisy||Yes||Yes||Yes.|
|56||01/09/2006||04.44||woken by house humming and ears pulsing. Wind from SW, fast and noisy||Yes||Yes||Yes.|
|57||02/09/2006||04.38||woken by house humming and ears pulsing. Turbines whooshing and thumping fast and noisy. Eventually got back to sleep by putting fan on facing wall.||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|61||06/09/2006||04.47||woken by house humming and ears pulsing. Turbines whooshing and thumping fast and noisy. Eventually got back to sleep by putting fan on facing wall.||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|62||07/09/2006||05.35 – 23.00||Hum very loud and “rattly”||Yes|
|63||08/09/2006||02.00 – 24.00||Woke at 02.00 to go to the toilet, still awake at 03.43. Hum more of a noisy grinding in the background than a hum, and not easy to get back to sleep. Hum and whoosh very noticeable at midnight when we had
|64||09/09/2006||04.44 – 23.00||Woke briefly and could hear hum but went back to sleep as had taken sleeping tablets||yes|
Transport, environment and health. WHO Regional Publications. European Series No. 89
“Noise can cause difficulty in falling asleep, reduction in deep resting sleep. Increased awakenings during sleep and adverse after effects such as fatigue and decreased performance. These effects are avoided if noise levels are kept below 30dB LAeq continuous noise or 45dB LA max indoors. (LAeq values refer to steady state continuous noise. LA max values refer to noise events.)”
So what steps can be taken to protect the residential amenity?
- Consider what is the difference between sound and noise? Clearly more than the loudness alone. An aircraft is very noisy, but a dripping tap at night can be more than enough to spoil a good nights sleep.
- ETSU-R-97 just talks about noise as in volume – it does nothing to account for the intrusive character of the noise. So in a rural area 35dB(A) may be as much as 15 dB(A) over background and modulate as well. 43dB(A) (the nightime recommended criteria WILL be too high in a rural area, even with a nearby road!). “A” weighting masks the low frequency element by diminishing it!
- Spacing is crucial. Spacing between turbines (following current best practice) should be at least 4 × the rotor diameter apart. Between rows of Turbines it should be 10 × the rotor diameter.
- Whichever turbine is chosen as the model for the EIA then that IS the model and any changes should have a new noise assessment done. Size DOES matter! The relationship between blade length and tower height is critical and crucial to the material effect that it will have on noise and the residential amenity.
- Distancing from homes/schools etc should be 1.5 miles (in an ideal world) but NEVER less than 1000m, irrespective of whom the inhabitant is going to be!
Author: Laurie, Sarah
Do wind turbines cause adverse health effects? What are the mechanisms?
Out to what distance?
What is the existing evidence?
– Peer reviewed and published in journals, based on data rather than “reviews”
– Peer reviewed
What is the wind industry (and its many supporters and paid experts) saying?
How can we move forward?
Do Wind Turbines Cause Adverse Health Effects?
YES!! Reported by clinicians and residents (including turbine “hosts”), workers and visitors around the world.
Clear patterns of exposure to operating wind turbines leading to a characteristic range of health problems, variably expressed depending on individual susceptibility.
Not everyone is affected, and onset of symptoms varies.
If affected, cumulative exposure worsens symptoms. Always improve with cessation.
First reported by “front line” clinicians – rural physicians:
– Dr Amanda Harry (UK) 2003
– Dr David Iser, Toora, Victoria, Australian 2004
– Dr Nina Pierpont, US Paediatrician 2009
Others now investigating/reporting include:
– Professor Robert McMurtry, Ontario 2010
– Dr Chris Hanning, Sleep Physician, UK
– Dr Mauri Johansson, Danish Occupational Physician
– Dr Eckhardt Kuck, German Oral Surgeon
What are the mechanisms?
Known to cause harm to health from other sources:
– Low Frequency noise (LFN; 20–200 Hz)
– Infrasound (0–20 Hz)
Other possible mechanisms suggested by researchers:
– Ground borne (seismic) vibrations
– Rapid changes in barometric pressure
– Electromagnetic fields
Known mechanisms – LFN
Leventhall, 2003 literature review for UK’s DEFRA:
- LFN exposure caused range of symptoms identical to “wind turbine syndrome” in a case control study – source of LFN was compressors
- LFN also reported to cause a physiological stress response (eg in sleeping children exposed to truck LFN – elevated cortisol
- People appear to become “sensitised”
- Symptoms worsen with ongoing exposure
- Denial of symptoms and lack of understanding by clinicians results in increased psychological stress
Known mechanisms – Infrasound
No data on long term human exposure in the public domain (but used acutely as a “non-lethal weapon”).
Short term exposure (1 hour) in young fit adults resulted in elevated blood pressure, nausea, ear pressure.
Chronic exposure in rats (1 study)
– Oxidative stress mechanism (rats fed antioxidants showed less damage)
– Focal organ damage (eg liver, brain, kidneys, testes, heart muscle)
Adrenaline and cortisol release measured in animal gut.
Acoustic Field Evidence
Infrasound and low frequency noise from wind turbines is being measured inside the homes and workplaces of sick people by the following acousticians (some have themselves become sick):
– Mr Rick James, USA
– Mr Rob Rand, USA
– Mr Steven Ambrose, USA
– Mr Steven Cooper, Australia
– Dr Bob Thorne, Australia
– Mr Les Huson, Australia
– Professor Colin Hansen, Dr Con Doolan, Adelaide University
Over what distances are adverse health effects reported?
Characteristic symptoms of “body vibrations” and the “waking repeatedly at night in a panicked state” out to 10km from Waterloo wind development in South Australia (VESTAS V90 wind turbines, rated at 3MW – size matters).
Frenchman severely affected aler 3 years of exposure at 11.5km, but 2MW turbines at 4,000ft altitude. Does altitude affect sound energy transmission?? (wind turbine infrasound measured at Hubert’s home).
Other reports of “sensitised” people affected out to 35km and more (US, Wales, Australia – “the HUM”).
Peer reviewed published DATA
Wind turbine health specific research data:
Dr Daniel Shepherd “Noise & Health”– Confirmed sleep disturbance and adverse impact on health related quality of life in cross sectional study.
Dr Michael Nissenbaum (publication in Oct 12)
– Data described beginnings of a dose response curve.
Krogh, et al WindVOICE survey Ontario confirmed Dr Amanda Harry’s findings from UK.
Møller & Pedersen 2011 (Size Matters – larger turbines emit more proportional LFN).
Professor Alec Salt – physiologist – “inner ear reacts very differently to infrasound where there is very low background noise (eg quiet rural environments)” and at 60dBG will provoke a vestibular response and the “alerting mechanism” or “fight flight response” (levels of 60dBG are commonly being measured).
“Vibroacoustic disease” with prolonged LFN exposure eg in aviation workers, now being identified in German residents exposed to wind turbines long term (Alves Pereira, and Chao)
– Pericardial thickening
– Mitral and tricuspid valve abnormalities
– Thickened wall of blood vessels
– Dramatic increase in late onset epilepsy.
Summary of current hypotheses
– activation of vestibular dysfunction via inner ear
– Headache symptoms possibly LFN via eyes, or EMF
– Repetitive physiological stress
– Chronic cumulative severe sleep deprivation
– Psychological stress because of lack of response of responsible authorities, and hostile community
Long term tissue damage (vibroacoustic disease)
What do the wind developers say?
It varies!! Privately employees from Origin, Suzlon have admitted they know people get sick.
Some categorically deny any health problems anywhere (Infigen, in Senate testimony).
Some admit some people get “stressed” and infer or openly state this is because of “scaremongering” (Acciona in Senate testimony).
Professor Wittert, paid expert for Acciona in the Paltridge case, admitted people were “sick” and “stressed” but blamed scaremongering.
What is the evidence for “scaremongering” causing the symptoms at existing wind projects?
First reports from medical doctors:
– 2003 Dr Amanda Harry, UK (Rural GP)
– 2004 Dr David Iser, Toora, Victoria (Rural GP)
– 2009 Dr Nina Pierpont, USA (Paediatrician)
First reports by Waubra residents in Victoria to media and health authorities were in 2009.
I first spoke out publicly in July 2010.
What do wind developers and others (eg SA EPA) say about infrasound?
“there is no infrasound at a well maintained wind farm” (SA EPA guidelines), but:
- Infrasound measured and reported by NASA in 1989 at “upwind” turbines in Hawaii.
- Dr Frits Van Den Berg reported it in 2004.
- Since measured at multiple developments in Australia and the US by James, Rand, Ambrose, Cooper, Huson, & Thorne.
How can we move forward?
RESEARCH – multidisciplinary, done by those with no vested interests in the outcome.
LEGAL – cases are currently underway in a number of different parts of the world (especially in Ontario and Australia).
July 2011 judgment in Canada
“This case has successfully shown that the debate should not be simplified to one about whether wind turbines can cause harm to humans. The evidence presented to the Tribunal demonstrates that they can, if facilities are placed too close to residents. The debate has now evolved to one of degree.” (p. 207) (Emphasis added)
—Environmental Review Tribunal, Case Nos.: 10-121/10-122 Erickson v. Director, Ministry of the Environment, Dated this 18th day of July, 2011 by Jerry V. DeMarco, Panel Chair and Paul Muldoon, Vice-Chair
Sowing the Seeds of Farmer Health
2nd National Centre for Farmer Health Conference
17-19 September 2012
Hamilton, Victoria, Australia
Author: Kenny, Pamela
Would I say this?:
Hundreds of thousands of people around the world live near and work at operating wind turbines without health effects. Wind energy enjoys considerable public support, but wind energy detractors have publicized their concerns that the sounds emitted from wind turbines cause adverse health effects. These allegations of health-related impacts are not supported by science. Studies show no evidence for direct human health effects from wind turbines.
It is certainly not me talking.
It is the claim of the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), the national trade association for the U.S. wind industry. Wind power developers and their lobby groups around the world are shouting the same message – that the noise and vibration (infrasound, sound pressure, and low frequency noise) produced by large-scale wind turbines produce no direct health effects.
In reality, their claim is a lie. There is an ocean of documented evidence to support the assertions of anti-wind campaigners that the noise and vibration from wind turbines causes a range of health problems in significant numbers of people. If you search for just a couple of hours online, you can find personal stories by the thousand, and also numerous highly technical research papers by eminent medics and scientists detailing, amongst others, these symptoms:
- Chronic sleep deprivation
- Sleep disturbance
- Increased blood pressure
- Increased blood sugar (dangerous for diabetics)
- Poor concentration and memory
- Headaches and migraines
- Dizziness, unsteadiness, ear pain and vertigo
- Vibration in the body, particularly the chest
- Sensations of pressure or fullness in the ear
- Annoyance, anger and aggression
- Increase in agitation by those with Autistic Spectrum Disorder, and ADD/ADHD
Some of these symptoms can be attributed to sleep deprivation. It is increasingly clear from peer- reviewed medical papers that night noise interrupting sleep has an adverse effect on both cardiovascular health and stress levels. Interrupted sleep can also have serious effects on daytime concentration leading, potentially, to increased risk of industrial accidents and road traffic collisions. As these problems are likely to occur at locations remote from the cause of the interrupted sleep they are difficult to attribute to their actual cause. Dr. Christopher Hanning, a now-retired Consultant in Sleep Disorders Medicine to the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, writes:
In the short term … deprivation of sleep results in daytime fatigue and sleepiness, poor concentration and memory function. Accident risks increase. In the longer term, sleep deprivation is linked to depression, weight gain, diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.
I do not pretend to be an expert in the effects of noise, but I do know that in over 30 years as a GP I have seen countless patients presenting with the effects of insomnia, and shift workers in particular suffer far more than the general population with the effects of disturbed sleep. What I find astonishing is that the noise regulations for the wind industry permit MORE noise to be generated by the turbines at night than during the day. This is completely contrary to noise pollution legislation, World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines – and common sense.
Other symptoms listed above are likely to be a response to exposure to infrasound (sound with a frequency of less than 20 Hz) and low frequency noise (sound with a frequency of less than 200 Hz) produced by the turbines. Both low frequency noise and infrasound occur naturally in the environment (for instance, from household appliances and machinery in the case of low frequency noise, and ocean waves in the case of infrasound). In periods when the wind is blustery, large wind turbines generate both very low frequency sounds and infrasound which can travel much greater distances than audible sound. These sounds are not audible to the human ear, but our brains certainly detect them and some susceptible people suffer some of the unpleasant symptoms I have listed, such as tinnitus, ear pain and vertigo. If you feel up to reading some technical, but very interesting, research on this subject, take a look at “Wind-Turbine Noise. What Audiologists Should Know” by Punch, James and Pabst, published in the American publication Audiology Today in 2010.
Other reasons why people experience health impacts from wind turbines include the swishing or thumping of the blades, which is highly annoying as the frequency and loudness varies with changes in wind speed and local atmospheric conditions. This is not at all like the sound of a passing train, aeroplane or tractor which moves on rapidly to be replaced by less intrusive background sounds. The noise of wind turbines has been likened to a “passing train that never passes” which may explain why it is prone to cause sleep disruption.
Some of those with heightened sensitivity to specific repetitive stimuli, such as those with Autistic Spectrum Disorder, Attention Deficit Disorder or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADD/ADHD), can be seriously affected by the noise. Consultant clinical psychologist Dr. Susan Stebbings, from the Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Trust, said more research was needed into wind turbine noise and these disorders:
Because it is clear from our clinical knowledge of the condition of autism that the sensory difficulties individuals can have are possibly going to be impacted on by the presence of such large sensory objects in their environment.
Indeed, there is at least one case on record of a wind farm application being turned down because of the proven impact on children with autism.
Then there is shadow flicker or strobing which occurs when the rotating blades periodically cast shadows through the windows of properties. This can be truly unpleasant to live with and can trigger migraine and – much more rarely – epileptic fits in those suffering from photosensitive epilepsy. At night, the red warning lights on the tops of some turbines can cause blade glint and strobing effects, so it is not just a daytime phenomenon.
Then there is the effect of stress. If you live in a tranquil rural area like ours, where the daytime and night time noise levels are almost always very low, you may well suffer varying levels of stress from the imposition of industrial-scale wind turbines into the landscape. The stress can occur long before the turbines are erected: during the planning process; during the noise and disruption of the construction; when you see the turbines for the first time and cannot believe the scale of them; and, then, during their operation when your sleep is disrupted and other physical and mental symptoms present themselves.
The effects of wind turbine noise have been known for several years now. In February 2007, a Plymouth GP, Dr. Amanda Harry, published a report “Wind Turbines, Noise and Health”. The report documents her contacts with 39 people living between 300 metres and 2 kilometres from the nearest turbine of a wind farm. She discovered symptoms such as those I have outlined experienced by people living up to 1.6 kilometres from the wind farms.
The wind industry has repeatedly tried to discredit Dr. Harry’s report, and another – published in 2009 – by a leading American Pediatrician Dr. Nina Pierpont, who coined the phrase “Wind Turbine Syndrome” to cover the range of health problems she investigated over five years in the US, the UK, Italy, Ireland and Canada. The global wind industry also spends vast sums attempting to discredit scientifically sound research studies, and the papers of experts in the physiology of the ear that prove infrasound can have adverse effects despite it not being audible.
It is true that both Dr. Harry’s and Dr. Pierpont’s research is largely anecdotal and does not reach the high standards needed for statistical validity. However, that also applied to reports on the association between lung cancer and smoking, and asbestos and asbestosis, in the early days.
We have now reached the stage in the debate when there can be no reasonable doubt that industrial wind turbines – whether singly or in wind farms – generate sufficient noise to disturb the sleep and impair the health of those living nearby. In fact, our own Government has long been fully aware of the problems, as demonstrated in a 2008 Economic Affairs Committee Memorandum by Mr Peter Hadden, which concludes that:
onshore wind turbines built within 2km of homes offer no benefits and should not be part of a plan to provide the UK with a viable, secure, predictable supply of electricity. Indeed, onshore wind turbines ensure an unpredictable energy supply, by the very nature of the wind, with a long list of adverse impacts that diminish their supposed usefulness. Other renewables, such as solar and hydropower, offer more options and more predictability, especially combined with the still necessary (and technologically advancing) conventional sources of energy.
I find it unbelievable that the wind industry is permitted to inflict health nuisance such as sleep disturbance, stress, and headaches on our communities – let alone more serious health issues such as depression, and heart and diabetes problems. To suggest, as the wind industry does, that there is “no problem” when faced with the huge body of evidence from around the world is perverse.
What sums up this entire problem for me is the quote below. It is by Dr. Noel Kerin of the Occupational and Environmental Medical Association of Canada. He was attending the First International Symposium on Adverse Health Effects and Industrial Wind Turbines, held in Canada in October 2010. He was shocked by the overwhelming evidence on the harmful effects of wind turbines:
First we had tobacco, then asbestos, and urea formaldehyde, and now wind turbines. Don’t we ever learn? Our public health system should be screaming the precautionary principle. The very people who are sworn to protect us have abandoned the public.
My extensive reading into the harmful effects of wind turbines leaves me in no doubt that, to protect our community, we need to oppose the erection of three 125 metre turbines on Berry Fen.* Quite aside from the damage to our beautiful landscape, our tranquillity, our tourism industry, and wildlife, this wind farm would have serious implications for the health of many who live and work here for the entire 25-year life of the wind farm, and well beyond.
Pamela Kenny, MB BS, MRCS LRCP, FIMC RCSEd
Dr. Pamela Kenny was a founder of the current Haddenham and Stretham GP surgeries in 1986. She retired from practice there in 2006, but continued to work in Cottenham and St Ives and is a Trustee of the emergency medical service MAGPAS. Dr. Kenny has always had an interest in how lifestyle factors affect patient’s health, and continues to do so in the interests of the community. She has immense sympathy with anyone who might be affected by any form of flicker as she has always suffered from flicker-induced migraine. She also has the kind of hearing that is super-sensitive to both high and very low sound.
*There is still time to object to the planning application [the deadline has been extended to 3rd September 2014]. You do not have to write a long letter – just a couple of points outlining why you object – and every single person in your household should write individually as the number of objections will make a difference. Whichever method you choose, please include your name and full postal address, and the Planning Application Number 14/00728/ESF:
- Send your objection by email to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Or write to: Mrs Penny Mills, Planning Officer, East Cambs District Council, The Grange, Nutholt Lane, Ely, CB7 4EE
- Or drop off to the following addresses: Simon Monk, Dunelm House, 4d The Borough, Aldreth; and Ian Munford, 4 Orchard Way, Haddenham.
Author: Krahé, Detlef; Schreckenberg, Dirk; Ebner, Fabian; Eulitz, Christian; and Möhler, Ulrich
This feasibility study evaluated the state of knowledge about the effects of infrasound on human beings, the identification of infrasound sources and the potential concerns in Germany due to infrasound. Furthermore, a study design was developed for a noise impact study concerning infrasound immissions. Based on these findings, recommendations for the further development of regulations on immission control were made. The study led to the following conclusions:
- The literature review does not present a coherent picture about the determination and assessment of low frequency sounds. Especially in Germany, there are just a few studies that deal with infrasound. A database was created for further research projects.
- Survey tools that allow for an initial acoustic description and classification were developed for the acoustic identification and assessment of potential infrasound sources.
- The surveys of the immission control authorities of the Länder (German states) and the evaluation of Internet communication on infrasound show a somewhat higher level of noise pollution in Southern Germany. Above all, noise pollution from air-conditioning systems and biogas facilities were mentioned. In the official practice, the Technical Instructions on Noise Abatement and DIN 45680 generally apply in cases of conflicts concerning infrasound.
- A study design was developed for an interdisciplinary field study and the essential survey contents and sources were defined.
- The DIN 45680 Measurement and Assessment of Low Frequency Noise Immissions in the Neighbourhood can be used for the assessment of low frequency noise (<100 Hz). The international standard ISO 7196 Acoustics – Frequency-Weighting Characteristic for Infrasound Measurements was especially created for the measurement of infrasound immissions (<20 Hz). The research findings indicate that these standards have deficits with regards to the assessment of infrasound and should be further developed. The current revision of DIN 45680 shows a path for how inconsistencies in the area of low frequency sounds can be rectified.
—June 2014, Umweltbundesamt (Federal Environmental Agency, Germany)
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