Resource Documents: Noise (593 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: Pease, Janice
I want to start off by saying I support green energy and the move towards ending our dependence on fossil fuels as well as nuclear.
Clearly we need clean energy, as quickly as possible.
However, something needs to change in how we think about these goals and the routes we take to achieve them.
In rural areas around the country, industrial wind farms are cropping up, seemingly over night, invading the skyline of our most pristine and beautiful locations. These turbines are now tending toward the heights of 500 to 600 feet from base to the blade tip.
Locally, in Hopkinton and Parishville we are being threatened with 40 industrial turbines, 500 feet tall potentially within 2,500 feet of home.
There is a lack of ethics in how the companies operate and approach the communities. In 2009 the first lease was signed in Hopkinton, but many of us did not find out about this project until about 2 years ago. There was no notification through our local government, the secrecy was in part achieved through agreements that the company made within the project zone.
Because of this lack of community awareness, our town was not properly prepared as far as zoning including a wind law. Over the past couple of years our towns have been working to build up the wind laws to protect ourselves. However, there has been great pushback by Avangrid/Iberdrola and leaseholders.
Because of the lack of transparency and scientific knowledge, our wind laws may still not protect the towns from what could happen if the turbines come in.
In their relatively short life spans, the turbines damage things that aren’t replaceable, such as water quality. In Scotland at the Whitelee Wind Farm, Scottish Power (a subsidiary of Iberdrola) knew of contamination in private water supplies to homes. This contamination included E. Coli and other coliform bacteria which resulted in illness. Test results obtained by Dr. Rachel Connor showed high levels of trihalomethane, which research has linked to cancers, stillbirths, and miscarriages. Scottish Power Renewables admitted not notifying the appropriate authorities of the water contamination for 7 years, until it came to light following investigation by local residents. During the pile driving, other chemicals from manufacturing contaminate water supplies.
This is just one aspect of the health issues relating to industrial turbine farms.
A more controversial issue is the noise output of industrial-scale turbines, which produce not only audible noise but the more concerning inaudible low frequencies and infrasound.
Over the past year and a half I have read everything I could about wind turbines and their relationship to sound. It is more complex than the industry would have you believe. The sound produced by turbines is defined as the amplitude modulation of broadband aerodynamic noise created by the blades at the blade-passing frequency. This acoustic signal has both a high-frequency broadband character and low-frequency amplitude modulation. This is in part why the sound character overshadows the existing noise profile of these rural areas.
Being that most noise standards are set using the dBA scale (which deals mainly with human conscious threshold of hearing), sounds that are inaudible but otherwise sensed are not being measured or acknowledged.
Many scientists and experts, including Dr. Nina Pierpont, the author of Wind Turbine Syndrome, A Report on a Natural Experiment, has documented case reports of patients suffering from what has now been coined wind turbine syndrome. This syndrome produces several symptoms related to the vestibular system’s organs – such as disturbed sleep, headaches, tinnitus, a sense of quivering or vibration, nervousness, rapid heartbeat, nausea, difficulty with concentration, memory loss, and irritability.
During my research, I have come to a deeper understanding of the complexity of these health affects and the connection between wind turbine syndrome and vibroaccoustic disease. I have been in contact with Dr. Mariana Alves-Pereira in Portugal, who holds degrees in physics, biomedical engineering, and environmental science. She and her team have been researching vibroacoustic disease since 1980.
Quoting from The Clinical Stages of Vibroacoustic Disease, by Nuno Castelo Branco:
This disease is an effect of exposure to low-frequency noise and infrasound.
- Stage I, mild signs (behavioral and mood associated with repeated infections of the respiratory tract, example – bronchitis
- Stage II, moderate signs (depression and aggressiveness, pericardial thickening and other extra-cellular matrix changes, light to moderate hearing impairment, and discrete neurovascular disorders)
- Stage III, severe signs (myocardial infarction, stroke, malignancy, epilepsy, and suicide).
Now, in the Guidelines for Community Noise, the World Health Organization includes advice on noise levels in hospitals and suggests that, because patients are less able to cope with the increased stress levels generated by excess environmental noise, the sound level in hospitals should not exceed 35 dBA for areas where patients are treated or observed, with a corresponding max of 40 dBA . The WHO guidelines for community noise recommend less than 30 A-weighted decibels (dBA) in bedrooms during the night for sleep quality and less than 35 dB(A) in classrooms to allow good teaching and learning conditions.
The background rural ambient noise is around 20-25 dBA. An increase of 3 dBA is noticeable and an increase of 10 dBA is perceived as a doubling in loudness.
To put this in context: Currently our town is reviewing the Wind Advisory Board’s recommendations of 35-40 dBA at night.
Some of our town board members have pushed for 45 dBA night and day. With the knowledge that 25 to 45 dBA is a quadrupling of our ambient nightime noise we can conclude that 45 dBA will lead to lack of seep and potentially adverse health affects.
People in other towns have had to abandon their homes to escape these noise effects of turbines.
Earlier this year, I heard testimony from Kevin Segourney, a science teacher from Chateaugay. He lived 1,800 to 2,600 feet from 482-foot turbines in the Jericho Wind Farm. He was living with sound levels above the allowable 50 dBA (which the town of Chateaugay had deemed to be acceptable and legal). However, the low frequencies and infrasound were not taken into account.
In 2014 Steve and Luann Therrien abandoned their home of two decades because of the sound and vibrations from the power plant in Sheffield, Vt. The whole family developed problems sleeping and other health ailments.
After the property went up for tax sale, Energize Vermont payed off the family’s back taxes with an agreement to use the property as the Vermont Center for Turbine Impact Studies. They will be conducting research on the effects that the wind turbines have on the environment, wildlife, and the residents. The research teams will also assess the performance of state regulators in their efforts to monitor and enforce wind turbine standards.
In 2014, the Board of Health in Brown County, Wisconsin declared a local industrial wind plant to be a health hazard in a unanimous vote. This ruling was based on a year-long survey with documented health complaints and demonstrated that low-frequency noise and infrasound were emanating from the turbines and detectable inside homes within a 6.2-mile radius of the industrial wind plant.
Industrial wind turbines are causing complaints worldwide, and the documentation is growing. Part of the reason for the lag in recognition is due to the lax monitoring. Basically the companies monitor themselves. There is no real way to ensure they are in compliance with the wind laws and sound limits. There is no entity to protect us when the company is out of compliance, as they have been in many other wind farms across the country.
The companies would like you to believe this is all debatable, but as someone who has read hundreds of papers, articles, peer-reviewed scientific data, and reports on the effects of wind turbines on human and animal health, I can say that this needs to be acknowledged by government agencies and reported on by the media.
Clearly there is an issue here, yet it is not being discussed openly. There is a NIMBY (not in back yard) stigma attached to anyone who dares reject the idea of a having a power plant in their back yard. When discussing this with people in the communities surrounding the project, there is a disbelief and skepticism that is coupled with judgment.
Our communities need the help of surrounding towns to support them through this project to ensure the right thing happens.
There are children who will live less than a half-mile from these turbines. Parents deserve the right to question the ethics and morality of this project.
These things are being diminished under the guise of the greater good. I argue that it is not for the greater good to implement projects that might harm the very nature and people we are trying to protect. There have been studies on the adverse health affects experienced by badgers, geese, minks, and other animals living within close proximity to turbines – who will protect them?
So is it ethical to keep covering every sacred space with these turbines for power production? Knowing they could actually set us back environmentally while simultaneous accumulating casualties.
I personally believe in the precautionary principle which is defined as:
When human activities may lead to morally unacceptable harm that is scientifically plausible but uncertain, actions shall be taken to avoid or diminish that harm.
I think if we brought this principle into the planning process of every aspect of our economy, our environment would be in better shape. I am hoping to shed light on this local issue so people will demand protection for our towns and help us avoid the problems reported in other towns with industrial turbines.
I am asking North Country Public Radio to investigate this issue and help us prevent the loss of habitat, the loss of quiet spaces, and the slew of potential adverse health effects.
July 28, 2017
[Pease presented a 5-minute version of this appeal in person at an NCPR Executive Session and provided this write-up to their investigative reporter.]
Author: Ambrose, Stephen
Separation distance is the solitary wind turbine noise control method to assure protections for public health and compatibility with the area. (Two international consensus guidelines may be used to evaluate the effectiveness of a regulatory statute: WHO 2009 Table 1 noise effects on health, and ANSI S12.9, Parts 4 & 5 assessment of compatibility.) A direct relationship connects sound power level (Lw) to noise source distance: ISO 9613-2, section 7.1: Adiv = 20Log(m) + 11 dB. The MassDEP regulates the maximum noise level increase (LI) to more than 10 dB (Lmax) above the baseline ambient (BA) L90, without the noise source when measured (or predicted) at the neighbor’s property line (PL). A simple equation predicts the highest allowed sound power level by distance: Lw = Adiv + LI + BA.
1. Locate Wind-1, Wind-2 and Notus on Google Earth (GE),
2. Using GE’s ruler circle draw, measure each wind turbine distance to the nearest residential property lines.
3. The highest allowed wind turbine sound power levels are shown in the table below comparing manufacturers published noise data.
Falmouth Wind Turbines: Cape Cod Commission vs acoustic experts
The Cape Cod Commission recognizes that wind turbines harm public health when installed near residential communities. Unfortunately, wind turbine acoustic experts emphasize sound measurements and noise predictions, omitting assessing for activity disturbance and nuisance. The Commission has chosen an alternative and potentially a more reliable screening tool than blind and deaf noise level predictions, by imposing a mandatory setback distance based on 10 times the rotor diameter. How effective is their approach?
1. Locate Wind-1, Wind-2 and Notus on Google Earth (GE),
2. Using GE’s ruler circle draw, measure each wind turbine distance to the nearest residential property lines.
3. Divide the property line distance by 10.
4. Use Siemens sound power chart (Low-noise wind turbine design, Stefan Oerlemans, Peter Fuglsang, Siemens Wind Power A/S, 2012 EWEA-Noise-Workshop-Oxford-2012-1-1-Stefan-Oerlemans.pdf (page 11)) to estimate maximum allowable wind turbine sound power level (Lw) from rotor diameter. Compare to wind turbine sound power levels.
Selected papers from the 12th International Commission on Biological Effects of Noise Congress on Noise as a Public Health Problem, Zurich, 18–22 June 2017:
“Recent progress in the field of non-auditory health effects of noise – trends and research needs” by Yvonne de Kluizenaar and Toshihito Matsui – The Netherlands and Japan
… A wealth of new research on non-auditory health effects of noise has been published over the last 3 years. …
“Health Effects of Low Frequency Noise and Infrasound from Wind Farms: Results from an Independent Collective Expertise in France” by Philippe Lepoutre, Paul Avan, Anthony Cadene, David Ecotière, Anne-Sophie Evrard, Frédérique Moati, and Esko Topilla – France
… Recent results on the physiology of cochleo-vestibular system have revealed several pathways of physiological effects mechanisms that could be activated in response to exposure to ILFN. This sensory system has a particular sensitivity to these frequencies, superior to that of other parts of the human body. Available data suggest the hypothesis that sounds of frequencies too low or levels too low to be clearly audible could have effects mediated by receptors of the cochleo-vestibular system. …
“Noise Annoyance Caused by Large Wind Turbines – A Dose-Response Relationship” by Valtteri Hongisto and David Oliva – Finland
The purpose was to determine a dose-response-relationship of large wind turbines with nominal power of 3-5 MW. A cross-sectional survey was conducted around three wind power areas in Finland. The sample involved all households within 2km from the nearest turbine. Altogether 400 households out of 753 reported the annoyance indoors. The dose-response relationship was determined between the predicted noise exposure, LAeq, outdoors and the percentage of highly annoyed by wind turbine noise indoors. The percentage of highly annoyed, %HA, was less than 3%, and relatively even below 40dB LAeq. %HA started to increase when the level exceeded 40dB. …
“Hearing Beyond the Limit: Measurement, Perception and Impact of Infrasound and Ultrasonic Noise” by Christian Koch – Germany
In our daily lives, many sources emit infrasound due to their functions or as a side effect. At the other end of the hearing frequency range, airborne ultrasound is applied in many technical and medical processes and has also increasingly moved into everyday life. There are numerous indicators that sound at these frequencies can be perceived and can influence human beings. However, the precise mechanisms of this perception are unknown at present and this lack of understanding is reflected by the unsatisfactory status of the existing regulations and standards. …
“A Review of the Human Exposure-Response to Amplitude-Modulated Wind Turbine Noise: Health Effects, Influences on Community Annoyance, Methods of Control and Mitigation” by Michael J. B. Lotinga, Richard A. Perkins, Bernard Berry, Colin J. Grimwood, and Stephen A. Stansfeld – U.K.
… The conclusions of most reviews of the research on the effects of WTN on health, including those carried out on behalf of Government agencies, confirm that annoyance is caused by WTN, and that AM appears to increase annoyance. The association of WTN with sleep disturbance appears to be considerably more complex. … All of the field studies outlined so far have focussed on the responses to time-averaged WTN exposure levels. In a study of noise emissions from 1.8 MW turbines, it was argued that noise annoyance expressed by residents at 500-1900m distances might be exacerbated by AM, increased levels and low-frequency content occurring in the late evening and night-time. These phenomena were attributed to the stable night-time atmosphere causing high wind shear, and the coincidence of AM patterns from the turbines. … On the basis of the review and studies considered above, a control for AM has been proposed for use in planning windfarm developments. This control takes as its basis the principle that AM increases annoyance caused by WTN, and that this increase can be characterised by adding a penalty value to the overall WTN level, to equalise it with subjective judgement of a negligible-AM WTN sound. The results of ref 58 suggest that fluctuation in broadband WTN-like sounds will almost certainly be sensed by most people with normal hearing at approximately 3dB ΔLAeq,100ms(BP) which forms the proposed onset for the penalty. … The possible influence of increased low-frequency content in the AM is addressed by the design of the metric used to rate the magnitude, which employs frequency filtering to ensure the signal is evaluated for the range that produces the maximum AM rating. …
“Review of Research on the Effects of Noise on Sleep Over the Last 3 Years” by Sarah McGuire and Gunn Marit Aasvang – U.S. and Norway
the new actigraphy and polysomnographic field studies are the first studies on wind turbine noise which have used objective measures of sleep, as well as a study examining the potential benefit of nighttime air-traffic curfews. Also there have been new epidemiological studies which have added to the knowledge on the effects of noise on self-reported sleep disturbance. …
“The Inadequacy of the A-Frequency Weighting for the Assessment of Adverse Effects on Human Populations” by Bruce Rapley, Mariana Alves-Pereira, and Huub Bakker – New Zealand and Portugal
“Case Report: Cross-Sensitisation to Infrasound and Low Frequency Noise” by Bruce Rapley, Huub Bakker, Mariana Alves-Pereira, and Rachel Summers – New Zealand
This Case Report describes an episode experienced by two noise-sensitised individuals during a field trip. Exposed to residential infrasound and low frequency noise due coal mining activities, the subjects reacted suddenly, strongly and unexpectedly to pressure pulses generated by a wind farm located at a different town, approximately 160km by road from their residence. Simultaneous physiological data obtained in one subject and subjective sensations occurring during the episode are reported. Acoustical evaluations of the location of the episode are also reported. The possibility of a nocebo effect as an etiological factor for their bodily reactions is cogently eliminated. …
“Evaluation of Wind Turbine Noise in Japan” by Akira Shimada and Mimi Nameki – Japan
In order to tackle with wind turbine noise (WTN) related complaints, Ministry of the Environment of Japan (MOEJ) set up an expert committee in 2013. In November 2016, the committee published a report on investigation, prediction and evaluation methods of WTN. The report compiles recent scientific findings on WTN, including the results of nationwide field measurements in Japan and the results of review of the scientific literature related to health effects of WTN. The report sets out methodology for investigation, prediction and evaluation as well as case examples of countermeasures. A noise guideline for wind turbine, which suggests WTN should not be more than 5dB above the residual noise where residual noise levels are above 35-40dB, is also presented in the report. MOEJ is developing a WTN noise guideline and a technical manual for WTN investigation based on the report. Both documents will be finalized in the fast half of 2017.
“Wind Turbine Noise Effects on Sleep: The WiTNES Study” by Michael Smith, Mikael Ögren, Pontus Thorsson, Laith Hussain-Alkhateeb, Eja Pedersen, Jens Forssén, Julia Ageborg Morsing, and Kerstin Persson Waye – Sweden
Onshore wind turbines are becoming increasingly widespread globally, with the associated net effect that a greater number of people will be exposed to wind turbine noise (WTN). Sleep disturbance by WTN has been suggested to be of particular importance with regards to a potential impact on human health. … Almost all measures of self-reported sleep were negatively impacted following nights with wind turbine noise. The WTN nights lead to increased sleep disturbance, reduced sleep quality, increased tiredness, increased irritation, awakenings, increased difficulty to sleep, sleeping worse than usual, and decreased mood. Subjects dwelling close to wind turbines, and consequently potentially exposed to WTN at home, repeatedly scored their sleep and restoration lower than the reference group following the WTN nights.
“Frequency Weighting for the Evaluation of Human Response to Low-Frequency Noise Based on the Physiological Evidence of the Vestibular System” by Junta Tagusari, Shou Satou, and Toshihito Matsui – Japan
Several studies were found regarding adverse health effects due to low-frequency noise emitted by industrial machines including wind turbines. However, the causal chain between low-frequency noise and health effects still remains unclear. Meanwhile, from the physiological viewpoint, low-frequency noise stimulate hair cells in the vestibular system, which could cause dizziness, vertigo, headache and nausea. The stimulating process is different from the hearing process in the cochlea, which implies that the A-weighting is not appropriate for evaluating the risk of low-frequency noise and that an alternative method is required. …
“A new methodology for investigating ILFN complaints” Stephen Cooper – Australia
The methodology employed in the Cape Bridgewater study started from resident’s diaries of disturbances whilst noise monitoring was occurring. The procedure then took weather data, wind farm operating data and noise data as post-processed data to compare with the diaries to find trends where specific wind farm operations corresponded to the report disturbances. A similar procedure occurred for investigating “noise” complaints from residents concerning a coal-fired power station and a large ventilation fan for an underground coal mine. Limitations in obtaining high-quality full-spectrum wave files were encountered. Typical Class 1 sound level meters have storage limitations of 1–2½ days for such high-quality samples. Using multichannel systems such as a Bruel & Kjaer Pulse are expensive and lead to very large storage requirements. Utilising the study procedure resulted in the development of a relatively low cost, two-channel, full-spectrum data recorder for field use, coupled with simultaneous biometric monitoring. The methodology has been successfully employed/developed. The opportunities now available for more detailed processing of this data, together with linking the disturbances to the startle reflex are discussed.
Author: Mitchell, Peter
Many people have had their lives adversely impacted by the deployment of wind turbines in their district. Many more will become impacted by permitted but yet to be built wind projects. Often the impacts are of a magnitude that justify compensation in various forms.
This document has been prepared as a general guide to help identify the elements and possible magnitude of claims against the owner and/or the operator of a wind turbine project. The author is not a lawyer and takes no responsibility whatsoever for any use of any of the numbers herein which are merely presented for orientation purposes.
Any person who wishes to make a claim needs to consider their own circumstances and to obtain legal advice and assistance in making a claim.
The Purpose of This Document
This document is intended to give some guidance to those neighbours of wind turbine projects (WTPs) seeking relief on the construction of a financial claim for damages.
It also answers some questions about making a claim, but does not instruct how the claim might be supported, i.e., the detail that needs to be documented to support an impacted person’s claim. That will require the help of an informed lawyer.
Note that this document has been written based mainly upon the Australian context but it is felt that it may be a useful starting point in other jurisdictions.
Cause of Damage
Wind turbines emit airborne (sound) and ground-borne (vibration) pressure waves. Much is known about sound waves (the audible portion of which is identified as noise). and their ability to harm and disturb neighbours up to 10 to 12 km from turbines. It is also known that vibration can also be a factor in disturbance, but at this point, it is low frequency sound and ultra-low frequency sound (infrasound) particularly where amplitude modulation is present that is understood to cause most damage.
Useful data for supporting a claim can be accessed from the extensive Waubra Foundation website (www.waubrafoundation.org.au/), e.g. under the tab Resources see Health and Legal; Friends Against Wind (www.friends-against-wind.org/) using the Justice tab; National Wind Watch (https://www.wind-watch.org) search for Litigation; and Stop These Things (https://stopthesethings.com) search for Litigation.
Form of Damage
The airborne pressure pulses which emanate from wind turbines cause physiological and psychological damage to individuals in different ways and at different intensities.
In time the body can become increasingly sensitised and ultimately permanently damaged. Homes become uninhabitable and very difficult to sell. People become trapped in unsafe locations.
A second form of damage is productivity of farm animals and the possibility that farm strategies and processes have to be changed.
However the principal matters of damage are family health and well-being, the habitability of the family residence and the safety of any associated workplace.
Constructing a Financial Claim
Here are the components of a claim and some indicative numbers.
- The major element is the sale of your house to the Wind Turbine Project (WTP) owner and/or operator as applicable. The price asked should not be a present valuation, i.e., with turbines in place; but the price that the property would be worth today if there was no WTP in the area. This will involve briefing a first class valuer.
- There should be an add-on for the disturbance of having to move, which might be a 10% to 20% addition to the property price.
- There should be a refund of all the property replacement expenses such as stamp duty, legal documentation and conveyancing, and direct moving expenses.
- Compensation for the damage and hurt caused by living in a dangerous and harmful environment for the period since the project was commissioned. It is suggested this compensation should be calculated by multiplying the number of persons living in the house by the number of years the damage has been endured by a dollar sum per person per year.
This dollar sum will depend on the severity of disturbance which generally will correlate with the separation between the house and the nearest turbines, and speculation on what courts might award then discounted for the risk and expense of going to court.
Here Is a Suggested Scale for Assessing Damage or Nuisance
|Forced to evacuate the home||$150,000 to $200,000|
|Forced to live away as much as possible||$100,000 to $150,000|
|Major discomfort||$50,000 to $100,000|
If you wish to make a claim then consider where your family fits in the above categories, and be sensible in that rating. Again take your lawyer’s advice.
Should You Engage a Lawyer?
Yes. A lawyer is required to draft your claim and to be present and lead discussions with the representative of the WTP owner and/or developer. (In the Australian context, discussions may initially involve the National Wind Farm Commissioner).
Should You Join with Others Affected by the Same Wind Project?
Yes, if you consider they are willing to pay their share of costs, will be rational, particularly not wanting to rank their claims at a higher level than is reasonable, and will act in concert with the group. The group arrangements should be drafted by a lawyer so that there is the best possible protection against the WTP owner trying to break up the group with side deals.
Combining with others will, of course, reduce the cost of hiring a lawyer to draft and present your claim and also to draft some agreement on group arrangements.
Beware of Inappropriate Confidentiality Agreements
In settling problems in the past the industry has used “gag “clauses in some largely property based settlements and those gag clauses effectively stopped people who had sold properties from saying just about anything.
However it is reasonable for owners/operators to require that financial terms offered or agreed not be disclosed. Equally you may be disclosing personal and health information that you may want to keep confidential. These objectives should be able to be achieved by a specific agreement.
What About Court Action?
It is in the interests of both parties to negotiate a settlement.
Court actions are expensive and there is a risk of losing and having to meet in some jurisdictions not only your own costs, but those of the other side.
On the other side there is much evidence that would be exposed in a court action by a skilled barrister that could be hugely damaging to the wind company and indeed the whole industry.
Thus it is better to see if a reasonable settlement can be reached and if it cannot, you will need to consider further options with your lawyers.
Prepared by: Peter R. Mitchell
3 May, 2017
Download original document: “Seeking Damages from Wind Energy Project Owners/Operators”